Drawing of the week: mid-century style leaves

Line leaves Ella Johnston

As I’m very happy to share my experiments as well as my finished pieces this week’s drawing of the week is my collection of mid-century style leaves.

I’ve been working on a set of autumn designs and while I’ve been enjoying working with watercolour and ink, these initial pen sketches shown here were a real joy to play with and reminded me of illustrations and fabric motifs from the 1950s.

Normally I would use these as a starting point for something else however I actually like them as they are, they have real potential for pattern designs.

How-to: Easy Glass Lanterns

Posca pen lanterns ellasplace.co.uk Earlier this month I had great fun showing people how to use Posca pens to decorate glass lanterns the easy way at The Stitching, Sewing & Hobbycrafts show at EventCity in Manchester.
Posca pen lanterns ellasplace.co.uk As you know I’ve been working with Posca pens all year, as I’ve done a lot of work with the company, but it’s always better when you can see what other people come with up when you show them how to use the pens.

I ran around five workshops in small groups of five or six everyday and it was such as pleasure to share some knowledge and see others’ creativity flourish.
Posca pen lanterns ellasplace.co.ukI made the illustrated lanterns shown here in preparation for the show, to illustrate how you can use the pens to decorate onto glass, using the different sized nibs and various colours to create different illustrative effects.

Posca pen lanterns ellasplace.co.ukThe glass drawing preparation work I’d done was a great way of kick-starting new ideas from my workshop buddies who used the designs as a inspiration for their own work.

I did a combination of easy dots and strokes, simple girly designs and seasonal Christmas-themed, autumn and halloween illustrations.
Posca pen lanterns ellasplace.co.uk I’d kept the shapes very simple and easy to copy and explored ways you can layer colour with the pen. And while some of my workshoppers stuck to simple dots and strokes or my easy shapes, others were more ambitious, creating stunning intricate designs of their own. It gave me a real buzz.
Posca pen lanterns ellasplace.co.uk You can work directly onto these glasses with the pens. To seal in the design you simply bake the glass in the oven for 160-degrees (Gas mark 2 I think) for 45 mins so we’re using robust glass here. We used glasses from Ikea so that people could easily get more if they developed an addiction for easy glass painting. 
Posca pen lanterns ellasplace.co.uk
I’m doing a mini-tour of with the company and will be doing my do with Posca and other Uni-ball pens at the following venues.

NEC, Birmingham:  3-6 November
ExCeL, London: 17-19 November

Join me if you can, if not just check out what you do with some pens and some glass. Posca pen lanterns ellasplace.co.uk Posca pen lanterns ellasplace.co.uk

Monday Moodboard: Metallics

Monday moodboard: Metallics Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk

Every single interiors retail show I visited over the summer this year featured metallics, particularly copper, that’s why it’s this week’s Monday Moodboard.

Fans of simplicity take note. You don’t have to be full-on bling to embrace a bit of metallic joy in your life (although don’t mind a bit of bling sometimes). Metallics can achieve a dramatic, opulent look but you can also use metallics to add warmth and texture to things as I hope I’ve shown here.

Metallic touches can be subtle, chic and classy I promise; underlaid under shabby chic furniture, incorporated into abstract-impressionist inspired painting, a subtle accent onto painted pebbles, gorgeous vintage bakewares even to brighten up a simply-shaped cake – it’s not all about blinding people with glamour and sparkle.

Friday fun: Sort of Shelfie!

Ella Johnston Dining RoomOf late there has been a trend for ‘shelfies’; things on people’s shelves that reveal a bit about them.

I’ll try and do a semi regular one for Ella’s Place as they are a bit of Friday fun and it’s always nice to have a bit of a nose.

This time I’m doing a ‘sort of shelfie’ with the items on my mainly blue and white dining room sideboard. Here’s a list of items from left to right.

1: Floor lamp made with Dannells kit and bluebell fabric from Spoonflower.
2: Pierre Luigi, a flamboyant Bitossi Rimini pigeon. You can read his story here.
3: PL is sat on Letters of Note and More Letters of Note, visit the Letters of Note Website for fab correspondence.
4: Books, including The Beechwood Airship Interviews by Dan Richards where you can see some of my sister Lucy Johnston’s photography
5: Vintage Habitat vase.
6: Adorable plain grey vase.
7: Our wedding picture (don’t we look young).
8: Old glass bottle with dried flowers, poppy heads and grasses.
9: Fabric covered tea-light box (you can see how I made it here)
10: Large lamp made with Dannells kit using Spoonflower fabric with base sprayed in matt blue paint.

The large square gorgeous thing on the wall is a beautiful Liberty silk scarf the lovely Dr B gave me on our 12th wedding anniversary that I had framed. I adore it.

DIY: My fabric designs

Ella Johnston Fabric designs ellasplace.co.ukI had a very exciting delivery last week from Spoonflower, who sent me some of my new pattern designs on fabric.

