Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Giving is receiving: #thebotanicalseries giveaway

There was much talk at the beginning of the year by many on Instagram about choosing a word for the  year. I decided fairly early on that it would be give. It's so easy to get stuck in the trap of  making and creating and getting too attached to your work. So I decided I would make and give away. It's been a fun and refreshing experience.

So to thank you for tagging and to celebrate #thebotanicalseries tag reaching well over
20 000 tags,  I am giving away this original collage, titled 'Evince'.

To be in the draw to win this original, please write a comment on my Instagram post that shows this photograph. The giveaway closes Sunday midnight, New Zealand time and I will randomly select a winner on Monday (open worldwide).

Look forward to you joining in.
Happy Valentine x

Monday, 5 February 2018

'In the Moment Series' Winners

Firstly, a big thank you to those of you who have played along with the  photochallenge #ab_inthemomentseries with Ann Davis @annld60 and I on Instagram. It's such a buzz seeing photos deliberately taken for the theme.

Thanks also to Ann for taking on a promoter and judge role. Ann very kindly selected the winners and has written a few words about each of the winning entries. 

Ann writes- 

"Thank you Claudia for inviting me to judge the 'In the Moment Series' photochallenge on Instagram. These are my selected winners."

... and from me - Thank you Ann - your generosity to support the challenge and help promote it is greatly appreciated!

About the winners, Ann says:

"Kathy @prairiepeony took her  tulips that were gracefully falling apart and began to work her creativity. The  colors, composition and styling along with her beautiful words were a perfect 'In the Moment' photo."

"Jill  Meyer @jillemeyer2796 loves nature and is a master of improvising.  Cold and snowy, Jill gathers her favorite things, a cup of tea, books, a flower.  Her photo speaks to the moment and I wanted to jump right in and start reading one of her books."

"Nella @floral_passion had a calmness in her photo.  I could imagine Nella sitting in the house reading, drinking her tea and looking out the window, calmly waiting for the rain to stop."

"Mayumi Ichiryu @atelier_cocon_m works magic in her photography with her beautiful ribbons, antiques and of course her J'immy the Mouse'. This picture spoke to the moment with bringing back winter. If only for the moment."

Well done to all our winners and thank you again for taking up the challenge. There were so many beautiful entries and deciding who the winners were, was no easy task. 

To the winners - to redeem your prize, please email adiandbert@gmail.com or DM @adiandbert on Instagram with your postal address and I'll pop along an Artful Blogger magazine in the mail to you.  

'Till next time.
Claudia x

Thursday, 11 January 2018

A new year and a new challenge - 'In the moment' series

The photographer, Ann Davis (@annld60 on Instagram) and I have collaborated and will host a competition to win one of three Artful Blogger magazines (recent Nov/Dec/Jan 2018 issue of the magazine).

This magazine is produced by Stampington & Company that publishers a range  of other magazines that you may be familiar with, including Bella Grace, Artist’s CafĂ© and A Somerset Holiday etc. For more of their beautiful publications, to sign up to newsletters or read their blog, visit Stampington & Company

Ann, who is an accomplished photographer, loves flowers. Her speciality is taking photos of bunches of lush flowers in vintage vases using white backgrounds. Seeing her photos in my feed as I browse Instagram, is an uplifting moment in my day.

I asked Ann a few questions about her photography and what inspires her.

1.  Have you always been interested in creating and how did you become involved with photography?

We had cameras around our house from the time I was eight years old. I became the family photographer. In college, I took my first Photography class. When I met my husband 42 years ago, he liked taking pictures and it has been our hobby ever since.


2.  What photographers inspire you and why?

Claire Brocato (@claireb_photography Claire photography on Instagram)   is inspired by many of the things in life that are important to me -  nature, traveling and flowers. Her use of colour and composition is so inspirational.

Another favourite is Barb Brookbank (@keepingwiththetimes on Instagram). Barb’s photography is so inspirational every single day and her willingness to share information about gardening, styling, learning, food…. there are so many more … but I think I will stop here!

3.  What are you happiest doing creatively and why? 

I love taking pictures, whether it is on a road trip with my husband, walking the neighbourhood, snapping flowers, or still life in the studio. They all make me happy and contribute to my wellbeing.

4.  How do you store your images and what editing tools do you use? 

   I store my photos on both my computer and an external hard drive (always). I use Lightroom and Photoshop to edit my photos and have taken many Kim Klassen @kimklassen classes to help me with both Lightroom and my still life photography. 

