My first post of 2018, sorry it’s taken me so long. Although I’ve been quiet on the blog front I’ve been busy everywhere else; undertaking illustration commissions, preparing for up-coming exhibitions, making craft how-to videos, growing my print and stationery business, continuing my work with Uni-ball and Dannells and working on an exciting new publication for Dunlin Press. I’ve been working like a beast.
The break has actually been a good thing as it’s given me some space to think about Ella’s Place. From the very start I wanted this to provide a genuine insights into a creative life; my work in progress, they way I work, what inspires me, what I do, my processes, plus my passions and penchants. A step away from the blog has made me think about the best ways I can get back to that original concept.
So many blogs are product focused and I do want to show you stuff that I like and things that make me go ‘ooh’. But I don’t want to simply do product placements – I want to inspire you, make you smile, let you know what I am up to and hopefully give you some practical tips, advice and insights into illustration, craft, up-cycling, veggie food, mindfulness and living an all-round fun, balanced, creative, happy life. I’m working on it.
More National Stationery Week (#natstatweek) joy from me today. I thought I’d share my love of postcards.
This passion for postcards has been going on for some time. I bought my first set (Vincent Van Gough’s Sunflowers, Picasso’s Fruit Dish, Bottle and Violin, Henry Rousseau’s Surprised and Monet’s Water-lily pond if you’re interested) when I went to the National Gallery with my dad when I was about nine.
I’ve been collecting postcards in earnest ever since I was a teenager when I used to gather loads from the Tate (it was just the one in London then) and the National galleries when doing my art project research. I obsessively collected and displayed black and white portrait postcards of pop stars, movie icons and various writers, artist and bohemians through history in my bedroom at home. Then I used postcards, gig flyers and magazine pages to decorate every student flat I lived in (and some that I didn’t). Even when Dr B and I had our first tiny studio flat, we went up-market and put them in those ubiquitous Ikea wooden frames.
Because I’m such a massive fan of these wonderful mini art objects I now make a lot myself. The one above and the four pictured below are ones I’ve created to promote our small publishing company Dunlin Press. A free handwritten postcard gets sent out with every book order. This was inspired by the amount of lovely handwritten postcards we’ve found over the years hidden in the pages of hundreds (and I really do mean hundreds) of second-hand books we’ve bought. Some are really charming and tell stories in themselves. I’m also very, very fond of sending out postcard with my print and stationery orders to say thank you and I’m a bit partial to sending little motivational messages such as the ones from the Calm Gallerybelow to friends. I now sell illustrated postcards. In the spirit of those portraits that adorned my adolescent bedroom I’ve done them in the style of hand-drawn bird portraits. You can buy a set of nine here. I’m astonished that the obsessions of my younger years come to inspire me even now, there are times I feel closer to my early teenage self than to the woman in my twenties or thirties.
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.
I’m very excited to announce the launch of my new personalised wedding stationery collections on Not On The High Street. Inspired by botanical and avian vintage illustration, I hope my collections offer something special for every couple wanting to make their celebration sing.
The intricately drawn illustrations in these collections are created with vibrant washes of watercolour and ink. All are printed in the UK on high-quality FSC-certificated textured gesso card. Every piece of stationery can be personalised to the client’s specification.
Pink Flamingo Collection
Bold, bright and beautiful, this pair of cheeky, loved-up pink flamingos are sure to put a smile on people’s faces. The Flamingo range is perfect for fun loving couples and those who are aiming to bring a tropical flavour to their day.
Elegant and soft, my graceful watercolour eucalyptus motif gives this range a timeless, tasteful quality. It is the ideal collection for those looking to create a gentle, relaxed feel to their nuptials.
Fresh and delicate, the Fern collection hopes to recall the style of vintage botanical illustrations while still giving the stationery a contemporary twist. Great for the pair who want a strong, yet simple theme for their big event.
For those who want something really romantic and trad, here’s my Swan range. Swans mate for life so this is ideal…
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…
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.
Happy New Year! Yes I know I’m a bit late, I started 2017 with a ton of commissions so I’ve been rather busy this past three weeks.
So 2017 has started really well for me – I hope it’s the same for you.
After a nice bit of satisfyingly new work to get to grips with I can now settle into working on drawings for new prints, gifts and stationery.
I’ve read a lot of trend reports saying feathers are going to be big motifs over the next couple of years. Which is very handy for me as I’ve been working on feather illustrations on prints for some time now one of which you can see in the bottom right hand corner of this board.
As you know I’ve been blogging a lot about stationery this week for National Stationery Week. It’s really got me thinking about my own work over the years. Shown above are my illustrated greetings cards, handprinted notelets and tags, plus a 40-page notebook.
My ranges so far have consisted of detailed illustrative motifs and individually handprinted pieces. Whatever style I plump for at a particular time it’s important to me that my stationery offers something that you can only get from me.
So the handmade, handcrafted, hand-drawn element is essential to every collection I create. All the time I’ve been creating stationery I’ve put a little bit of myself in every collection. I really want each piece to be made with love.
I love letter writing and I like sending friends and colleagues little notes and cards.
Handwritten messages are a wonderful thing. It’s a real delight to receive a handwritten letter or card, so much better than a text or an email. Plus you can keep a handwritten piece – I store my favourites in a little box and if they’re particularly lovely, I display them on my kitchen pin-board.
That’s why I like to make stationery that is really special – one you can send yourself or give as gifts to others. For this handprinted collection, I’ve drawn and carved out a leaf design on a rubber block then used rich pigment ink to colour it. I’ve then stamped the motifs over quality card and paper to create a stationery set that is unique every time. Just like a piece of handwriting.
I currently have two products using this technique – a stationery box set and a notecard box set.
The stationery set has ten leaves of A5 size handprinted writing paper, five A6 handprinted postcards, 15 handprinted envelopes and ten recycled handprinted paper gift tags.
The notecard box contains ten leaf postcards, five in orange, five in blue.