Ella Johnston Fabric designs ellasplace.co.ukI’d worked up four designs taken from my illustrations. I wanted to see how they would work as a patten repeat and if it translated onto fabric.
Ella Johnston Fabric designs ellasplace.co.ukElla Johnston Fabric designs ellasplace.co.ukThe theme of this year for me has been to get out of my comfort zone. So I’ve created patterns with my tropical leaf drawings,  laurel leaf and feather design, watercolour spots and fox terrier illustration. I have done other, very simple, designs in the past with my hand-carved heart and leaf designs but these have been one colour one white and very basic repeat. Ella Johnston Fabric designs ellasplace.co.ukThis was new territory for me and I’ve not normally been this playful with my pattern designs before. Still, I’m loving pushing myself and these new design were a lot of fun to put together.
Ella Johnston Fabric designs ellasplace.co.ukCreating repeat fabric designs is kind of like a jigsaw puzzle. I make a ’tile’ so that it’s one square that can be joined together and repeated to create an overall pattern that can cover as big an area as you desire. It’s a really efficient way of creating a  large design.
Ella Johnston Fabric designs ellasplace.co.uk Seeing as I’m talking about getting out of my comfort zone I have to face one major stumbling block for me; sewing! I have undertaken some sewing projects before and have attended some great classes with Sew Over It but I admit I’m not the most confident with a machine.

I think I need some stitchy advice. What should I make with these fab fabrics? Where does an unconfident sewer like me start? Send help!
Ella Johnston Fabric designs ellasplace.co.ukElla Johnston Fabric designs ellasplace.co.uk

 

 

New Thornback & Peel Collection; Blackbird and Bramble

Thornback & Peel Blackbird and Bramble Last week Thornback & Peel launched its Blackbird and Bramble collection and I have to say it’s rather lovely.
Thornback & Peel Blackbird and Bramble As regular visitors to this blog will know I am a fan of Thornback & Peel – anything that celebrates illustrated motifs in fashion and homewares is always a big winner for me.
Thornback & Peel Blackbird and BrambleThis collection is great for the end of the year. The beautiful dark purples and warm pink tones would look great on a rustic country kitchen table. However, combined with the delicate nature-inspired illustration, this collection would also warm up a modern, sleek space too.
Thornback & Peel Blackbird and Bramble


Thornback & Peel’s trademark is its delicate line and beautiful vintage-style illustration. I do admire the way these motifs can translate onto a wide range of products and shapes.

Thornback & Peel Blackbird and Bramble

You can see more of the collection at the Thornback & Peel website.
Thornback & Peel Blackbird and Bramble
Thornback & Peel Blackbird and Bramble

Drawing of the week: Helenium

helenium flower illustration Ella JohnstonInspired by last Friday’s Gardener’s World and indeed my own home-grown efforts this week’s drawing of the week is a helenium.

Heleniums – 7 lovely things for the weekend at http://www.ellasplace.co.ukThis simple watercolour and ink illustration is taken from some of the few remaining flowers of my garden. Heleniums do really well in our garden and stay so long, so I’m always snipping them and displaying them around the house to make them last longer. I wonder how long they will last. Heleniums from our garden. http://www.ellasplace.me ©Ella Johnston.

Monday moodboard: Autumn

Autumn pattern

Rich, warm and inspired by nature – this week’s moodboard is all autumn patterns and motifs.

I know we’re only in September but this change of season is very exciting for me. Autumn’s natural colour way is a source of inspiration in itself. Rich purples and reds, faded greens, soft creams and burnished bronzes make me feel warm as the colder weather creeps in. The motifs too – poppy heads, falling leaves and feathers, pine cones and woodland animals – are such rich pickings for illustrators and artists. I’ve blocked out a whole three days of drawing this week to dedicate myself to precisely these subjects… Watch this space!

Drawing of the week: Feathers

Green feathers Ella Johnston
I’m showing you something different for my drawing of the week – not a finished illustration but some ideas I’m playing with at the moment.

I’m in experimental mode this week, playing with different pens and drawing techniques. I often experiment with illustration but rarely share my playful doodles. However as I’m pushing out of my comfort zone I’m happy to show off my working process, and these feathers, with you.

The ‘playing process’ is so much fun. I get super absorbed with making marks and seeing how shapes and colours interact with each other. It’s a great way of thinking out patterns and new projects.  I’m currently obsessed with feathers – they are a recurring theme for me and an effective way to free up my line and play with colour and shape.

 

Red feathers Ella Johnston

Simple pleasures: garden rose

Garden rose Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk Forgive me. I couldn’t resist sharing a picture of this beautiful rose snipped from our garden. It’s just so soft, peachy and pretty.
Garden rose Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk This rose is so delicate and as we experience the last days of the hot weather (well here in Essex at least). I wanted to celebrate the simple pleasures that life can bring us. Sometimes it’s important to notice the small things.