Tuesday, 19 May 2015

#thebotanicalseries winner

Congratulations to @ruby_and_ivy for being judged the best entry to #thebotanicalseries photo challenge on Instagram this month. Well done!

Aimee, my guest judge from My Beloved Style website, loved it and says this about your entry.

"The winner is @ruby_and_ivy. I loved the pics entered. The bright colours appealed to me of course as I just adore bright colours and the dahlias in this image are just so lovely! Who doesn't love a flatlay of flowers on a special plate with a beautiful floral backdrop!"

@ruby_and_ivy wins this lovely print provided and photographed by Aimee. This gorgeous print is the work of the talented Lee Sinclair of Cloud Nine Creative. Lee is an artist who Aimee has supported for many years and whose botanical artwork is beautiful and a perfect prize for this month's theme. 

There were so many beautiful entries, but these photographs  too deserve a special mention.

@bymeeni Aimee says "I am now in love with lilacs, and that wreath WOW!"

"@anniefrank50 I just loved your pics with the lovely descriptions and notes on each flower, a real botanical series!"
"@petiteharvest I just loved this shot, the dried hydrangea is so lovely and looks almost identical to the one I have at home"
"@fourcornerdesign your entries were all perfect and I love the simplicity of buttercups!"

"@atelier_cocon_m I loved all of your images and this one with the breadstand is just so pretty and unique!"

"It has been an absolute pleasure to work with Claudia this last week or so, thanks so much Claudia for including me, I LOVE your work and it has also been an real delight to see so many beautiful photos of flowers and leaves and just botanical goodness in general. Thanks so much to everyone who took part and I hope everyone continues to post pics to #thebotanicalseries - the collection so far is stunning" @missaimeefleur

Likewise Aimee! Thanks for organising and mailing the prize and judging the winning entry (which must have been tough!).

The response to this month's challenge has been wonderful and it's been so lovely to see everyone's beautiful takes on the theme. Thanks to all who participated. I look forward to seeing next month's entries when there'll be a new challenge.

Claudia x

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Maker Space: Five Questions

Reading artist Shanni Nottingham's blog post on her Rare PearStudio's blog recently reminded me about the surprising, unplanned outputs that sometimes emerge when making art.  I know exactly what Shani means about the creativity that can flow while doing projects. As Shani says " ... while that piece is drying, I will do a quick collage or sketch or another little watercolour...". 

This is what excites me about the creative process and what fascinates me. It is almost like you have to take the thinking out of the process and just make. Like warming up before a dance. Its about being open and just letting it flow. Sometimes we are our own worst enemies putting up barriers that inhibit us. 

So I asked Shani, who is a very productive artist and has a flair for colour, Five Questions about where her creativity stems from and how she harnesses and sustains it.  

1. Tell us about your art background and how you've developed  your current style? Also what mediums do you use and which do you prefer and why?

SN: HELLO! What an interesting question!
Well. I have always been arty and creative. This flowed from being a kid, to high school, and then onto doing a Bachelor of Arts, Visual Arts. I majored in Photography, and minored in plant and wildlife illustration. The truth is though, I was very young when I started uni, only 17, and at the time did not realise how precious this chance to study was. I had a great time, and met my now husband, and my closest group of friends there, but I did not really work on finding “my style”.

We ended up travelling and living overseas for several years, then when we returned to Australia moved to the country. I think as a result of being on the move, having sketchbooks, being tight with money, I did not do BIG works, but stayed quite small and intimate. I began breeding, and family life and another degree happened. So my art time was limited again. Large scale work was out of the question! I would retreat to the easy to set up, not too messy, world of watercolour and gouache, like I had used on our travels and at uni.

I struggled with the idea of this being ‘art’ because of my academic background, with a weight of theory and conceptual ideas. I really did not take what I was doing seriously, and was quite embarrassed actually!

