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.


Drawing of the week: Red Admiral Butterfly

Red Admiral Butterfly Illustration (c) Ella Johnston

This week’s drawing of the week is of a Red Admiral butterfly.

With the snazzy latin name of Venessa Atalanta (I think I may employ this as a pseudonym at some point), this beautiful creature is coming to a garden or woodland near you! (That’s if you live in the British Isles of course).

This beauty will be part of my every growing illustrated butterfly guide, I’ve got quite a collection of watercolour and ink butterflies now, I’m just trying to decide on which illustrations make the final cut. I’ll show you the finished piece soon.

Monday Moodboard: National Stationery Week #natstatweek

Monday Moodboard Stationery

Seeing as it’s National Stationery Week  (#natstatweek) I thought it was only right for my Monday moodboard to be dedicated to the joy of stationery.

Stationery is a core thing in our house – with the amount we have you’d think jotters, pens, correspondence and pencils practically held the place up.

I obviously get through a LOT of pencils and pens (namely those uni pin pens pictured) with my drawing and illustration business and of course my work with Uni-ball.  Finding the perfect pen is a very wonderful, joyous thing and I have different ones for specific uses and moods. I cannot write (let alone draw) with a bad pen – it genuinely hurts me. My pencils too conform to the same high standards. I only use two brands and always have to be pin-point sharp (done with a scalpel). Dr B despairs of the amount of pencil shavings he’s had to clear up over the years.

Dr B and myself can’t quite commit ourselves to organising our lives digitally so we tend to rely on our collection of notebooks, diaries and wall planners. As well as being a rather successful journalist the wonderful Dr B also writes creatively (check out his poetry book, designed by moi, here),  as long as I’ve known him he has always had a creative journal on the go that is separate to his day job. We’ve got quite a collection of these books now and they serve as a very special time capsule; so much nicer than a load of files on a computer.

I’m also a bit of a paper obsessive. This comes from years as a crafter and artist plus more than a decade looking at various paper stocks as a magazine editor and when I tentatively launched my own stationery business in 2011. So this week on the blog is dedicated to all things #natstatweek and  paper-based – watch this space.


2 healthy vegan Buddha bowl recipes

Buddha Bowls from TCH Ella Johnston

As soon as I saw these Gisela Graham bowls from The Contemporary Home I immediately thought they would make fantastic Buddha bowls. So I’ve got two fab healthy vegan recipes for you to try this weekend.

After being a vegetarian for many, many years, I’ve been toying with the idea of going vegan for a while now. It’s not just a healthy eating thing, it’s the ethics of the whole thing too.  I’m still only managing five days out to seven (basically I am having the occasional egg and the odd feta sprinkle)  but other than that I’m getting there.

Anyone on instagram or pinterest would have come across Buddha bowls in all their colourful, wonderful forms. As I am looking for ways to get all my protein and nutrition from a vegan diet, they have been particularly useful for me as they essentially ask you to include an element from your healthy food groups (although I’ve left out the grains on one).

At a width of 18cm and depth of 9cm, these bowls were ideal to try out two recipes that have been taking shape in my mind. The first is my take on a Thai salad.

Buddha Bowls from TCH Ella Johnston
Buddha Bowls from TCH Ella Johnston this you’ll need for two…
A couple of handfuls of baby spinach, pea shoots and purple radish leaves
A pack of Cauldron Firm Tofu cut into chunks and fried in coconut oil
Two medium carrots, grated
One small mango, sliced
Half a red pepper, cut into thin slices
A small pack of coriander, finely chopped
One medium red chilli, finely chopped
Two  limes
A teaspoon of sesame oil
Two teaspoons of low salt soya sauce
A scattering of black and white sesame seeds

Buddha Bowls from TCH Ella Johnston
While your frying the tofu, prep the veg. Grate the carrots, chop the peppers and mango. Finely slice the chillies and coriander.

To make the dressing put the squeeze a lime and a half into a cup, then add the sesame oil and soya sauce. Add half of your sliced chilli and give it a good stir.

