#FridayFun: Posca Make Today Christmas Pack!

Posca Make Today Christmas pack
Posca Make Today Christmas pack, picture: Cliqq Photography

I have to share this bit of #Fridayfun with you as I’m really so excited. I’m delighted to show off The Posca Make Today Christmas Pack, a product I developed with the marvellous marketing and design team at the Mitsubishi Pencil Company.

Posca Make Today Christmas pack
Posca Make Today Christmas pack, picture: Cliqq Photography

This pack is filled with goodies that will be great for Christmas crafting. Open the box and you’ll find eight specially selected  POSCA pens in different sizes and classic festive colours. The craft kit also includes 10 card blanks plus five sheets of easy draw templates featuring 50+ of my seasonal illustrations to trace and transfer. You’ll also find  24-page booklet that I wrote. It talks you through 16 unique greeting designs to make today, plus five bonus festive makes to create with your pens.

Here’s little peek at some of the designs featured…

Posca Make Today Christmas pack, picture: Cliqq Photography
Posca Make Today Christmas pack, picture: Cliqq Photography
Posca Make it Today Christmas Pack
Posca Make Today Christmas pack, picture: Cliqq Photography
Posca Make Today Christmas Pack
Posca Make Today Christmas pack, picture: Cliqq Photography

You can make your own Christmas cards using the pack but you don’t have to stop there. I’ve also developed 13 extra projects that you can create with the pens – you can see eight of these on the Make Today Website along with loads of extra drawing tips and tricks.

We’ve also made some really simple how-to videos to follow, have a look at this one below…

I’m incredibly proud of our achievement – the pack is a complete solution in a box for the Christmas crafter. I’m so pleased to see my illustrations used commercially and in a format that people can access and use.

You can buy the pack at the Easichalk website...

Posca Make Today Christmas pack
Posca Make Today Christmas pack, picture: Cliqq Photography

Great idea! Spinster and Spool

Spinster and Spool.Isn’t it wonderful when people you know do fab things? I love celebrating the creativity of people I know – it’s always fantastic to see great ideas friends and colleagues have. So today I bring you the fabulous Spinster and Spool…

A little while ago my lovely, super talented ex-colleague Stephanie Durrant set up Spinster and Spool, a creative business hand-embroidering funky little messages on hoops. With Christmas coming up you may want to have a gander as they make brilliant gifts for any sassy women in your life

 Here’s some words from the lady herself…

“I decided to start my embroidery hoop art business Spinster and Spool after making a few hoops for my little flat. I live alone and wanted some positive female quotes that would make me smile and give me a little boost. There are a few sassy song lyrics that have picked me up after a bad run of dates – Taylor Swift, Iggy Azalea and Beyonce are constantly blearing through my headphones! I liked the idea of juxtaposing their feminist attitude with such a traditional craft as embroidery, using pretty, often kitsch, fabrics.

“I find hand sewing so therapeutic and a great focus, so following some great feedback on my own hoops, friends and family encouraged me to start selling my designs. The name didn’t take me too long to come up with and is a little tongue-in-cheek. I also have a blog, Lipstick and Liberty, documenting all the pretty things I’ve made for my flat.

“I first design the layout on InDesign, then print off the typography and trace it onto the fabric. I stitch the outlines in whatever embroidery stitches I think will stand out best and work with the fonts I’ve chosen. Stitching is the fun bit as I can just put my feet up with the cat on my lap of an evening, or I’ve even been known to stitch on the train if I have an urgent commission. I like it when people come to me with their own ideas, too – perhaps a song that’s inspired them or a quote that’s got them through a tough time. I think it’s special that I can make that into something beautiful for them to have in their home, especially if it makes them feel a little more positive. I believe women should pick each other up and support each other, because, as Lily Allen says, ‘It’s hard out here for a bitch!’”

