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Drawing of the week: Hydrangea flower

Hydrangea Illustration Ella Johnston

My drawing of the week is of a bright pink hydrangea. This watercolour and ink illustration is taken from our garden as they are in full bloom at the moment for the summer.

A hydrangea is my favourite flower and this one in our garden made the journey from our little balcony in London all the way to Wiv, so I’m particularly fond of our growing, flourishing little plant.

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Monday Moodboard: Arts and Crafts

Monday Moodboard Arts & Crafts

The first artist I ever got into was William Morris, so it’s been real fun putting my Arts and Crafts Monday Moodboard together.

William Morris is the father of the Arts and Crafts movement and a true hero of mine. The following three quotes are really important to me and match my personal philosophy…

“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”

“The true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life.”

“I do not want art for a few any more than education for a few, or freedom for a few.”

Wonderfully the 2017 trend reports predict the designs of the Art and Crafts movement to be a key influence in new designs. I can’t wait to see this and see if the look will affect my own work. I must admit the flowing, ornate lines, delicate florals, gorgeous leaf motifs and pattern repeats have been gently guiding me throughout my illustration journey.

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How to change a plain notebook into a personalised gift

Monogramed Notebooks with Posca Pens a plain notebook into a personalised gift with my easy how-to.
Monogramed Notebooks with Posca Pens It’s more Posca pen stuff from me this week as I warm up for some workshops I’m doing for the company in September. I really want to get the workshops right. Monogramed Notebooks with Posca Pens  you know I like to make personalised gifts and I currently know three people are doing some quite daunting things… Gearing to go back to work after maternity leave, going back to college (scary) and embarking on an exciting new creative project, I thought a personalised notebook would make a great little gift for these three special individuals. Monogramed Notebooks with Posca Pens This is a really simple illustration project but makes for a very effective and professional looking present. All I did was take a three-pack of Moleskine mini cahiers, got out some sumptuously coloured Poscas and went for it.
Monogramed Notebooks with Posca Pens You can see how I created the laurel leaf motif by watching a tutorial I did for Posca pens earlier this year.

As you can see the drawing techniques are really easy and the pens are very nice to use. The initial on the books are quite ornate compared to the formal lettering illustrated on the wooden coasters. Depending on how confident you are, you can decided which style to go for.
Monogramed Notebooks with Posca Pens Because the pens produce a paint-like effect even light colours can look clear and vivid on the book’s brown craft card covers. Monogramed Notebooks with Posca Pens Just by using simple illustration techniques you can create an ornate, sophisticated looking gift, personalised for a special person. Monogramed Notebooks with Posca Pens Monogramed Notebooks with Posca Pens

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Drawing of the week: A FOX!

Fox portrait drawing by Ella Johnston
I promised you a fox for drawing of the week last time so a drawing of a fox you shall have.

I drew this guy while at my parents-in-law’s place in Cumbria so I think he’s got a bit of a country air about him. My fox in this illustration is  full and luscious of fur and features and his coat is remarkably vivid and splendid (I went a bit crazy on the watercolour). He is quite unlike the real skinny, scratty city foxes we used to see when coming home from a night out in London. I think this one dines off farmyard chickens and wild rabbit where as our ones would forage in dustbins and market places looking for scraps.


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Monday Moodboard: Penguin book design

Penguin Book Design Penguin book design has been an obsession of mine since I was a teenager when I spent an awful lot of time in libraries. Probably too much time if I’m being honest.

In those days I was continually on the hunt for new words, stories and worlds, I used to get lots of books out on spec. I read a lot of duds but I also came across a lot of good stuff too that has stayed with me.

The cover design played a very big part in my decision making process. From the classic orange cover fiction and stylish mid-century illustration to the glorious repeat patterns, it is all the stuff of wonder and as much of an inspiration as the words inside. As a consequence of this I read a lot of books published by Penguin; a great deal of classics and quite a few poetry collections. I’ve now bought a lot of the books that I borrowed and devoured during my teenage years (the ones I enjoyed at least).

As Creative Director of an indie publisher, I design all the books for Dunlin Press. So my youthful interest has become increasingly important now I’m a grown-up. When approaching the layout for each Dunlin Press book I always ask myself, “What would the Penguin designers do?”



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DIY: Ornate cases

Ornate cases I’m not gonna lie, these ornate cases took ages to create but they are quite a cool DIY. I have had a brief from the guys at Uni-Ball to create a selection of products updated with the company’s pens. I wanted to make a number of items at various sizes and using the wide range of pens they had on offer.
Ornate cases also wanted an excuse to play with an ornate pattern idea I’ve had for a while. Because Uni-Ball’s Posca pens have a wide range of colours and shades I thought they would perfectly lend themselves to a pattern that utilised various shades of the same hue.
Ornate cases have looked through loads of tile designs to come up with the ones I have worked out here.
Ornate cases cases were plain brown mdf boxes. I traced on my design before filling in the light colours then layering with darker shades.
Ornate cases
Ornate cases
Ornate cases

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Drawing of the week: Fox Terrier

Fox Terrier
My drawing of the week is of a dog – a lovely fox terrier.

