Did I tell you I was on Create & Craft?

Yes, Ella doing the live TV stuff again – I thought I’d left that behind from my Restaurant Mag days. Anyway in April I did an hour’s live show with the very lovely Ben Moseby as brand ambassador for POSCA pens. It was great fun and everyone at Create and Craft made me feel really relaxed and welcome. Here’s some of Ben’s pics from behind the scenes…

Ella Johnston Ben Moseby Create and Craft
Me and Ben – pals
Customised leather jacket with POSCA by Ella Johnston
A little leather jacket I pimped with POSCA
Items decorated with POSCA by Ella Johnston
All decorated by me with POSCA pens

And here’s a closer look at some of the stuff I made for the show (pics by me this time).

Funky wellies decorated with POSCA pens by Ella Johnston
Funky wellies decorated with POSCA pens
Pimped POSCA display by Ella Johnston
Pimped POSCA display
Purse and water bottle pimped with Posca by Ella Johnston
Purse and water bottle pimped with Posca
Poly shapes marbled with metallic POSCA by Ella Johnston
Poly shapes marbled with metallic POSCA

HOME sign decorated with POSCA by Ella Johnston
HOME sign decorated with POSCA

Flamingo votives decorated with POSCA  by Ella Johnston
Flamingo votives decorated with POSCA

Joyous, joyous house plants!

Welcome to my latest obsession; joyous, joyous house plants! I love them. They provide a great eco-friendly home update (they’ve brightened up our battered old piano and bright white sideboard), they look amazing and will lift your soul – I promise. 

They have also brought out my nurturing side – I’m not ashamed to admit that I talk to our growing green housemates and it’s very therapeutic. I’ve bought a leaf mister – an object not on my radar five years ago – and I got a dedicated house plant watering can for my birthday this year.
I love house plants. Photo (c): Ella JohnstonSo what do I like about house plants? As you know I’ve been banging on about the benefits of greenery and nature for years.  I love the organic, wild(ish) element that they give to my home. It swells my heart to watch our plants grow, especially as they are all quite easy to maintain and look after – although I admit I’ve had some neglect/kill with kindness-related fatalities.

Houseplants (c) Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.ukI’m constantly adding to my home jungle. At the moment, I’ve got Monstera deliciosa, Castanospermum Australe (Jack’s Beanstalk), Dracaena marginata (Madagascar Dragon Tree), Chamaedorea (mountain palm), Sword Fern, Sanseveria (Mother-in-law’s tongue), Fittonias, Aloe Vera and some succulents.
I love house plants. Photo (c): Ella Johnston I’ve been very successful with the monsteras (touch wood), had mixed results with the fittonias (I think I transplanted them too early), I have an on-going struggle with succulents but have managed to keep it together with the aloes (so low maintenance it’s unreal).

What are my top house plant tips?  Hmm not sure really,  I’m certainly no expert. I’ve got most of the plants in rooms at the back of the house where they will get the most light. I don’t have a strict timetable when it comes to watering – I’ve had so many over-watering incidents in the past that now I tend to go by feel (using my fingers to assess the dryness/dampness of the soil, checking the leaves and stems). Obviously I’ve found myself giving the monstera, dragon tree and mountain palm more of a drink in the summer months but I don’t have any hard and fast rules.

Have you got bitten by the house plant bug? Can you recommend anywhere to get some good large(ish) pots? Give me a shout and let me know.

Hello, it’s been a while

Ella Johnston still life (c) ellasplace.co.ukMy first post of 2018, sorry it’s taken me so long. Although I’ve been quiet on the blog front I’ve been busy everywhere else; undertaking illustration commissions, preparing for up-coming exhibitions, making craft how-to videos, growing my print and stationery business, continuing my work with Uni-ball and Dannells and working on an exciting new publication for Dunlin Press. I’ve been working like a beast.

Ella Johnston Illustrator photo: Martin Bewick
Hello!

The break has actually been a good thing as it’s given me some space to think about Ella’s Place. From the very start I wanted this to provide a genuine insights into a creative life; my work in progress, they way I work, what inspires me, what I do, my processes, plus my passions and penchants. A step away from the blog has made me think about the best ways I can get back to that original concept.

Ella Johnston Illustration Workspace (c) Ella Johnston
My drawing board!

So many blogs are product focused and I do want to show you stuff that I like and things that make me go ‘ooh’. But I don’t want to simply do product placements – I want to inspire you, make you smile, let you know what I am up to and hopefully give you some practical tips, advice and insights into illustration, craft, up-cycling, veggie food, mindfulness and living an all-round fun, balanced, creative, happy life. I’m working on it. Pimped up POSCA pots (c) Ella Johnston

Christmas Kids Craft: Super Easy Baubles

Looking for something to do with the kids during the festive break? How about some Christmas craft and get them to whip up some decorations for next year with this super easy set of bauble designs?

