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.
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.
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 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.
In honour of this week’s Crufts 2017, my drawing of the week is of an American Cocker Spaniel.
This quick little doggie sketch was created in watercolour and brown ink. It didn’t take very long to do but I am quite pleased with the illustration. I think this animal has a certain stoic, noble quality.
I will not lie to you, I love a Cocker Spaniel – they could be my favourite breed. I love the character of a spaniel – so friendly, energetic and full of life.
I am a massive fan of all shaggy haired dogs generally. This my friends is because I was/am an indie kid of the early nineties variety and have a great affection for long-haired, scruffy herberts.
Just look my dog’s refined face. It takes me back to 1993 when Richard Ashcroft was not Richard Ashcroft as he is now but was instead known as “Mad Richard” and The Verve was known as just Verve. Ah those heady days of youth… long haired boys in terrible jeans – it was a tremendous amount of fun.
I 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. My 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.
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.
Ah dots and splodges, my old friends. It’s only right I dedicate a Monday Moodboard to these guys as they are really essential to my creative process.
Whenever I’m in a bit of a rut illustration wise but need to get my drawing head on I make marks with dots and splodges. It helps me explore what patterns to create and allows me to enjoy the medium of whatever I’m working in, be it watercolour, ink or felt pen.
But they’re not just a cool way to play with mark-making; as you can see by the above they are incredibly effective in creating patterns and compositions. I personally can’t resist the combination of black with white, pink and apricot shades.
By the way I need to do a big shout out to Ashley Goldberg as two of her designs are featured here. I LOVE her work to pieces. Check it out here.
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.