To see more Spinster and Spool designs visit…

Instagram @spinsterandspool

Spinster and Spool Etsy Shop

Lipstick and Liberty Blog

Ella at work: Exhibiting

Forgive the use of an old picture (above) but I wanted to convey a bit of Ella at work action. This is one of me in our old London flat preparing for an exhibition. It’s the same story for every exhibition I’ve done – lots of cutting, trimming, framing and packaging!

I was reminded of this when I prepared my work for the autumn/winter Naze Tower show.

If you haven’t been to the Naze Tower and you are remotely local (it’s one and a half hours from London, half an hour from me in Wivenhoe) then I recommend a visit. Residing on an attractive stretch of coastline at Walton-on-the-Naze, the Naze Tower is an historic 86ft landmark and unique visitor attraction. Over eight floors it houses an art gallery with three exhibitions a year, a museum on the Tower and Naze, tea rooms and a roof viewing platform with spectacular panoramic views.

It’s a charming place and from now until the end of October you can see a selection of my original watercolour and fine line bird drawings on show and get your hands on some of my limited edition prints…



Ella’s Edit: 5 Amazing metallic home buys

1: Tom Dixon brass bowls

This summer I went to a Tom Dixon Autumn/Winter 2017 preview. It’s Tom Dixon so as you can expect it was gorgeous but it was also interesting as there was a very minimal use of metallics. When I asked about this I was told “Everyone has picked up on what Tom has started; people have copper toilet brushes now. And while we love the classics, we also have to innovate with metallics and we need to give them a different edge”.

So we have to do something a bit more interesting with metallic tones and I’ve picked five amazing metallics pieces that do just that.

I love the Tom Dixon brass bowls featured above – in fact I have a set myself. The burnished, matte surface immediate gives pieces patina and I think this muted metallic look is a good starting point for selecting contemporary metallic accessories for this season.

2: Filled votive, Sainsbury’s

At £145 for the set, the Tom Dixon bowls may be a bit of a stretch for humble home accessories (I got mine as a birthday gift from DR B to be fair). If you do like a bit of burnished gold on a budget, this filled votive from Sainsbury’s is a steal at £6.

3: Ceiling Pendant Light in Black, Atkin and Thyme

Metallic accents also really work. This ceiling pendant light in black from Atkin and Thyme gives this industrial shade a luxurious edge. Just like the Dixon bowls it’s burnished copper interior avoids the bling some metallics give off rather is adds warmth and texture. At £99, it would make a stunning statement in a minimal space.

4: Metallic lustre vase, The Contemporary Home

If you do need a bit of bling, the aged effect on this this metallic lustre vase from The Contemporary Home tones down the shiny and ramps up the texture. At £6 I can see three of these in a line on my based up dining room table, teamed with some twinkly tealights to create a bit of autumn/winter atmosphere at a dinner party.

5: Cult Living Mountain Print Framed Poster, Cult Furniture

I think an element of shine can still work with metallics – I love this Cult Living Mountain Print Framed Poster from Cult Furniture. These strong copper outlines juxtaposed with the marble textures, matte blacks and soft muted pinks bring out the bling without making it too brash.

Quick craft! Lemon tote #fridayfun

Quick Craft: Lemon ToteAs you read this I will be at the Stitching, Sewing and Hobbycrafts show in Exeter showing people how to use Posca pens, having my very own Friday fun.

I created this lemon tote as a display item for the show and it’s proved so popular I’ve been asked to make them for friends. I love running Posca pen workshops and have great fun sharing my crafty knowledge. So it’s only fair I share this easy make with you.

I made a simple lemon shape in three sizes in black pen on paper. I then slipped it inside the bag and traced the shapes using a yellow Posca. Then I placed a square of stiff card inside the tote and coloured in the shapes with the Posca. I then used a khaki green Posca to draw stems and leaves. Once the paint pens dried I could then add veins to the leaves with a light green Posca and little orange and white dots to the lemon.

I drew the lemon shape, but if you are not confident in your drawing skills you can easily download a shape from the internet to trace and copy. It really is such an effective design that’s easy to recreate from home.

