Friday fun! Botanical love; more spoils from the garden

Garden flowers ellasplace.co.uk

More indulgent love for botanicals from me. My garden just keeps giving. Roses. ellasplace.co.uk

What a beautiful, beautiful summer it’s been so I’ve been reaping more spoils from the garden.
Roses. ellasplace.co.uk We have beautiful bright pink roses which need constant pruning – they just keep blooming. This is great for us as we have an abundant supply of vibrant blooms to grace our rooms with.
Roses. ellasplace.co.uk Luckily we’re also in dahlia season so everyday I’m checking which heads I can chop to bring indoors and display in our home.
Dahlia. ellasplace.co.uk I love a big fat dahlia bloom – you can display a single stem and enjoy its wonderful structure and architecture. So I’ve placed one of my orange flowers in this lovely marble effect  vase I found at a charity shop and the other in my favourite green fishbowl vase (sorry about the reflections, I’ve still got so much to learn about photography and picture editing)
Dahlia. ellasplace.co.uk

dahalia 1

Drawing of the week: A rainbow unicorn!

Unicorn Print Ella Johnston. Available on Not On The High Street.

I know. Me? A rainbow unicorn? Drawing of the week? Yes, yes and yes.

The unicorn is a very special drawing for me as it meant doing something out of my comfort zone and taking a bold step.

Last month I visited the Not On The High Street partner day – it’s a great event for all the sellers on the site to come together learn from each other while also getting insights and advice from the NOTHS team. One of the services they offered was a clinic looking at my shop and evaluating all my products. To be honest this was a big deal for me – after creating the illustration, designing the products, shooting them, writing the products and marketing them, sometimes criticism, however useful, constructive and helpful, can be hard to take. But I have resolved this year to take the advice, learn from any criticism and act on it and most of all not to take things personally. So I made use of this years clinic for my shop.

Actually I received very little criticism. I was on trend, my products and photography were really good and I got the word ‘beautiful’ a lot (always good). I just needed to work on my SEO and put some of my products into a more lifestyle setting. After all that stealing myself it was one of the most positive experiences I’ve ever had.

Unicorn Print Ella Johnston. Available on Not On The High Street. God, this is getting to be a long story, sorry.

Anyway I asked the women running the clinic if there was anything I could do to improve my offering, anything my style could be suited too, anything new I could try. “A unicorn” they said, “Create a range with a unicorn.”

Okay.

But I don’t do girly stuff. I don’t do fanciful stuff.

Why don’t I?

Why don’t I try something I’ve not explored before?

So I set about answering this brief. I wanted to do it with enthusiasm, integrity, honesty and love, like I do with all of my illustrations. After lots of visual research, I got really excited about this new challenge and set myself seven days to create the illo then get it onto a print and get it into the shop.

I picked up my watercolour paints and fine nib black pens and went to work. Dr B was quite surprised, he envisaged a mythical, goth type creation instead he got a handsome steed with a rainbow mane – a girly unicorn!

Unicorn Print Ella Johnston. Available on Not On The High Street. So here is the unicorn print. I’m immensely proud of it as it represents more than a drawing but is a symbol of my journey as an illustrator and as a person, leaping into the unknown and trying something new. I’m hanging this bad boy in my office now to show me why it’s so important to keep striving. You can buy my print on Not On The High Street. 
Unicorn Print Ella Johnston. Available on Not On The High Street.

Monday Moodboard: Midcentury Modern

MCMMoodboard

I’ve many go-tos for inspiration and although you may not think it, mid-century modern design and illustration is one of my favourite sources. That’s why it’s made this week’s Monday Moodboard.

Although my drawing style is heavily influenced by classical botanical illustration, I actually came to it via the route of mid-century modern. How? Well, when you look inside the original mid-century homes, as well as all those gorgeous geo designs,  amazing furniture, playful use of line and fearless colour combinations, there would always be a classic print or two hung on the wall, so I thought “if it’s good enough for them…”

Anyway this is one of my most loved periods for design and illustration I suppose it came from the fact that Dr B and I lived in mid-century apartments for the first 14 years together so we both became interested in this style in terms of design and architecture. For pure nostalgia value here are some pics of our old flat.

mid-century modern flat ellasplace.co.uk mid-century modern flat ellasplace.co.uk mid-century modern flat ellasplace.co.uk

There is so much to find in mid-century modern design, which is why it is such a rich source of inspiration.  I mean just look at the examples on the moodboard. It’s not all about Lucienne Day Calyx fabric (although I blatantly love that design and would have it in every room in the house if I was allowed) or Ercol furniture (although again I adore it and have a lovely 1960s original Ercol dining table and chairs in the kitchen). Design from this period can be ornate and playful and also simple, concise and elegant.

