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Think Pink! Think Flamingo

Flamingo Print by Ella Johnston

I have a couple of friends who are obsessed with flamingos, so I’m a little surprised myself that I’ve only just started to produce a flamingo print and stationery collection.

Flamingo Print by Ella Johnston

Here are some of the prints already available on my online shops on Folksy, Etsy and Not On the High Street. There will also be a writing set with cards coming along later in the year.

Flamingo Pair Print. Ella Johnston

You can order personalised versions of the flamingo pair at my Not On the High Street shop.
Flamingo Love Print Ella Johnston

The drawings themselves were created by layering lots of shades of pink, peach and orange watercolour and then working the detail with my ink felt-tip pens.

Flamingo Print by Ella Johnston

Flamingo Print Ella Johnston

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Bird of the fortnight 9/05/16: Spotted Flycatcher

Spotted Flycatcher black and white sketch. Ella Johnston. Bird of the Fortnight
If you’re ever in a churchyard or park and a little silvery grey/brown bird flits past you and you could swear it isn’t a sparrow, chances are you’ve spied a spotted flycatcher.

Spotted Flycatcher black and white sketch. Ella Johnston. Bird of the Fortnight

Spotted flycatchers may look a bit dull but they are charming to watch. But don’t be fooled. These little fellas are trained killers they fly from a high perch and burst into flight to catch a flying insect. They then flit back to the same spot to devour their prey.

Spotted Flycatcher black and white sketch. Ella Johnston. Bird of the Fortnight

They don’t look flashy, in fact they are fairly scruffy which made drawing my black and white sketches all the more fun. Let’s see if my worked up watercolour version will be as fun.

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Finished Plant of the Fortnight, Watercolour Magnolia

Watercolour and ink magnolia (c) Ella Johnston

Here is my finished magnolia illustration – my plant of the fortnight.

A magnolia tree heralds in warmer, sunnier days. The elegant blooms and glossy, simply shaped leaves are often featured in floral pattern designs.  It’s not difficult to see why, as the above shows.

This watercolour and ink drawing was a pleasure to create, the regular shape and ornate petals are beautifully decorative yet the entire structure of the plant gives every flower balance and harmony.

Look out for my sweetpea sketches in a fortnights’ time.

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Plant of the Fortnight 2/05/16: Magnolia

Magnolia black and white sketch. Ella Johnston. Plant of the Fortnight I bloody loves a magnolia I do. The exquisitely delicate blooms, the shiney dark green leaves, they are simply beautiful. Pink or white I look forward to their arrival, their presence sings spring and they are just so darn pretty.
Magnolia black and white sketch. Ella Johnston. Plant of the Fortnight

A couple of weeks ago I was walking through our local streets that were littered with magnolia petals. I was sad that they won’t come around until next year so I wanted to draw them to keep them alive as it were.

Magnolia black and white sketch. Ella Johnston. Plant of the Fortnight
These black and white sketches took minutes to create – the shape of these flowers and leaves are so simple and iconic and can be captured in a mere matter of lines. So quick and easy.

I’m really looking forward to creating some delicate watercolour pieces celebrating this plant. Check in this Friday to see the results.

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Discover lost art of letter writing

writing a letter So when was the last time you wrote a letter or indeed sent out anything handwritten that wasn’t a birthday or Christmas card?

It’s alright. I’m not berating you – it wasn’t really until I started producing my own stationery that I began to think about the lost art of letter writing.

Although I’m at an age when we used to write letters as teenagers (and I still have Dr B’s letters to me from our very, very early days), in the age of email, twitter, facebook, snapchat and a load of other ways of connecting, the letter seems so quaint and old fashioned. You can dash off a message in minutes now, safe in the knowledge that your recipient will get it straight away and probably respond in quick time too. And you can Skype too – I bloody love Skyping!


Be bold be brave Ella Johnston

While the joy of contacting people (friends, family, famous people) spontaneously and immediately is a wonderful, wonderful thing there is something to be said for the letter and a handwritten message. Let me give you a recent example…

Ella Johnston Handwriting

When I left my job at the end of last year I had some beautiful emails and tweets from people I’d worked with that I was really touched by. As well as my big leaving card I also received three handwritten notes. Last week, while having a bit of a drawer declutter I came across the trio and reread them, I felt the love all over again while not really looking for it. The physicality of the messages made the sentiments expressed permanent and real, months after the event.

This sense of permanence is very special. We take selfies and write blogs to mark points in our lives nowadays but letters have been doing this for centuries. You only have to visit the website Letters of Note to see this for yourself.

Loving Budgies Stationery Set

Now Letters of Note comes with a warning – visit it and you will lose HOURS. I discovered the site some years ago and it is a treasure trove of correspondence that will make you laugh, cry, think, get angry and marvel at the beauty of the human spirit. It is my one of my favourite things on the internet.

Choice picks include author John Steinbeck advising his young son on love, Bertrand Russell elegantly refuting Oswald Moseley, Iggy Pop giving a fan going through a tough time some encouragement the fab battle of the bitches spat and George Harrison providing tips on how to wash a car.

After reading these letters and many more (honestly I could spend all day on that site), you see how wonderful a hand-scribed or typed missive is. It becomes an artefact, a physical record of a moment in time (you’ll see the writing, the typewriter ink and the paper it’s on – it’s all amazingly evocative). It was getting into Letters of Note that made me design writing sets for people to give their letters a bit of panache. I mean, if it is going to be around for a long time, you want it on nice paper don’t you?

This is a truly analogue medium in a digital age. But the humble letter or handwritten note is one that speaks to our hearts, shows someone you’ve taken some time and given them some thought. For the price of some paper or card, an envelope and stamp you can give someone a item to treasure and love for years, one that may outlive you both.

Ella Johnston Stationery collection (c) Ella Johnston