Years later, I had begun teaching, finished having kids, and life was pretty busy. I had secured myself a little desk and space of my own, to paint in within a study here at home. It was not really until my dad, when they were out visiting us once, saw me out there painting, and said, “You know, it is such a shame you cannot just be an illustrator”… that something in me clicked over. Suddenly I REALISED THAT THAT WAS REALLY HOW I FELT. I was an illustrator, not just an artist. It freed me up to embrace doing little, lovely pictures. Goodbye conceptual and deep and brooding art!

This was really before the internet and social media were dynamic forces, and I had yet to discover Frankie magazine, and did not realise that illustration was actually quite cool again too. I just kept painting…my own little things. Quite in isolation. I think this was perhaps the time I incubated and worked on my own thing.

Fast forward to now… and I think my style has evolved, and I am always trying new things. I am actually quite versatile in what I can do…but I keep coming back to colour. I am inspired by Instagram, Pinterest, things I find on walks, home, magazines,…but I tend to the simple, whimsical, things I see. I have many scrapbooks with images I love, colour combos, things to inspire. I have my studio walls covered in images. I am a visual image hoarder! I actually still love dark and a bit quirky, and have a hankering for doing HUGE BIG work…but I have not found a way of pulling that off for myself yet!

I am currently using mostly watercolour, ink, gouache, collage and photography remains a constant. And travelling. Seeing new things. This is always key! It keeps the world fresh.


2. What are the requirements for you to be in full creative flight? What little tips or tricks can you share that help you get your creative sap flowing?

SN: Oh… I like my house to be quiet from the demands of family. As they are older now, and have devices(!), this happens more often. But I work mostly when they are at school, or late at night. Late at night I love! I actually usually have a DVD playing, or TV, or music… I like background noise. I do not like thinking that I have to go somewhere, like an appointment etc. I prefer to work on days when I know my schedule is clear...it is almost like a blockage if I know that at some point I will have to stop. I get cranky when I have to stop and I am enjoying the process! I resent the intrusion into my nice little world.

I am a very messy creative, really messy and I like to have all my things around me. When I am in the flow, I just grab things, then chuck them to the side… I live in a continual cycle of make, create, make mess. Clean up, throw away, clear space. then make again…keep repeating! It drives me nuts, but I am just made that way. Keeping tidy is a conscious thing...I have to make myself do it, it does not come naturally. I do enjoy the cleaning up though..it is like making a fresh start…which is why as soon as it is clean... I start all over again!

For me I find that being observant, jotting down ideas as I get them…gets me fizzy enough to get started. And NOT being afraid of the blank paper, and realising that not everything I do will be good. That crappy stuff will happen. I read somewhere that to UNSTUCK yourself from doing crappy work..you just have to work through it,..all the time..keep creating. So..I do that. I am very rarely happy with what I paint though!

3. Making art for a living must be really difficult especially when you are working to commissions. How do you stay motivated and keep on track to meet deadlines?

SN: OH. Tricky one! Well, I am also a teacher, so I still do that a bit. It was supposed to be my ‘career’, but I just am not as passionate about teaching as I am about art, and even though I enjoy it, and am often called on as an art specialist, it has only been in the last few years I have realised that it is art and creating that feeds my soul the way it needs to be for me to be  truly happy. It has been a quiet, steadily growing and then no going past it journey! So teaching has taken a back seat… but the money...gives some security, but more than that, it is the connection to my community,  and this is important. It would be easy to just stay at home and paint in isolation.

So… money. Well yes, it can be chasing your tail. It is the creative side I am comfortable in, the marketing and business side is just part of the show that I wish I could hand over to someone else and go ”deal with it”! But learning is all about stepping out of that comfort zone… so I have been. I have developed a great set of supporters, ’fans’ followers, mentors, connections.. a whole myriad of people who keep me motivated and nurture my dreams. I ask lots of questions. I have found that especially with commissions, it is the unexpected connections and  opportunities that yield work. You just have to keep plugging away and putting your stuff out there. I am guilty of not always following up leads..I should do more on this front! I have done a few marketing and business courses, these have helped. I try to only put out consistently good quality images, words and work and stay true to my  what my heart says is okay. I am very authentic!