Why this week? I’m currently working on a poetry book for Dunlin Press, an indie publishing house run by me and Dr B. I wanted something that keyed into classic book cover design with a bit of an edge so I’ve been trawling the internet and my design books and the mid-century vibe seems to be the route to explore. I’m not saying our book will look anything like the above but whether you are designing a book cover, thinking about a fabric pattern or imagining a room scheme, in fact whatever creative endeavour you’re undertaking it’s good to have a starting point to kick start your work.

Monday Moodboard: Vintage illustrations

Vintage Illustration Moodboard ellasplace.co.ukI’ve spent the past seven days hard at it drawing and my go-to source of inspiration is vintage botanical and nature illustrations.

I’m drawn to the detail in each drawing, the application of colour and the simple, clear composition. I believe these illustrations allow the viewer to really see what’s being depicted without distracting backgrounds or off-putting extraneous elements. I think that’s why they’re classics.

Real homes: my display shelves

DisplayShelf 2 At Ella’s Place I like to keep things real – especially when it comes to homes stuff. So here’s a peek at my display shelves unit, which lives in my lounge.
DisplayShelf 4 The shelf itself was picked up ages ago at a Habitat sale and I think it was about £100. We loved the bright red colour and its different sized square and rectangular cubby holes – great for both books and little bits and pieces. 
DisplayShelf 3

We’ve filled a lot of the cubby holes with mini art and design books, vintage plays and poetry collections, a complete edition of the 1974 Encyclopaedia Britannica, which we got from a neighbour.  We’ve placed various ceramics we’ve picked up over the years in the rest of the shelves. We’ve also used the unit as a home for some of our various characters from our menagerie – you can read about their back stories here and here
DisplayShelfI designed the fabric for the floor lamp to suite in with the shelving, everything else in the room is rather dark so both the unit and lighting provide a little pop of colour we need.  I made this light with a Dannells Floor Lamp Making Kit and got the fabric printed via Spoonflower.

Drawing of the week: Birds of Brazil

Birds of Brazil Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.ukThis week’s drawing of the week is my Birds from Brazil guide, created as a celebration of the up-coming Rio 2016 Olympics.
Bird of Brazil illustration Ella Johnston
My illustrated guide features six Brazilian bird illustrations; blue nuthatch, anaripe manakin, toucan, Brazilian tanager, chestnut-backed tanager and green-headed tanager.

Bird of Brazil illustration Ella Johnston
All the drawings are created with watercolour and black pen – you know, my trademark illustration style. You can buy the print of these Brazilian beauties at my Not On The High Street shop click here to see it.

Bird of Brazil illustration Ella Johnston
Bird of Brazil illustration Ella Johnston
Bird of Brazil illustration Ella Johnston
Green Tanager Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk

Easy, Cheap Display Ideas: Spoils from my Garden

Fern Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk The garden is a great place to source bits and pieces for a quick, easy and cheap display. Ideal for weddings and parties or, for me, as last minute props when photographing my prints and stationery.
Ferns Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.ukAs our ferns are so lush and green at the mo, I’ve been snipping the odd leaf to place in clear containers for the ultimate elegant display. Teaming them with over-it cow parsley also looks very effective as a simple structural tableaux.
Poppy Heads Ella Johnston
We had an abundance of poppies this year. Now they’re all done I’ve got loads of fab poppy heads to have as year-round loveliness. I’ve combined these with some dried out teasels that my mum gave me last year and placed them in a vintage jug I picked up from a charity for a loose organic feel.

Quick and Easy Update: Hang Fabric hoops

Fabric hoop display ellasplace.co.ukIf you’re short of time or money here’s a super quick, easy way of giving your walls an update. Just buy a set of embroidery hoops, stretch some over some scrap fabric (it doesn’t have to be ‘proper’ haberdashery fabric you can use old shirts or dresses) and there you go!
Fabric hoop display ellasplace.co.ukThe great thing about this is you can change the display to suit the seasons. And if you’re so inclined, you can also add a little stitching over your fabric with slogans and patterns.
Fabric hoop display ellasplace.co.uk

Drawing of the week: Retro flowers

Retro Flowers Ella Johnston

What inspired my retro flower drawings of the week I hear you ask? Well, a couple of weeks ago I was looking at moody botanics and loved the idea of beautiful blooms set against deep dark backgrounds. This also coincided with me becoming obsessed with vintage floral duvet cover designs. And I’m not talking about those pretty ditzy Cath Kidston inspired numbers, no I’m thinking of the type of things I had as a small child in the early 1980s (that were practically 1970s).

MoodyBot_2_20

So I’d thought I’d combine the two themes and create this set of retro floral illustrations and pattern design. I think these would look great on home project and I’m thinking of using them on some cushions and lampshades for a real cosy feel in the bedroom – a little nod to the bedrooms of my childhood.

Retro Flowers Ella Johnston

The flowers I’ve illustrated here are ranunculus, dahlia, peony, rose, hydrangea, anemone, rose and succulent, I deliberately choose round shapes that fit together nicely in a kind of clockwork fashion.

Retro Flowers Ella Johnston