If you’re in Exeter come and join me at the Uniball stand – we’re on until Sunday!

#MondayMotivation Darling Dahlias


It’s mid-September, our house has been battered by East Anglian, River Colne winds and we’re preparing for autumn. Still our dahlia’s thrive – how’s that for a bit of Monday motivation?Dahlia Ella JohnstonDr B has planted loads of different varieties of this fabulous flower in various shades of pink, red and orange so even as we move out of summer, the garden is a real riot of colour.

As well as their impressive, vibrant hues and voluptuous shape, these blooms are so wonderful as you can keep cutting them to display and it just makes the plant even more abundant. Every week we get a fresh homegrown floral display that brightens up our rooms – I hope it’s brightened your Monday.

Cover illustration: Black Headed Gull

Black headed gull illustration (c) Ella Johnston

I recently illustrated the cover for an upcoming book Freedom Poems, published by Poetry Wivenhoe.

The drawing had to illustrate a sense of freedom while also illustrating the location of Poetry Wivenhoe. The black headed gull is very common in Wivenhoe so I chose a flying black headed gull as the motif.

Freedom Poems Cover Illustration (c) Ella Johnston

The illustration was created in watercolour and then overlaid with uni-pin pen.

The book will be released on September 28th.

September drawing of the month: Strutting godwit

Godwit watercolour and fine line illustration (c) Ella Johnston
So pleased to be kicking off my regular illustration posts with my strutting godwit as September’s drawing of the month.

I think godwits are my favourite bird (at least today they are – it’s a bit like picking a favourite song or album for me, it depends on the day, the mood, how I’m feeling etc). You can expect to see godwit bird illustrations coming up quite a few times on my drawing of the month posts.

Work in Progress: Godwit watercolour and fine line illustration (c) Ella Johnston
Work in Progress: Godwit watercolour in the process of adding my fine line

This godwit is sporting his spring/summer mating plumage. I remember seeing an omniscience of godwits (Isn’t that a lovely collective noun? I could have also used “a prayer of godwits” or “a pantheon of godwits”) with their gorgeous russet breasts and soft golden feathers on Iken cliffs and I was practically moved to tears by the birds’ stunning colours and graceful countenance. By the way, if you haven’t been to Iken cliffs it is well worth a visit, it’s one of my favourite places on earth. So atmospheric and serene in any weather.

I created this drawing using Winsor and Newton watercolours on hot-pressed watercolour paper. I then added detail using the Uniball uni-pin pen. These pens have different nib sizes which offer fantastic versatility when working on something like feathers. You can see me start to overlay this pen detail in the video below.

Monthly Moodboard: September, Simplicity

Monthly moodboard, September Simplicity

Although my art is quite intricate I actually strive for simplicity. The bravery and beauty of making a few gestural lines to shapes to convey a subject for me is an incredible achievement. It’s building up to becoming an obsession of mine, as this September moodboard illustrates.

While my desire for simplicity is a long held one, it was compounded this summer by Dr James Fox’s documentary series The Art of Japanese Life where Fox featured Sesshu’s ‘splashed-ink’ landscape (see below), dating back, unbelievably, to 1495.  Let me say that again, 1495!

I think this is a glorious painting. I see so much energy in it and I find it exquisite in composition and atmosphere. I’m also drawn to the simple black and white colour scheme (I would be though wouldn’t I?).

Sesshu's 'splashed-ink' landscape
Sesshu’s ‘splashed-ink’ landscape

It’s also coincided with me getting some brush pens (which I used to create my new header btw), so I’ve been playing around with them try to make simple, gestural images. I find minimalism and knowing when to stop more difficult than adding clever little details and additional descriptive strokes – it’s a real challenge for me. I’m using the work of Toko Shinoda as further inspiration as well as ancient Japanese brush painting of bamboo, birds and butterflies.

What do you think of this style of painting? Do you like those simple strokes? The black and white? Or do you need a little more colour and detail? I’d love to know.