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.

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.

#FreebieFriday Stationery Giveaway!

Ella Johnston Stationery In celebration of National Stationery Week I thought I’d do a little #FreebieFriday stationery giveaway. Just retweet this or share on Facebook to be entered into a prize draw – remember to tag me in though otherwise I won’t know you’ve done it.
Ella Johnston Stationery So what do you win? You get your hands on this lovely 12-card boxed set worth £36 containing the following…
– Two A6 Forget Me Not Thank You Cards
– Two A6 Loving Budgie Cards
– Two A6 Lovebird Cards
– Two 15cm square Coal Tit Cards
– Two 15cm square Willow Tit  Cards
– Two 15cm square Butterfly Cards
– Eight assorted gift tags and ties
– Matching envelopes
– Mini heart charm.
Ella Johnston Stationery Giveaway closes on Monday 1st May, winner will be picked at random.

National Stationery Week: Ella Johnston Edit #natstatweek

Eucalyptus Wedding Invitation (c) Ella Johnston
Eucalyptus Thank you card from Ella Johnston’s wedding collection

I can’t let National Stationery Week (#natstatweek) pass without a bit of blatant self promotion (sorry). So here’s the Ella Johnston stationery edit – all available on my Not On the High Street shop.

All the wedding stationery, correspondence and greeting card collections feature my hand-drawn illustrated motifs. All illustrations (mostly birds and botanicals with the odd unicorn thrown in) are created in watercolour and fine line pen then they’re scanned, laid out with a finest fonts available to humanity and printed on beautiful FSC paper in the UK.

Flamingos Wedding Invitation (c) Ella Johnston
Flamingo Save the Date Cards from Ella Johnston’s wedding collection
Journal and postcard stationery set Ella Johnston
Bird portrait journal and postcard stationery set from Ella Johnston
Unicorn Greeting Ella Johnston
Unicorn Greeting Card

Ella Johnston on Not On The High Street.

 

The secrets of mindfulness from Ivy Press

Mindfulness booksA few weeks ago I was sent a beautiful collection of books from the Secrets of Mindfulness series. Published by Ivy Press (a subsidiary Quarto), the books are all written by experts in their field and are designed to enhance well-being and reduce stress.

I don’t go on about it that much, but mindfulness is a subject very close to my heart. After years and years of placing myself in stressful situations and pushing myself at work, I learnt to take a step back, relax, appreciate the moment I’m in and take better care of my mind and body; and boy am I a more pleasant person to be around because of it. My life has improved so much since I’ve decided to take some time out.

Mindfulness booksThe books concentrate on Yoga, Reflexology, Pilates and Reiki.

I did a lot of yoga and pilates around the time when was I getting married and I got really into them in for a while (and didn’t look too shabby either) but then I got bogged down into my work and it fell by the wayside. It’s a real regret.

These books reminded me of how fantastic Yoga and Pilates are and how much I enjoyed it when I did it. The tomes talk me through the philosophy, history and basic principles of the practices as well as giving me to starter moves to begin with. Great for this lapsed yogi and good for beginners too!
Mindfulness books

Mindfulness booksI knew a little bit about Reiki and Reflexology through my past life as a journalist where I’ve written some spa features. After professionally having to have many Reiki and Reflexology treatments, I admit that now I generally opt for spa treats that include these elements.

I’m really pleased that these books can allow me to delve into these areas a bit more as they have benefitted me so much when I’ve been in receipt of them. These publications are also brilliant for people who haven’t experienced a Reiki or Reflexology treatments before as they outline what you can expect during the practice, which is really important if you are nervous about that kind of thing (which I know some people are).
Mindfulness books

You can find out more about the books on the Quarto website.

New Products!

Unicorn Card (c) Ella JohnstonI have new products on my Not On The High Street shop; a unicorn card, a hare greeting and a beautiful eucalyptus art print. All are taken from my original watercolour and ink drawings.
Hare Card (c) Ella JohnstonMy hare and unicorn prints have been incredibly popular at various art fairs with many people asking if I was going to produce co-ordinated greetings – well nobody can say I don’t listen! The new Eucalyptus botanical print is a bit of an indulgence to be honest – I simply wanted one for myself. Botanical print (c) Ella Johnston