My October drawing of the month is of a flying dunlin.
As the co-founder of Dunlin Press this bird is particularly important to me and Dr B. We are very fond of these birds, very soon they’ll be scuttling around in the mud on Wivenhoe quay.
I’ve been drawing dunlins for a little while now, and even have a print of another dunlin drawing available on Folksy, but I’ve never attempted to draw a flying dunlin before. They are quite magical when they fly. I normally spot these wading birds in groups scurrying around on the mud as the tide is coming in during twilight so it’s quite hard to see them at first. You can just about detect them by a little flash of white on their bellies. It’s only when they fly do you see them fully as the white plumage underneath their wings catches and twinkles in the moonlight, it’s lovely.
I created this illustration with washes of watercolour and picked out the details with a uni-pin fine line pen, you can see me adding some detail in the video below…
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.
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.
What better way to brighten up this dull Monday than with a plethora of house plants for this week’s moodboard?
Last week I noticed that the first 17 pictures (I know I counted them) from the people I follow on instagram were of house plants. These images particularly showed off the gorgeous greenery against cream, light grey or blush pink walls. Why not? Lush green leaves are a thing of beauty both indoors and out so I’m all for the botanical house plant trend and for bringing nature’s beauty into every aspect of our lives – even our bathrooms.
I’m even cultivating some monstera plants of my own with varying degrees of success; here’s my efforts so far…
True to form I’m turning this current obsession into illustration too with Monstera watercolours on a blush pink background selling as prints on Not On The High Street, Etsy and Folksy.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This sounds terrible but I am rubbish at Mother’s Day. I love my mum but the day always lands between my birthday and my dad’s so it always gets a bit lost – not good considering. If you’re like me and always leave it to the last minute to sort something out then here are two quick and easy handmade craft solutions that you can whip up to suit your mum’s style in time for the day. For my upcycled jewellery dishes, I found a set of plain ceramic hearts and got to work on them three ways. You could do these on any ceramic surface, in fact these designs would all look lovely on a plain white saucer or little bowl. The first one is a simple black on white floral drawing using a thin black posca pen. This will really suit my mum. Like me, she is a very keen drawer, she also loves simple, elegant lines and an expressive touch, so this is perfect for her. I then used some paints to create a more contemporary version for the modern mater. I’m a bit in love with this combination of soft peach with dark grey. I masked off the areas I wanted to paint with very think strips of masking tape then filled in the edges once the large areas were dry. I then added white outlines for further contrast. I tried marbling with nail varnish on the last two. I like this combination of mauve and pink. It almost makes the white ceramic look a bit creamy, which I love. Mind you this was a messy process. You tip the varnish in a tub of water and muddle it with a skewer, you then dip your ceramics in. It smells and gets everywhere so I suggest a big tub and clear area to work in and some rubber gloves! My second make is really easy, mess free and is the ultimate easy upcycle. As you may have noticed the shops and style guides are full of botanical motifs. So I grabed a plain white pot, little black perspex off-cut (they are bloody handy little things and make great coasters) and a green posca pen and got drawing. This tropical leaf design is so easy to do; you just draw a thin curved line then create thicker curved shapes along it. Simple but effective. Again this design can work on any shaped mug, coaster or plate and makes a nice little on-trend gift for a green-fingered mum.
My drawing this week is that of a cormorant. When I do my little morning walk along the Wivenhoe quayside I often see these pre-historic looking birds with their wings out stretched soaking up the sun or in a little group looking like they are waiting for a bus. When the tide is up they often bob about in the water on the hunt for fish. I love them so I wanted to capture these creatures in watercolour and ink.
If you want to catch a glimpse of these sleek guys, you can find them around the UK coastline on rocky shores, coastal lagoons and estuaries. You may also catch them at reservoirs, lakes and gravel pits.
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.
I really enjoyed doing this drawing of the week, my sanguine looking cockatoo. I’ve drawn it as part of series of bird portrait works to be exhibited later this year.
Now I know this black cockatoo is rather purple in his hue but I wanted to reflect the luxurious, deep and rich nature of his plumage. Very few dark shades are just black, they almost always have a base of purple, green or blue at their core.
As usual I created the illustration in watercolour and fine pin ink pen but this time I used a posca white pen to create the little dots on my boy’s feathers.