5.  What approach do you follow when you find you are creatively stuck?

When I am creatively stuck I will do one of two things. Go for a walk or cruise around Instagram looking for inspiration.

6.  Having a word for the year has become really popular. What is your word to work / live by and that you will follow as your mantra? 

I am still using the same word, or should I say phrase, with a few variations and that I chose a few years ago. Embracing the moment. For me I have found that I seem to do better if I live in the moment. You will see me using Embracing Stillness - to help me slow down, Gratitude and I am going to use Kindness too this year.

Keeping Ann’s beautiful images in mind, this photographic challenge is to capture the little moments in life that are meaningful to you or that bring you stillness.

Inspiration can come from incidental everyday moments that make you smile or give you a feeling of wellbeing, or that represents your chosen word for the year. 

It could be as simple as the way a fabric falls in the light, or a steaming cup of tea on a chilly day or a simple curation of your foraged items. 

To participate and be eligible to win one of the Artful Blogging issues in the competition, you need to:
  1. Follow @annld60 and @adiandbert
  2. Post a new photo with the theme in mind
  3. In your opening caption include tags to @annld60 and @adiandbert and #ab_inthemomentseries

The competition closes on 31 January and is open worldwide.

Ann and I will feature entries in our Stories on Instagram and Ann will select the three winning entries after the competition closes.  

We look forward to seeing your lovely entries.

Enjoy the moment. Claudia x

Monday, 1 January 2018

In my January garden - Sweet peas and ultra violet

It’s such a feast for my tired eyes to walk from my garage through my laundry into my house and view sweet pea blooms through the laundry window. It's an instant lift after a stressful day. The scent of the sweet pea certainly is sweet as its name suggests. It is fresh and unmistakable.

Sweet peas were so popular in the early 1900s in England, that the Victorians started the English National Sweet Pea Society. And why wouldn’t you - the varieties and abundance of flowers at that time would be nothing like today and such elaborate botanical design and fragrance most certainly needed celebrating.

This climbing rambler has tendrils to help it wind its way through neighbouring plants. Providing a climbing frame is a way to help train the vine upwards and to be able to show off the blooms. New varieties now include a shrub-like sweet pea for which you do not need to provide supporting structures and en masse or in a border, look spectacular.

Sweet peas are like clematis in that they like their flowers to be in the sun and their roots cool and shaded, so covering their roots and surrounding soil with pea straw enables them to flourish. If you want information about cultivating sweet peas, The Old Farmer’s Almanac site has some useful tips and advice.

Now that I’m on my summer holiday, I’ve cut some of my little crop of sweet peas and they are sitting on my dresser in a vase for me to enjoy their distinctive fragrance every time I walk by.

These butterfly-like beauties are very similar in colour to the Pantone colour of the year is PANTONE18-3838 Ultra Violet. 

I have noticed over the years that I wear more mauve and pinks as I grow older, but I am not so sure I am ready to wear this heady purplish-violet colour yet. 

What about your wardrobe, do you like these bright striking violet colours? According to Gogol Bordello, it’s time to start wearing purple my friends! This You Tube clip made me smile and I hope it will make you smile too. 

And finally, since it's my first blog post of the year, I felt it called for a little poetry and I was rather taken by this poignant poem by E Clearfoster Sheppard (Nov.2014).


You mesmerize
With eyes like the Sun; But
blind me, just the same.

For now I'm left in darkness, clueless
In Oblivion. The world
is now Invisible. So

You are all I see;
And You are all I can. So
more I stare in

Pain & Wonder

How you hypnotize
My mind. Now I stare and
wonder how I'm happy
Being blind.


I hope to be more regular with my blog posts this year and intend to do a post every month, inspired by a plant in my garden. I hope you will follow along.

Have a wonderful year and I hope that only good things will come out of life's trials and tribulations -  that with every sorrow there will be joy, and with every hardship there will be release. And keep on being creative - Claudia x


Julia Jones and Barbara Deer. 1989. The National Trust calendar of gardening lore. Dorling Kindersley, London.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac. 2010?. Sweet peas - how to plant, grow, and care for sweet pea flowers. Retrieved 2 January 2018: https://www.almanac.com/plant/sweet-peas

Saturday, 23 December 2017

Gratitude journal

Creating an advent calendar using bits and pieces collected from my 100 days projects provided a catalyst to spark the imagination for my gratitude journal leading up to Christmas. I wasn't sure what I was going to say each day, but let the composition speak to me and guide my thinking about what I was grateful for. There is so much. This is what I shared on Instagram over the 25 days.

