Plant of the week 30 May 16: Hibiscus

Hibiscus Black and White drawing by Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk

As tropical themes proliferate the summer collections this year I thought I’d concentrate on hibiscus flowers for my plant of the fortnight.

Hibiscus Black and White drawing by Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk

According to legend, the hibiscus flower is traditionally worn by Tahitian and Hawaiian girls and is symbolic of relationship status. Apparently if the flower is worn behind the left ear, the woman is married or in a relationship. If the flower is worn on the right, she is single or openly available for love.

Hibiscus Black and White drawing by Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk

These flowers look so robust and full of allure with their strong trumpet shape and long stigma. That makes them such fun to draw. Check out my watercolour and ink illustrations on Friday.

Finished Bee-eater Bird of the Fortnight

Bee Eater Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk

I told you I’d go for colour and perhaps on reflection I could have been more subtle in my finished illustration. Ah well next time (I intend to draw these birds a LOT).

Bee-eaters do actually eat bees. They remove the stinging part by repeatedly hitting and rubbing the insect on a hard surface, the subsequent pressure to the insect extracts most of the venom.

These birds are mainly native to Africa and Asia but you can see some in southern Europe, Australia, and New Guinea. And I spotted on Twitter the other day that someone had seen and taken pictures of a pair of European bee-eaters in Norfolk (I would LOVE to see them for myself).

The birds form colonies by nesting in burrows tunnelled into the side of sandy banks, such as those that have collapsed on the edges of rivers. Most of the species in the family are monogamous and both parents care for the young, sometimes with the assistance of other birds in the colony, isn’t that lovely? The more I learn about these birds the more I like them.

DIY: Liberty Print Clocks

Liberty print clocks ellasplace.co.uk As an obsessive of iconic, classic design and illustration I regard a Liberty print with admiration and awe. But as I don’t live in a particularly girlie gaff, I’m sometimes at a loss as to where to put them in my home.  In fact it would be fair to say that Ella’s place is quite gender neutral so, while I like a floral print (I mean, I draw enough flowers and like to display a bloom in practically every room), I restrict more ornate, flowery designs to accents rather than a full on floral fest, which is why I made these handmade clocks.

Liberty print clocks ellasplace.co.uk

Creating a bespoke time piece is super simple. As clock fittings are so easy to come across these days (seriously, google it and you’ll be faced with a wealth of cost-effective options) you can make clocks in any shape or size with the minimum of effort all you need is the fitting and a suitable surface to attach it to.

Liberty print clocks ellasplace.co.uk I took a cheat’s choice and used a needcraft clock kit for ease, as everything  was pre-cut and measured. All I needed to do was add fabric – a total timesaver. But you can always cover an area of mdf or stiff card with material or paper with a hole made for the clock piece. It really is that simple – easy crafting if there ever was.

Liberty print clocks ellasplace.co.uk I got the Liberty fabric from Sewbox who has an extensive collection of designs by the brand – Sue from Sewbox is lovely too, I worked with her a lot on Homemaker and she was super helpful.
Liberty print clocks. ellasplace.co.ukI selected Liberty Betsy Ann in Rossmore Cord for a lighter, classically floral time-piece and Liberty Cranston in Colourway A from its Lifestyle Stile Collection for a deco-style feel (it looks ever so nice with Henry and Matilda my retro cat ceramics). I’ve got the latter hanging in my hallway and the former is looking rather splendid on the white sideboard in the dining room.

Liberty print clocks ellasplace.co.uk

Bird of the Fortnight 23 May 2016: Bee-eater

Bee Eater illustration for Five Mile Float
I know I normally lead with black and white sketches for my first post for my bird of the fortnight and there are some below. I just could resist sharing with you a previous Bee-eater illustration I did as part of an art work commission for a US indie band called Five Mile Float.