Assemble by leaving a layer of peashoots and raddish leaves at the bottom. Place your spinach, the tofu, the peppers, carrot and mango in little groups.

Pour over your dressing then scatter on the chopped coriander and remaining half chilli. Finish with a scattering of black and white sesame seed. For an extra zine give the dish half of lime cut into quarters for you to squeeze on.
Buddha Bowls from TCH Ella Johnston then did a North African inspired bowl…
Buddha Bowls from TCH Ella Johnston
For this you’ll need for two…
A couple of handfuls of purple kale
A pack of Cauldron Firm Tofu cut into chunks and fried in coconut oil
Four small tomatoes, quartered
Six baby aubergines, quartered and roasted with coconut oil
Two sweet potatoes, cut into cubes and roasted with coconut oil
One tin of chickpeas
Paprika, sumac and cumin
Half a green pepper, cut into thin slices
A small pack of parsley finely chopped
A couple of sprigs of mint finely chopped
One medium red chilli, finely chopped
Teaspoon of olive oil
Two tablespoons of soya yoghurt
One lemon
One garlic clove, finely chopped
A teaspoon of tahini
A scattering of pomegranate seeds
Buddha Bowls from TCH Ella Johnston
Cover the aubergine and sweet potato with a teaspoon of paprika, sumac and cumin then pop in the oven to roast and fry the tofu. While that’s all happening slice your tomatoes, peppers and chilli and chop the herbs. Pour the olive oil into your (clean) hands and massage into the kale.

Mix in the herbs, chilli and pepper into the (drained) chickpeas. To make the dressing, put the soya yoghurt into a cup, then add finely chopped garlic, the tahini and the juice of a lemon, add in a sprinkling of paprika and cumin and give it a good stir.

Buddha Bowls from TCH Ella Johnston

Assemble by leaving a layer of kale at the bottom. Place your tofu, the tomatoes, aubergine and sweet potatoes and the chickpea mixture in little groups.

Give the bowl a good dollop of dressing to mix in then scatter on the pomegranate seeds and a sprinkle of sumac. 
Buddha Bowls from TCH Ella Johnston

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.

Drawing of the week, Stone Curlew

Stone Curlew illustration (c) Ella Johnston

This stone curlew looks so grumpy I had to make him my drawing of the week.

I became fascinated with Stone Curlews after watching Springwatch a few years back where one was brooding her chicks – I was rooting for the whole family.

They are quite rare in the UK, visiting occasionally in areas such as Norfolk and Wiltshire. They are not related to our long-billed friends the curlew,  but they do have a similar call hence the name. See that big yellow eye? That’s because this fella is mainly active at night and that peeper helps him see in the dark.

As usual I created this illustration using watercolour and ink with a combination of broad and fine tips to capture the variation in texture. I wanted to keep the bird drawing quite scruffy, depicting him as if he’d just been discovered foraging among the rocks and stones.

Monday Moodboard: Birds

Monday Moodboard Birds

Well it was only a matter of time before I treated you a Monday Moodboard of birds.

As you know an awful lot of my drawing practice centres around birds. So much of my time is spent trawling and taking images of birds to study and illustrate. This is absolutely no hardship for me. I could honestly spend all my time looking at my feathered friends.

Recently I have been  focussing on heads and shoulders to create bird portraits for my show at the Over The Sofa Gallery at Wivenhoe Bookshop. It’s a small space and I wanted to do it as a site specific piece, the show is called Family Portraits so it has a kind of homely feel. It consists of nine A6 watercolour and ink drawings and four A6 pieces.

The show is on until April 30.

Birds at Wivenhoe Books

Wanna know what each bird is? Well here they are…
Top row from left: Puffin, Long Eared Owl, Starling
Middle row from left: Lapwing, Peacock, Pigeon
Bottom row from left: Cormorant, Robin, Crested Grebe
On shelf: Black Redstart, Budgie, Goldfinch, Dartford Warbler.

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 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

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).