Grateful for the light after dark
and the rain that ends the drought 
for the abundance of choice 
and the spring that chases winter out

Grateful for the rhythm of daily life 
for the connections that bring us together
for the fruits of our labours 
and the fortitude we have for the hardships that we weather 

Grateful for the place that is home
and for the fragrance of the rose
for the wonder of language 
and for the music that life grows 

Grateful for the sound of birdsong at the break of day
and the respite to be found in a cup of tea
for the richness of life and the wisdom of age
for experience to know when to let it be 

Grateful for writers and their wild imaginations
and the beauty of tumbling waves that rush to the shore 
for the thoughtfulness of friends 
and for enough, not needing more 

Grateful for the forests and those who protect them 
for the routines of the everyday 
for the proponents of peace who soldier on 
and for the abundance of love that has come my way 

Especially grateful. For today. It's Christmas. 
It's my Birthday.

Hope you have a peaceful Christmas with the people that you love and that the new year brings you many good things - Claudia x

25 days of gratitude is also on Steller Stories

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Bumping into debris: The 2017 100 Days Project

The 2017 100 days project has been my most enjoyable yet. It’s the third one I have completed and was an enlightening trip down a creative path of collage.  This recent project helped me change the way I approached my making. It enabled a bolder creative expression, connecting the written word with the visual and moving my work into the realm of abstract. My drawing style became less deliberate and loose. It was totally liberating.

Experimentation with materials, included dragging an old credit card through smears of inks and acrylics, creating  merged coloured textures and when dry, tearing it up into strips. Old, discarded library index cards provided backgrounds. Words on index cards that caught my attention, provided inspiration. So did current events that at times, triggered an idea for a title or design with the result that behind every collage, lies a story. Nothing was out of bounds and I even repurposed some of my previous 100 days project drawings.

Embracing imprecise lines, words and colour, was a new direction for me. There was no plan, only a response to what lay around and what my eyes fell upon. Akin to a flowing stream, I drifted in the current and let it sweep me along. As I  bumped into debris, another possibility, another combination, emerged. I came to know what being in the moment is. I know that now. I never want to give it up.
The best thing about the 100 days project was the anticipation of creating and the process of making. My favourite moment was when I blended the pieces of the collage and the composition coalesced. There were times that is it didn’t and a preconceived idea wouldn’t gel. It was best to leave it to reveal itself.
The worst thing about the 100 days project was fitting it into the hectic-ness of life and at times, having no time or energy to get things done. But such is life and I didn’t beat myself up about it.

Posting to Instagram daily was such a buzz and I am so grateful for all the likes and kind words of encouragement. It really helped me keep going. So my heart is full of appreciation. Thank you.

I would love to hear from you about any ideas for me to consider next time round. Claudia x

Thursday, 1 December 2016

What I learnt from doing the 100 days project

My 100 day project theme was 'The Botanical Series'. By signing up I committed to draw a plant a day from my garden and surrounding neighbourhood for 100 consecutive days. 

I knew it wasn't going to be easy, not only because making the time to draw daily isn't always practical and I didn't think I had access to so many plants. The later start in August. this round, meant we were heading into spring. Just when I thought what was I going to draw, the next day another plant would start flowering and there I'd have a botanical muse. I did draw some foliage-only plants, a few bought flowers and a pomegranate fruit!

So here's what I learned.

Practice does help you improve - drawing the plant form became easier and I became braver and faster at drawing

Plants are wonderfully inspiring for providing variety and subject matter

Understanding the anatomy of a plant helps to get a sense of the spatial form and how the parts are connected

Being part of a signed up project gave me permission to draw every day and my family and friends supported it 

Focusing on one thing everyday was a mindful activity that helped me forget my daily worries and stresses and wrapped me in a cloak of calm and stillness

Posting my photos to Instagram made me accountable and gave me motivation to meet my commitment

Completing all 100 days of the project gave me a great sense of achievement. Now if only I could do the same with giving up sugar!

The Instagram community was ever encouraging and supportive and for which I am grateful. As a token of thanks, I created a calendar as a giveaway that @coffeepaperyarn won in the lucky draw (please visit her feed!). 

If interested, all my pics are tagged to the hashtag #ab_100days on Instagram.

With the countdown to Christmas, its easy to think of the next creative project. What's yours?
- Claudia x