Bee-Eater sketch (c) Ella Johnston

It was when I took on the commission that I developed an interest in Bee-eaters. The family have such a variety of plumage and I that Zoro type mask across their eyes is the coolest.
Bee-Eater sketch (c) Ella Johnston

The Five Mile Float brief asked me to be subtle in my use of colour so I stuck to very light washes of peach and mint. No such subtlety is required this time so I’m going to go to town on my final watercolour and ink version.
Bee-Eater sketch (c) Ella Johnston

Finished plant of the fortnight: Purple Sweetpea

Plant of the fortnight, watercolour purple sweet pea illustration (c) Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk

As I mentioned in my last post I was looking forward to being a bit free and easy with my watercolour for this finished sweetpea illustration. And I was;  I applied lots of layers of watery purples, blues and pinks for this colour version so, much so I had to finish it in two sessions as there was no way the black pigment ink would sit on it until the piece was completely dry.

As we’re well into summer I think I’m going to continue with larey looking, brightly coloured blooms for my up-coming plant of the fortnights, so no matter what the actual weather we’ve got something to either amplify the heat or to warm us up.

Stash-busting How-to: Make Paper Banners

Banner display ellasplace.co.uk I don’t know about you but I’ve got a big stash of plain and patterned paper from previous projects and from when I’ve taken advantage of bulk offers in art shops. It seems like a waste to have them languishing in drawers and boxes so last week I took action and turned some of them into stash-busting banners to decorate our study with a simple wall display.
Banner display ellasplace.co.uk I had some lovely light blue card that I’d been waiting for something to do with and some left-over summer swallow and butterfly designs that I had created to decorate a friends wedding. I thought the colours all worked really well together and I had some Posca pens in a lovely slate grey that would lift the blue card and unify the whole scheme once I’d added some simple text and design.
Banner display ellasplace.co.uk Making these banners is a synch. It just requires a ruler, a length of doweling, a craft knife, twine, double-sided-tape and the paper(s) of your choice. I measured my doweling at various lengths and cut to size (I could easily snip mine with a craft knife but you may need something more ‘robust’).
Banner display ellasplace.co.uk I then trimmed my papers into rectangles making sure I had about a 2cm allowance to wrap them over the doweling and leaving room at the bottom for cutting the bottom into a ‘v’ or inverted ‘v’ or at an angle while not compromising the main design.
Banner display ellasplace.co.ukOnce the blue card was cut, I could draw a bespoke illustration on it. I thought I’d keep it some with a hand-scripted ‘hello’ and some simple laurel leaf and flower motifs. Let me know if you’d like me to talk through hand scripting and drawing these leaves and flowers – they’re easy to master and you don’t have to be a great draftsman/woman, I promise .
Banner display ellasplace.co.uk With everything cut to size I applied lengths of double-sided-tape to the doweling and, in the case three out of the four banners, I attached the ends of my twine before rolling the edges of the rectangles over the doweling to fix.

I’m pleased that I was able to give my old stash a new lease of life and I’m delighted to be able to add another bit of quirky handmade styles to a little corner of our study.

11 Indigo Inspired Buys

11 Indigo Inspired Buys
While I often plump for hot shades and vibrant hues come summer, sometimes I yearn for clean lines, cooling colours and simplicity.

A beautiful indigo inspired palette fits the bill perfectly. This colour scheme can be used to create a Tuscan, Moroccan  or even Japanese art style vibe. It’s a look that incorporates artisan craft, intricate illustration plus both geometric and ornate pattern so you indulge in it whatever your tastes. I’ve used the look in my dining room with shibori coasters and my bedroom using my blue and white thistle fabric to make bedside lanterns. The deep blues, crisp whites and dark accents give everything a fresh, light feel that you can carry on into very early autumn.

