Easy craft: wipe-clean nesting trays

These wipe-clean nesting trays are just the thing for carrying little treats and drinks and they are easy to make too.

All I did was get a plain set of wooden nesting trays and gave them a lick of chalk paint (Deco Art Americana Decor Chalky finish paint to be exact) in two shades of grey.

I then measured the inside of the trays and cut my laurel leaf and autumn leaves design paper to size. I covered the paper with sticky-back plastic to make it wipe-clean.

I brushed PVA glue on the inside and placed the shiny patterned paper in it to adhere to the bottom of the tray. See, an easy paper make.
I’ve been using these trays for all sorts of things and they haven’t been damaged by ring marks and spillages. They’re so handy I may make a whole load of them as gifts.

Drawing of the week: Orange tip butterfly

Orange tip butterfly illustration (c) Ella Johnston

This week’s drawing of the week is a Orange tip butterfly.

After all that Christmas stuff I’m now working on illustrations for next year and I’m going to make an illustrated guide to butterflies. This is the first of many butterfly drawings.

The latin name for these creatures is Anthocharis cardamines and you can find them in damp pastures and meadows, damp woodland edges and glades, riverbanks, ditches, dykes, fens, railway cuttings and country lanes.

Monday Moodboard Bloomsbury

As you know by now I develop little obsessions over the course of my research and this Monday Moodboard is dedicated to my latest obsession, The Bloomsbury Group and in particular Charleston House.

The Bloomsbury Group was a collective of friends and relatives who were intellectuals, writers and artists. They had all lived, worked or studied together in the London district of Bloomsbury in the early part of the 20th Century that include figures such as Virginia Woolf and her sister Vanessa Bell, the art critic Clive Bell, painter Roger Fry and John Maynard Keynes. Artists Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant (with his lover David Garnett) moved to Charleston House in Sussex at the start of the First World War and stayed there for decades, holding gatherings galore.

The house itself is a work of art in itself; Inspired by Italian fresco painting and the Post-Impressionists, the artists decorated the walls, doors and furniture at Charleston. It’s my mission to visit next year and I will make sure I’ll report back.

Christmas gift wrap ideas part 4: Christmas tree tags

trees_1_white My final Christmas gifting idea can also double up as decorations! I just decorated these mdf Christmas trees with posca pens I had left over from my autumn shows.
trees_1_blackI’m very fond of sticking to a simple set of colours, so as well as using black and white designs I’ve also done some black, silver and gold trees. It’s about as bling as I get. Both of these would go with black wrap or metallic gold and silver papers.
trees_2_whiteAs you can see I’ve used my laurel stem design (how to here), and simple star, snowflake, heart and tinsel motifs.
trees_2_black Another of my go-to motifs is my simple flower design. Like my other Scandi-style shapes it’s really easy to recreate as you’ll see by my how-to below. trees_3_white trees_4_black
demo_flower_4 Simple flower how to step 1:  Make a three curved marks one at the top and two at the bottom. demo_flower_3Simple flower how to step 2:  Add two lines between the triangular shape so the shape resembles a dancing man.
demo_flower_2 Simple flower how to step 3: Draw curves around the lines to make petals and add a dot in the middle.  demo_flower_1 Simple flower how to step 4: Colour in the petals and make little dots around the shape.

Christmas wrap ideas part 3: Super simple black and white

bw_wrapping_3 I’ve deliberately kept it simple for part three of my Christmas wrap ideas with these easy black and white designs.
bw_wrapping_2I’ve opted for a lovely iridescent white paper and teamed it with simple black tags and co-ordinating ribbon. The gestural stem designs are based on my laurel stem illustration, see the step by step here. The Christmas tree and garland are really simple; I used a white Posca pen to create tiered jagged shapes for the tree, waited for the paint to dry and overlaid it with gold dots. For the garland I drew some simple thin lines with a silver Posca pen then added white and gold dots.
bw_wrapping_1

Christmas gift wrap ideas part 2: Scandi-style black and white

wb_wrapping_3 It’s day two of my week of Christmas wrap ideas. This time I’ve gone for a stylish, yet playful Scandi-style as seen in my Scandi Lodge trend ideas with illustrated mdf bauble shaped tags.
wb_wrapping_2 Using my Scandi-style Christmas moodboard and my pinterest pins as inspiration I painted the shapes with white acrylic paint and used black Posca pens to apply the designs.
wb_wrapping_6wb_wrapping_1 I kept the drawings fairly simple with basic star/snowflake shapes, squiggles, hearts, dots and scallops. Because the illustrated baubles create such an impact I kept the wrap itself very simple using shiny black paper with black or white 5mm and 10mm satin ribbon. wb_wrapping_4 wb_wrapping_5One of the easiest Scandi-style motifs I like to create is my simple laurel stem illustration that you can see above on the heart and the Christmas tree designs. It’s very, very easy to recreate as these step by steps show.
demo_laurel_4 Step 1: Draw a simple line, it can be curved or straight, although I prefer mine to be a little jaunty.demo_laurel_3Step 2: Make little semi-circle shapes along the line as shown.demo_laurel_2Step 3: Join the tops of the semi-circle to the central line to create leaves.demo_laurel_1Step 4: Colour in the leaves. 

