Drawing of the week: Happy yellow budgie

Yellow Budgie Illustration (c) Ella Johnston

This time my drawing of the week is of a very happy yellow budgie.

I do tend to anthropomorphise the subjects of my drawings particularly my bird portraits  as I do find a very deep connection with the animals in my illustrations. I suppose I can’t help but be sentimental about this guy in particular as my sister had budgies as pets.

But it’s true of all of my creature illos; when you spend the time with them that I do studying and scrutinising every feature, you can’t help but feel closer to your subjects. I admit that after many sessions with my watercolour and ink to create each drawing I probably imbue my animals with qualities they don’t really have.

For example I think this yellow fella is smiling at us – he just looks so cheekily delighted with himself.

Home hack: Lovely everlasting botanical display

Eucalyptus (c) Ella Johnston

An everlasting display is a lovely thing plus a cheap and easy home hack to boot.

Thistle (c) Ella JohnstonRegular visitors to Ella’s place know how much I love creating floral displays – they are a lovely way to give the place a refresh without costing you a fortune. Plus I think it’s important to bring elements of nature into your home.

Eucalyptus and thistles are great to buy fresh and then let them dry in the house. The make a lovely permanent arrangement as they fade into silvery tones and provide a lovely structured display.Poppy heads (c) Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.ukLast summer I also gathered spent allium and poppy heads from the garden to decorate our spaces. Again, the faded hues and structured shape look really effective all year round.

Doglamp and seed heads Ella Johnston

Monday Moodboard: Cherry Blossom

Monday moodboard: Cherry Blossom Ellasplace.co.uk

Today’s Monday Moodboard is dedicated to cherry blossom for no other reason than I love it and gives me a sense of a little bit of magic at this time of year.

When you are busy and going about your business you can forget to look up, but it’s so important to do so as so much wonder can reveal itself, especially at springtime. Whether you are in the country or the city chances are you’ll see a tree that’s frothy with flowers. It is such a joy, particularly for me when it contrasts with a dark grey or stunning blue sky (you know me, always looking for colour combo inspiration).

 

Drawing of the week: Peacock

Peacock illustration (c) Ella Johnston

Here’s my drawing of the week – a rather glorious peacock.

I have been outrageously busy of late. There has been some fantastic collaborations with Uni-ball pens already this year, an amazing commission for Guardian Labs/Brittany Ferries, a new book from Dunlin Press and an up-coming exhibition. Which leads me on to this week’s drawing.

This is essentially a sneak peek into some of the bird portraits I’ll be exhibiting in my local book indie bookshop, Wivenhoe Books. It’s an intimate little space and is perfect for giving some of my smaller illustrations a gentle showcase. The size of this piece is A5 so it will work well in a more compact hanging area.

Peacocks are becoming my new favourite thing to draw. I’ve been doing lots of sketches of peacock feathers but I thought for the show I’d give a ‘head and shoulders’ watercolour and ink portrait a go. I’m rather pleased with the result and am particularly taken with the plumage.

To state the blindingly obvious, the peacock is the male bird; the female is known as a peahen and she doesn’t have the snazzy tail. The reason I say this is that I once (this is a while back mind) searched for hours for female peacock and obviously came up with zilch.

Monday Moodboard: Insects

Monday Moodboard: Insects

This Monday’s Moodboard introduces you to my new obsession… Insects!

Just as with the shells last week, this moodboard shows you that my drawing interests are moving towards more organic, smaller forms, exploring their structure and beauty.

As you can see I’m not the first artist to be inspired by these creatures. These vintage anatomical illustrations will inspire my own work and I hope to capture the iconic shapes of these little critters as well as their intricate detail.

 

Daffodils! Hello Spring!

daffodils (c) Ella Johnston

This time of year is so precious. Spring is coming and cheap posies of daffodils are in the shops. When these blooms are in abundance I buy two bunches every week for an instant hit of natural colour in my home. Unless I cut something from my garden, my floral displays are never usually that cheap.

By the way, the vase was given to me by my mum and dad who found these vintage Horlicks jars at an antique auction. It’s one of my favourite vases for displaying blooms.

Drawing of the week: Flamingo Head

Flamingo (c) Ella Johnston

This week’s drawing of the week is of a bright pink flamingo head.

I must admit it has taken me a little while to warm to the flamingo bird, although really fun to paint and draw (you can really go to town with pink watercolour here), it was a bird that never really got under my skin like a puffin, lapwing or curlew. I suppose I was put off because they have been so popular as a motif in homewares and stationery design.

Perhaps I also thought they were show-offs of the avian world – to me they were just a bit too lairy with their pink plumage. Maybe I was jealous – no one could accuse me of being leggy and it’s rare that I splash out with colour in a sartorial sense (I leave that for my illustration).

Of course I was wrong. I mean these birds are magnificent creatures and when you find our about these birds they really are fascinating. Here are some fun flamingo facts…

Special bills
Flamingos beaks  are specially adapted to separate mud and silt from the food they eat. The bills are uniquely used upside-down. Don’t know what I mean? Take a look here…

In the pink
Their distinctive pigment comes from carotenoids they eat in animal and plant plankton which are broken down into pigments by liver enzymes.

Flam Fam
Flamingos are very social birds. Their colonies can be thousands strong. This protects them from predators and enables them to nest more efficiently.

What a pair
The birds perform synchronised ritual displays in colonies. The members of a group stand together and display to each other by stretching their necks upwards, making calls while head-flagging, then flapping their wings. Flamingos form strong partnerships although in larger colonies flamingos sometimes change mates (well we’re all allowed to change our minds). Both the male and the female play a part in building and defending the nest. Occasional same-sex pairs have been reported, which makes me happy.

Don’t you just love flamingos a bit more now?

 

Drawing of the week: Eucalyptus

Eucalyptus illustration (c) Ella Johnston

My drawing of the week is a young eucalyptus plant.

I was at a friend’s house last weekend and she had gorgeous bunch of eucalyptus in her lounge. They also looked so elegant placed on their own in the vase, unadorned, unfettered by other blooms. Inspired by these I had to source some of my own sprigs to draw.

It has kick-started me trying out some more botanical illustrations. I’ve already done some further eucalyptus sketches and some more watercolour and ink drawings of ferns.