The high street agrees with me – in fact it’s all about the indigo for SS16 so, here’s my top 11 blue for you buys…

Play the blues interior picks ellasplace.couk
Moroccan Blue Dinnerware from Sainsbury’s
Play the blues interior picks ellasplace.couk
Octopus Indigo Linen Cushion from Cream Cornwall
Play the blues interior picks ellasplace.couk
Tom Dixon Bowl at Amara
Play the blues interior picks ellasplace.couk
Welsh Knot Throw from Eclect Design
Play the blues interior picks ellasplace.couk
Geometric Pillar Candles from Mia Fleur
Play the blues interior picks ellasplace.couk
Sinilintu Rug and Cushions from Vallila Interior
Play the blues interior picks ellasplace.couk
Vase from  Debenhams
Play the blues interior picks ellasplace.couk
Lene Bjerre Camelia Tea Jar From Houseology
Play the blues interior picks ellasplace.couk
Rug from Very
Play the blues interior picks ellasplace.couk
Hand Painted Moroccan Cups from St Barts

Plant of the fortnight 16/05/16 Sweetpea

Sweetpea black and white sketch. Ella Johnston. Plant of the Fortnight ellasplace.co.uk
Sweetpeas are the quintessential summer flower for the UK. Their variety of colours and their delicate paper-like petals are a seasonal favourite in people’s gardens.
Sweetpea black and white sketch. Ella Johnston. Plant of the Fortnight ellasplace.co.uk
It’s not quite sweetpea season yet but once they come I hope to fill little jars and bottles. They look so lovely all grouped together – particularly so when I’m having any outdoor garden gathering.

Not only are they a pleasure to display, they are also a joy to draw. These black and white sketches didn’t take long to do but it’s fun to capture the folds and structure of the individual blooms if you like line drawing (which I do). I can’t wait to go wild with my colour paints when I work up the watercolour versions.
Sweetpea black and white sketch. Ella Johnston. Plant of the Fortnight ellasplace.co.uk

11 Flamingo Home Buys

Flamingo buys from ellasplace.co.uk

Nothing quite says fun, tropical and sunshine than a bright pink flamingo. So much so I’ve created some flamingo prints myself. Here’s one below available at my Folksy shop

Flamingo Print by Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk

Anyway enough about me. There are a plethora of fab flamingo designs you can buy this summer. From kitsch watering cans, funky cake candles and garden decs to gloriously luxe silky cushions, contemporary objet and lamps plus tropical beach towels and picnic accessories, even the most muted of interior tastes can be won over with a cheeky on-trend flamingo buy!

Check out my 11 favourites below…

Flamingo buys ellasplace.co.uk
Watering can from Dotcomgiftshop
Flamingo buys ellasplace.co.uk
Silk Flamingo cushion from Love Myrte
Flamingo buys ellasplace.co.uk
Garden Flamingo Set from Maiden
Flamingo buys ellasplace.co.uk
Flamingo Votives from I Decorate Shop
Flamingo buys ellasplace.co.uk
Princess Flaminia Canvas from Lime Lace
Flamingo buys ellasplace.co.uk
Scatter Cushion from Sainsbury’s
Flamingo buys ellasplace.co.uk
Breaking Dawn Large Shade from Anna Jacobs London
Flamingo buys ellasplace.co.uk
Flamingo Candle Set from Oliver Bonas
Flamingo buys ellasplace.co.uk
Flamingo Mica Wallpaper from B&Q
Flamingo buys ellasplace.co.uk
Flamingo Towel from BHS (you may get a bargain on this now)
Flamingo buys ellasplace.co.uk
Flamingo Paper Plates from Ginger Ray

 

Finished bird of the fortnight: colour flycatcher

Flycatcher (c) Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk

Although the spotted flycatcher is quite a dull bird I couldn’t resist giving it a somewhat sun-kissed appearance for my final, finished watercolour and ink illustration. I think I was imagining this little grey silver bird perched on a headstone as sun was setting, looking around for a little tasty morsel flitting around in the fading light.

With this in mind I’m in the mood for some colour so I think I’m going to draw a more exotic bird next fortnight… Watch this space.