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Drawing of the week: cockatoo

Cockatoo illustration (c) Ella Johnston

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.

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Monday Moodboard: Luxe Florals

Monday Moodboard Luxe Florals

Luxe florals are just the right thing for this time of year, which is why today they have made my Monday Moodboard.

The freezing, wet weather and grey skies are atmospheric sure but the damp and cold can be a little draining day after day (last nights evening walk was a very muddy affair). So I’m warming myself with, and getting creative inspiration from, rich purples, velvety blacks, deep maroons and cerise tones as seen in beautiful, frilly flowers. I’ll be working on some sketches of these in the coming weeks with a view to working up pretty patterns and evocative illustrations.

 

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Drawing of the week: Pelican

Pelican drawing by Ella JohnstonMy drawing of the week this week is of a pelican.

As a prolific drawer of birds, I’ve always wanted to draw a pelican. I like the long beak/bill (with that funky pouch) and squat body; they appear to me as both elegant and bulky at the same time.

This illustration was created with blue and orange shades of watercolour and black uni-ball pin pens. He looks quite stern here but I’m sure this guy is quite friendly when you get to know him.

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Drawing of the week: A rainbow unicorn!

Unicorn Print Ella Johnston. Available on Not On The High Street.

I know. Me? A rainbow unicorn? Drawing of the week? Yes, yes and yes.

The unicorn is a very special drawing for me as it meant doing something out of my comfort zone and taking a bold step.

Last month I visited the Not On The High Street partner day – it’s a great event for all the sellers on the site to come together learn from each other while also getting insights and advice from the NOTHS team. One of the services they offered was a clinic looking at my shop and evaluating all my products. To be honest this was a big deal for me – after creating the illustration, designing the products, shooting them, writing the products and marketing them, sometimes criticism, however useful, constructive and helpful, can be hard to take. But I have resolved this year to take the advice, learn from any criticism and act on it and most of all not to take things personally. So I made use of this years clinic for my shop.

Actually I received very little criticism. I was on trend, my products and photography were really good and I got the word ‘beautiful’ a lot (always good). I just needed to work on my SEO and put some of my products into a more lifestyle setting. After all that stealing myself it was one of the most positive experiences I’ve ever had.

Unicorn Print Ella Johnston. Available on Not On The High Street. God, this is getting to be a long story, sorry.

Anyway I asked the women running the clinic if there was anything I could do to improve my offering, anything my style could be suited too, anything new I could try. “A unicorn” they said, “Create a range with a unicorn.”

Okay.

But I don’t do girly stuff. I don’t do fanciful stuff.

Why don’t I?

Why don’t I try something I’ve not explored before?

So I set about answering this brief. I wanted to do it with enthusiasm, integrity, honesty and love, like I do with all of my illustrations. After lots of visual research, I got really excited about this new challenge and set myself seven days to create the illo then get it onto a print and get it into the shop.

I picked up my watercolour paints and fine nib black pens and went to work. Dr B was quite surprised, he envisaged a mythical, goth type creation instead he got a handsome steed with a rainbow mane – a girly unicorn!

Unicorn Print Ella Johnston. Available on Not On The High Street. So here is the unicorn print. I’m immensely proud of it as it represents more than a drawing but is a symbol of my journey as an illustrator and as a person, leaping into the unknown and trying something new. I’m hanging this bad boy in my office now to show me why it’s so important to keep striving. You can buy my print on Not On The High Street. 
Unicorn Print Ella Johnston. Available on Not On The High Street.

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Drawing of the week: Retro flowers

Retro Flowers Ella Johnston

What inspired my retro flower drawings of the week I hear you ask? Well, a couple of weeks ago I was looking at moody botanics and loved the idea of beautiful blooms set against deep dark backgrounds. This also coincided with me becoming obsessed with vintage floral duvet cover designs. And I’m not talking about those pretty ditzy Cath Kidston inspired numbers, no I’m thinking of the type of things I had as a small child in the early 1980s (that were practically 1970s).

MoodyBot_2_20

So I’d thought I’d combine the two themes and create this set of retro floral illustrations and pattern design. I think these would look great on home project and I’m thinking of using them on some cushions and lampshades for a real cosy feel in the bedroom – a little nod to the bedrooms of my childhood.

Retro Flowers Ella Johnston

The flowers I’ve illustrated here are ranunculus, dahlia, peony, rose, hydrangea, anemone, rose and succulent, I deliberately choose round shapes that fit together nicely in a kind of clockwork fashion.

Retro Flowers Ella Johnston

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Drawing of the week: Blue Jay Bird

Blue Jay Watercolour Drawing Ella JohnstonMy drawing of the week, a blue jay bird, is inspired by nature and by a song. We have regular jays in our local woods and I’m always trying to spot them on my walks.
Blue Jay Black and White Blue Jay Drawing Ella Johnston

Anyway one revealed himself to me last week, where, weirdly I had the Beatles song Blue Jay Way in my head for the rest of the day. So I fancied doing a watercolour and ink illustration of the regular jay’s North American cousin.

Blue Jay Black and White Blue Jay Drawing Ella Johnston

In old African American folklore of the southern United States, the blue jay was held to be a servant of the Devil. I think my one is harbinger of joy.

The blue jay’s colouration is not derived from pigments but is the result of light interference due to the internal structure of the feathers; if a blue feather is crushed, the colour disappears, this is known as structural colouration.

Blue Jay Black and White Blue Jay Drawing Ella Johnston