Drawing of the week: The Green-headed Tanager

Green Tanager Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk

I’m currently working on a birds from brazil illustration series to coincide with this years Olympics. While researching this topic I kept coming across images of the green-headed tanager.

The Green-headed Tanager (c) Ella Johnston

This small, colourful bird can be found in the Atlantic forest in south-eastern Brazil and far eastern Paraguay.

The Green-headed Tanager sketch (c) Ella Johnston

The creature measures an average of 13.5cm. Its preferred habitat is humid forests but there have been sightings in orchards and parks; apparently its flashy blue-green coloration camouflages well among the foliage.

Green Tanager Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk

As this bird is so colourful and full of character it was tremendous fun to draw. It was great to break out the brighter colours in my watercolour box. Plus, I couldn’t resist creating lots of sketches to capture the quirky, playful nature of this vibrant little critter.
The Green-headed Tanager sketch (c) Ella Johnston
The Green-headed Tanager sketch (c) Ella Johnston

Moodboard Monday: Green and white

Ellas Place Moodboard Monday

As an artist, illustrator and journalist, observation, research and image gathering are key to the success of my work. So from now on I’m letting you in on my working practice every week with my Monday Moodboards.

I’m always taking pictures of things that catch my eye and (much to Dr B’s chagrin) spend at least a couple of hours a day on Pinterest (probably not very healthy I know) collecting all kinds of images that reflect trends and serve as inspiration for my home and my drawings. Making them into a moodboard distills my thoughts and allows me to think about the vibe I want to create with my own endeavours.

I’ve recently become fascinated by green and white. It is so representative of this time of year. During the past three weeks I’ve been greeted with this glorious colour combination on my daily morning woodland and riverside walks. Lush grass, delicate hawthorn flower and cow parsley abound the environment creating delightful glades and giving everything a soft, elegant appearance. Beautiful.

This simple palette has so much potential in terms of design and it’s versatile too; a simple flower arrangement, artful grouping of fern and minty coloured objet, delicate planting or full-on statement floor and wall tiles, there are so many ways to incorporate this look into your home.  Used wisely it can look stylish in a laid back, understated way. And even if you’re not actually using natural elements or motifs it suggests a natural, organic feel. The clean, fresh scheme and simplicity reflected in my mood board has also given me food for thought when it comes to my illustrations – sometimes maybe less is more?

Plant of the fortnight: Hibiscus

Hibiscus Flower watercolour Ella Johnston An opulent bloom, the Hibiscus is a very hardy, versatile plant and thrives in tropical conditions. It is a member of the Malvaceae family and the name is Latin for marshmallow.

The flower is very showy and gregarious and as such it attracts butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds.

This is actually the last plant of the fortnight post. After a year working on the blog I’ve given it a review and have decided on a few changes. Instead of bird/plant of the fortnight, I’ll be doing one ‘Drawing of the week’ post every Tuesday. So you’ll still get your illustration fix.

In keeping with my tropical mood next week I will be showcasing several drawings of the Green-headed Tanager – a beautiful bird native to Brazil.

How to Rock Your Collections: Group them

Vintage Pottery Vignette ellasplace.co.uk One of something won’t do for me and I admit it’s a bit of problem.  The thing is, once a nice bit of design catches my eye, be it a print by a particular artist, a ceramic from a certain period or just an object that makes me smile, I can’t fail to be attracted to more examples of that ‘thing’. Which means I have a number of collections.
Vintage Pottery Vignette ellasplace.co.uk I’ve found the best way to manage my little obsessions is to group some of the similarly sized objects together to create little mini still lives.  They are a really effective way to make your pieces look more coherent, emphasise the qualities and idiosyncrasies of those objects and get people talking about them. I first did this with thrift shop buys, teaming them with classic pieces I already had that I was displaying in my hallway.
Neon candle vignette ellasplace.co.ukI fell for last year’s neon trend rather hard so I’ve placed my brightly coloured candle sticks on top of the piano in the dining room (well it’s my modern day take on the candelabra). They look great set against my teal-coloured wall (Lido from Mini Moderns if you’re interested). I made sure to buy clashing candles to sit in them for the ultimate vibrant colour pop. These orange ones really pack a punch.
Neon candle vignette ellasplace.co.uk When me and Dr B moved into our Wivenhoe house, my sister Lucy bought us some cute vintage cups and saucers as a house-warming present. A couple of weeks later I was in a local antiques shop and saw a teapot and jug to match – it was destiny, so I needed them to be reunited. Then I spotted another two teapots of a similar ilk and I thought “in for a penny”.
Vintage Teapots Vignette ellasplace.co.uk At first Dr B rolled his eyes at my purchase but once artfully arranged on our white shiny sideboard in our dining room, it gave what can be quite a clinical surface a quirky homespun finish that we were both impressed with.
Vintage Teapots Vignette ellasplace.co.uk So if you’ve got some pieces that are dotted around the place why not bring them together and see how they look.