Monday Moodboard: Pantone Colour of the Year: Greenery

Greenery Moodboard

Last week Pantone announced its colour of the year for 2017. It’s ‘Greenery’ and it makes me happy.

A few design experts have been a bit disparaging about this colour with the name ‘Kermit’ referenced, well as a person who admires the work of Jim Henson I don’t think that’s so bad.

But seriously I  love a bit of greenery, and I was even singing its praises earlier this year. Bringing the colours of nature into your home is a marvellous thing and the vivid shade of this Pantone  works incredibly well with both subtle pastels and equally vibrant hues.

The colour is described by Pantone as a “fresh, yellowish hue” that “symbolises the reawakening of nature in spring and is a symbol for a new beginning”. Great – just what we need after 2016.

I’ve embraced shades of greenery already in my own new print designs (before the announcement I may add) so I’m incredibly happy that it’s not just me looking to find hope in natural colours and forms.

Leaf prints by Ella JohnstonLeaf prints by Ella JohnstonLeaf prints by Ella Johnston

Christmas wrap ideas part 1: Totes trad red and green

whitewrapping_2 Over the next four days I got some top easy gift wrap ideas for giving your Christmas pressies that extra pizzazz.
whitewrapping_3Idea number one is inspired by the totes trad red and white festive theme as outlined in this Christmas trends post. As I might of mentioned, this red, white and green colour scheme is one very much favoured by Dr B. So I always do something every year that’s a little concession to his yuletide preferences (although in fairness he’d have penguins and robins and Santas everywhere if it were up to him).

whitewrapping_4This is my concession to tradition. I have loads of gift tags and Posca pens left over from the craft shows I did this autumn so I thought I’d get busy with some quick and easy wrap revamps.  I used two different nib sizes (5M and 1MR) to create different sized dots on the wrapping paper and some of the tags. I then finished it off with a trad twine bow.  I also completed some of the gifts with a bespoke wreath tag. It’s dead easy to do, so much so I’ve got a little step by step for you below for you to try.
whitewrapping_1 You don’t have to be a fantastic drawer to create this wreath, I’ve shown loads of people how to do it; if you can make a mark you can make this wreath. You’ll need a circular tag and Posca pens in dark and light green, gold (or silver), red and blue.
Ella Johnston Christmas Wreath gift tag tutorial Step 1: Make a dark green circle using a rough layered zig-zags.
Ella Johnston Christmas Wreath gift tag tutorial Step 2: Overlay the dark green with a lighter shade.
Ella Johnston Christmas Wreath gift tag tutorial Step 3: Once your wreath is dry (the pens are paint based so you can use them as such) use the gold pen to draw lines around the ring as above, like it is wrapped around the wreath. Once you have covered the wreath with gold lines draw circles along the lines to make a string of beads.
Ella Johnston Christmas Wreath gift tag tutorial Step 4: Add coloured baubles in-between the gold bead garland.
Ella Johnston Christmas Wreath gift tag tutorial
Step 5: Write a little festive phrase in the middle.

Drawing of the week: Zebra

zebralowres_20

This time for my drawing of the week I’ve done a very earnest little Zebra. Even in the middle of doing loads of Christmassy type stuff I still made time to work on my zoo animals series.

Although I love black and white drawings I can never resist subverting a traditional black and white subject with a bit of colour, so as well as using my black pens on this illustration I’ve adding some purple and yellow watercolour notes.

Moodboard: Scandi-style Christmas

Scandi Christmas MoodboardMy posts have been sporadic of late because I have been having the busiest time sending out Christmas orders and selling my ways in various Christmas markets. It’s been fun but boy has it been full-on.

Anyway, my festive mood, and indeed this Monday Moodboard,  is in total full flow now working on a set of Scandi-style designs and illustrations for Christmas demos for Posca pens and for my Christmas wrapping. I’ll reveal more of this later in the week but in the mean time enjoy some of the patterns and imagery that has been inspiring me.