I guarantee you, these designs are really easy to recreate, I know this because I’ve road-tested them with the most discerning and special of audiences.

Last week, for the second year in a row, I had the privilege in taking part in the Great Ormond Street Children’s Christmas Party along with my friends at Uni-ball.

My brief was to give the children (patients and their siblings) plus their parents or carers (and any passing celebrities) a project they could do with Posca marker pens that they can take away as a keepsake of the event.We needed something cheap, relatively quick and accessible to all. I had to use my skills to think of a project that could be taken away without fear of breakage (this is a very special party for the families and, although we needed it to be affordable as we were doing two parties a day and entertaining a lot of children, we wanted to give them something that could be easily taken home and treasured).

I came up with a wooden bauble craft project idea as Poscas work really well on wood. Not only could the bauble be slipped into a bag without creating too much bulk or wrapping up but I also thought about it becoming a family treasure, you know part of that much loved box of Christmas decorations that come out every year.

This was not the time to show-off my drawing abilities. I didn’t want anyone to walk away from my table feeling they couldn’t make something lovely. While everyone was free to scribble, daub and scrawl and generally do their own thing on the shapes if they wished, I also created some easy to copy festive designs (you know the kind of thing, Christmas puddings, reindeers, glam penguins, fat robins, snowmen, Santa and the odd fox). Look closely and you’ll see all of these bauble motifs are just made up of very simple shapes, lines, dots and colours, and all of them can be completed in three, sometimes four, very easy stages (great for impatient little and big ones).

What’s great is that my plan worked, it was a joy to see tiny hands create these designs with ease (they were sometimes better than my originals) and a delight to see joyous faces (young and ‘older’) so clearly pleased with their illustrative accomplishment.

If you fancy trying these out then you can get packs of the wooden baubles at Amazon and a bumper set of Posca pens at Cult pens.

Ella’s Edit: Sea-inspired buys

Seahorse ornaments www.tch.net/
Seahorse ornaments, The Contemporary Home

Have you noticed how dark it’s got recently? I quite like autumn but this has come as s shock even to me so I’m lighting in my mood with these sea-side themed buys from The Contemporary Home.

 Large Ceramic Shells www.tch.net/
Large Ceramic ShellsThe Contemporary Home

These delightful oversized ceramic sea shells and seahorses have not only kept a little bit of summer in my heart but they’ve also saved my bathroom look during its ‘transitional phase’. We’ve getting it decorated in the new year and I wanted something to brighten it up in the short term.

I’ve teamed them with some real items scavenged from the beaches of Great Britain to give the smallest room in the house a bit of life.  Who knows where they’ll live when my bathroom is complete – watch this space!

Seahorse ornaments www.tch.net/
Seahorse ornamentsThe Contemporary Home

October drawing of the month: Flying Dunlin

Flying dunlin watercolour and fine line drawing (c) Ella Johnston
My October drawing of the month is of a flying dunlin.

As the co-founder of Dunlin Press this bird is particularly important to me and Dr B. We are very fond of these birds, very soon they’ll be scuttling around in the mud on Wivenhoe quay.

Work in progress: Flying dunlin watercolour and fine line drawing (c) Ella Johnston

I’ve been drawing dunlins for a little while now, and even have a print of another dunlin drawing available on Folksy, but I’ve never attempted to draw a flying dunlin before. They are quite magical when they fly. I normally spot these wading birds in groups scurrying around on the mud as the tide is coming in during twilight so it’s quite hard to see them at first. You can just about detect them by a little flash of white on their bellies. It’s only when they fly do you see them fully as the white plumage underneath their wings catches and twinkles in the moonlight, it’s lovely.

dunlin print by Ella Johnston

I created this illustration with washes of watercolour and picked out the details with a uni-pin fine line pen, you can see me adding some detail in the video below…

Pick of the Pins: Lucy Tiffney Mural

Pick of the pins Ella Johnston
I’ve been itching to share this pick of my pins this week. Lucy Tiffney’s murals are a constant inspiration but this particular illustration created for Care UK, Oxford really impressed.

I think this example exemplifies Lucy’s illustrative style; simple, structural and striking. It communicates the essence flowing energy and lightness of the plant’s leaves contrasted with the weight of the pot. Her colour choice is always spot-on and her simple composition is one to be admired and taken note of. She has inspired me to explore some large scale work of my own.

See more of Lucy Tiffney’s work on the following channels…

Instagram: @lucytiffney

Website: lucytiffney.com

Monthly Moodboard: October, Still Life

October Moodboard Still life

This month’s moodboard is dedicated to the still life.

A couple of weeks ago I went to see the Matisse in The Studio exhibition at the Royal Academy. Ever since then I’ve been obsessed with still life painting and photography.

The exhibition explored the objects in Matisse’s home and how they manifested themselves in his work. Strangely I’ve never really considered doing still lives myself but the exhibition really got me thinking how the pieces we have in our homes hold such a personal place in our hearts.