I should also add…that I would not be able to do what I am doing without one person. I am VERY lucky that my best friend, my husband, is incredibly supportive and believes in me totally. So...he has supported me emotionally, and financially when I set up rare pear studio. He is a keeper!

And deadlines? Deadlines can be tricky… life is very busy... but I always, always get there! This is my business, and I take it seriously. I put commission work above other priorities ... it is just triage. Like you quoted before.. I will often have my own things waiting to go on the sidelines for before, during or after working on a commission, while waiting for them to dry etc. But the commission is the main thing!

4. What's the best piece of creative (or other !) advice you have been given?

SN: Just keep going. Do not stop believing. Be a bit brave. Take little steps if you need to, and do not beat yourself up if at times you need to recharge and regroup. Have patience. It is a marathon not a sprint. Get a good support group. Stay focussed on goals. Write lists..achievable ones! If feeling a bit flat..look at that list again of what you want to do…and write down your successes to remind yourself of your progress. Connect with other creatives.

5. Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?

SN: Well.. I hope by then, I will still be doing what I am doing…but would love to be in homewares, paper goods, see my work in publications, be doing lots of commissions. Doing those big works i have a yen to do. Having more exhibitions. Still happily married, my kids growing up and flourishing, and  working and collaborating with people admire….sigh .I have lots of hopes and dreams…but some of these I keep in myself, in my head..almost too scared and embarrassed to share…and also because they morph as time goes on…

I hope Shani's answers will inspire and give you some ideas when your creativity hits a wall. 

To see more of Shani's work, visit her website Rare Pear Studio, find her on Google +, on Instagram or dip into her Collage Club on Facebook 

Photos courtesy of Shani Nottingham

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

May's collab & photo challenge

After I completed the 100daysproject last year I organised a giveaway to thank the IG community of followers for their encouraging support. Each month since then, the giveaways have continued and somehow I have managed to collaborate through Instagram with the loveliest and most wonderfully creative people to come up with a theme and a lovely prize.

For this month's collab, I am teaming up with Aimee Fleur, who runs the lifestyle blog My Beloved Style. Aimee is based in Auckland, New Zealand which I am excited about because this is also my neck of the woods. Her blog offers reflections about life with a young family. I have no idea how Aimee manages corporate fulltime work, two small children and still manages to blog regularly and post to Instagram!

I asked Aimee what set her off on the blogging path and whether she gets any work from it.

AF:  Peer pressure! So many friends kept telling me to. I have always been one to share any great finds or ideas with my friends and I love taking photos of just about anything.So starting a blog seemed like the natural progression, and I am so glad I have, as it means I can tell everyone (who wants to know) about my latest finds, ideas and is a place where I can share my musings on a variety of topics.

And yes, I do get some work from my blog, I only work with brands and products I believe in and actually use in my everyday life and love that I can get the chance to share these with my followers and work with brands and products that I love.

I love Aimee's approach to style depicted in her lovely Instagram posts and on her website.  Style should come from the heart and not from trying to be trendy or follow fashion. (A good thing to remember and save you from spending unnecessarily when you next set your sights on that trendy, expensive (and probably unnecessary) item your heart desires!)

Aimee and I both love flowers and gardening, so it's no surprise that the theme we have chosen for this month's challenge is a botanical one #thebotanicalseries. We are so looking forward to seeing all the beautiful floral posts in the tag's feed.

We do hope you will join in! And you could be in to win this lovely prize offered by Aimee, which is a gorgeous print donated by the talented Lee Sinclair of Cloud Nine Creative. Lee is an artist who Aimee has supported for many years and whose botanical artwork is just beautiful. 

(Photo courtesy of Aimee Fleur)

Aimee will also judge the winning entry.

So get clicking (and remember that you need to have an open IG account to take part). On Instagram to enter:

1. Follow @missaimeefleur & @adiandbert
2. Tag a friend & invite to join
3. Post a NEW pic featuring a botanical theme to #thebotanicalseries
Comp is open worldwide and closes on  Sunday 17 May. Judging will be by the creative Aimee