I drew this by accident. I was actually going to draw a fox (and I will next week) but I came across this breed of dog while image researching and remembered how much I like them. So I thought I may as well draw this little fella.

A little bit about a fox terrier…
Wire fox terriers (as seen here in my watercolour and ink illustration) are known for their energy and intelligence. They have a low boredom threshold (like me and Dr B)  and require stimulation, exercise (I should do more of that) and attention (we all need that).  They are bred to be independent thinkers (I really like that).

Now, all that remains is for me to try and persuade Dr B that we need one as a pet in our lives.


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7 Strong AW16 Home Looks

AW16 Looks
Summer is nearly done (yes, sorry to let you know about that one) and I’m looking forward to refreshing JB towers with some new looks for AW16.

I’m very excited about this season – there are so many looks I love that can be enjoyed and adapted to suit your style. There are seven really strong themes that would work well in any kind of interior, large or small, grand or modest.

Colour pop fun

Colour pop fun AW16
From Very

I can’t resist a pop in colour in my rooms. You can go bold with a Memphis-inspired scheme like the one from Very above or you can simply add colour accents to a more restrained room with accessories. How about some bright crockery or a statement lamp or piece of brightly coloured furniture.

Colour pop fun AW16
From Very
From Cuckooland
From Cuckooland

Lush and plush

Lush and plush AW16
From House of Fraser

We all love a bit of luxe; gorgeous fabrics and textures that are tactile, soft and warm that make us feel warm and snuggly while still retaining a sense of style and opulence. Key colours are navy, purple and turquoise and beautiful metallic touches. Oh, and don’t forget a bit of greenery!

Lush and Plush AW16
From Debenhams

Understated luxury

Understated luxury AW16
From Sainsbury’s

This look reminds of years ago when, in another life I think, as production editor on Restaurant Magazine I went on my first press trip. It was to the Martel Chateaux in Bordeaux and it was really quite something. Woven carpets and tapestries, distressed wooden panels and floors. Studded sofas, elegant candelabra and pretty chandeliers – the whole place was just divine and now is rather easy to evoke with a few high street buys.

Understated luxury AW16
From Sainsburys’
From Marks & Spencer
From Marks & Spencer

Quirky classics

Quirky classic
From Marks and Spencer

If you’ve had a look at my menagerie pages you’ll know I love a home with a sense of humour and a touch of the unexpected. So I’m pleased to see accessories from so many leading retailers that make you smile this year.  I’m particularly taken with this vase from Marks and Spencer.

From George at ASDA
From George at ASDA

Cool and clean

Simple elegance AW16
From Dunelm

A calm colour scheme and  well chosen, minimal accessorising can be a really rather wonderful thing. Its certainly something I like in a bedroom and this was definitely my approach when I lived in a small flat. There are so many collections available in terms of furniture and accessories that you can co-ordinate to get this grown-up look.

Simple elegance AW16
From Next
From Debenhams
From Debenhams

Cosy eclectic

Cosy eclectic AW16
From Homesense

As a former editor of craft mags I’m always drawn to a mismatched style that showcases knitting, crochet, patchwork, weaving and a nice bit of trimming. Check out this room scene from Homesense – it’s colourful and cosy sure but it also has such a cohesive style, it’s just so inviting.

Woodland wonders

Woodland wonders AW16
From George at Asda

No autumn round up would be complete without this season’s take on nordic and woodland. I think these ceramics and ornaments from George are really cool; contemporary and fun.

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Monday Moodboard: Black and white

Black and white moodboard, classy and striking, I love black and white designs. In fact I can’t believe I haven’t featured this on my moodboard sooner.

I hardly ever wear anything other than black and white clothes (occasionally navy or grey but it’s mainly black and white). I also am a massive fan of simple black and white sketches, print and design. The purity, harmony and general all-round elegance is, for me, a total short-cut to cool.

At the moment I’m working on the design for a poetry book. The publication is printed in black and white so I wanted to think of effective shapes and marks that would look strong on the pages without distracting from the words (which are the most important thing). I’ve done lots of research and have settled on something that I’m quite excited about. You can’t see it yet but the book is set to be released later this year so, watch this space.


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Drawing of the week: Hare

Hare illustration (c) Ella Johnston’s my drawing of the week – a lovely wild hare.

I mentioned last week that I’m branching out with my drawing and illustration, challenging myself to do new things so… Here. Hare. Here*.

As usual this earnest looking little fella was created using watercolour and fine-nibbed felt tip pen. I really enjoyed doing his whiskers and eyebrows – a fun bit of mark-making if ever there was.

* With apologies to Bruce Robinson.