I genuinely don’t feel particularly materialistic but I admit that I have very deep attachments to certain vases, books and other objet so maybe recording them in my illustrative work would be an interesting process.

It got me thinking about the concept of taste and what objects and arrangements I’d select to depict and the reasons why I’d do this. Also, in the world of Instagram I see so many people doing little tableaux on the channel as a way of representing their brand maybe the still life is the modern day portrait?

Also I’ve included another great painting I’ve seen recently in the moodboard; Gluck’s Lilac and Gelder rose still life. I saw this at the Tate’s Quiet British Art show and I was blown away by its mastery and tenderness. On watching a documentary about the artist, it’s been said that Gluck’s work focused around whoever Gluck was having a relationship with at the time. This was painted around the period where Gluck was having an affair with Constance Spry so there you. Again, it illustrates what a powerful medium for social and personal commentary the still life can be. Watch this space for some watercolour and fine line still lives from me in the future.

#FridayFun: Posca Make Today Christmas Pack!

Posca Make Today Christmas pack
Posca Make Today Christmas pack, picture: Cliqq Photography

I have to share this bit of #Fridayfun with you as I’m really so excited. I’m delighted to show off The Posca Make Today Christmas Pack, a product I developed with the marvellous marketing and design team at the Mitsubishi Pencil Company.

Posca Make Today Christmas pack
Posca Make Today Christmas pack, picture: Cliqq Photography

This pack is filled with goodies that will be great for Christmas crafting. Open the box and you’ll find eight specially selected  POSCA pens in different sizes and classic festive colours. The craft kit also includes 10 card blanks plus five sheets of easy draw templates featuring 50+ of my seasonal illustrations to trace and transfer. You’ll also find  24-page booklet that I wrote. It talks you through 16 unique greeting designs to make today, plus five bonus festive makes to create with your pens.

Here’s little peek at some of the designs featured…

Posca Make Today Christmas pack, picture: Cliqq Photography
Posca Make Today Christmas pack, picture: Cliqq Photography
Posca Make it Today Christmas Pack
Posca Make Today Christmas pack, picture: Cliqq Photography
Posca Make Today Christmas Pack
Posca Make Today Christmas pack, picture: Cliqq Photography

You can make your own Christmas cards using the pack but you don’t have to stop there. I’ve also developed 13 extra projects that you can create with the pens – you can see eight of these on the Make Today Website along with loads of extra drawing tips and tricks.

We’ve also made some really simple how-to videos to follow, have a look at this one below…

I’m incredibly proud of our achievement – the pack is a complete solution in a box for the Christmas crafter. I’m so pleased to see my illustrations used commercially and in a format that people can access and use.

You can buy the pack at the Easichalk website...

Posca Make Today Christmas pack
Posca Make Today Christmas pack, picture: Cliqq Photography

Great idea! Spinster and Spool

Spinster and Spool.Isn’t it wonderful when people you know do fab things? I love celebrating the creativity of people I know – it’s always fantastic to see great ideas friends and colleagues have. So today I bring you the fabulous Spinster and Spool…

A little while ago my lovely, super talented ex-colleague Stephanie Durrant set up Spinster and Spool, a creative business hand-embroidering funky little messages on hoops. With Christmas coming up you may want to have a gander as they make brilliant gifts for any sassy women in your life

 Here’s some words from the lady herself…

“I decided to start my embroidery hoop art business Spinster and Spool after making a few hoops for my little flat. I live alone and wanted some positive female quotes that would make me smile and give me a little boost. There are a few sassy song lyrics that have picked me up after a bad run of dates – Taylor Swift, Iggy Azalea and Beyonce are constantly blearing through my headphones! I liked the idea of juxtaposing their feminist attitude with such a traditional craft as embroidery, using pretty, often kitsch, fabrics.

“I find hand sewing so therapeutic and a great focus, so following some great feedback on my own hoops, friends and family encouraged me to start selling my designs. The name didn’t take me too long to come up with and is a little tongue-in-cheek. I also have a blog, Lipstick and Liberty, documenting all the pretty things I’ve made for my flat.

“I first design the layout on InDesign, then print off the typography and trace it onto the fabric. I stitch the outlines in whatever embroidery stitches I think will stand out best and work with the fonts I’ve chosen. Stitching is the fun bit as I can just put my feet up with the cat on my lap of an evening, or I’ve even been known to stitch on the train if I have an urgent commission. I like it when people come to me with their own ideas, too – perhaps a song that’s inspired them or a quote that’s got them through a tough time. I think it’s special that I can make that into something beautiful for them to have in their home, especially if it makes them feel a little more positive. I believe women should pick each other up and support each other, because, as Lily Allen says, ‘It’s hard out here for a bitch!’”

To see more Spinster and Spool designs visit…

Instagram @spinsterandspool

Spinster and Spool Etsy Shop

Lipstick and Liberty Blog