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Drawing of the week, Stone Curlew

Stone Curlew illustration (c) Ella Johnston

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.

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Drawing of the week: Happy yellow budgie

Yellow Budgie Illustration (c) Ella Johnston

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.

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Drawing of the week: Eucalyptus

Eucalyptus illustration (c) Ella Johnston

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.

 

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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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Drawing of the week: Rooster

Rooster drawing/illustration (c) Ella Johnston

We recently welcomed the new luna (or is it lunar?) year of the rooster so it’s only fitting it’s this week’s drawing of the week.

As much as I like a brown or black bird illustration, the bird I’ve drawn here is a Brown Leghorn rooster, which I have chosen purely for his plumage. When I got out my watercolour paints to illustrate this fella I knew warm orange, purple and emerald hues would be the order of the day. I really wanted to go to town on the colours for this guy as I think the rooster (also known as a cockerel or cock) is such a glorious creature  – I really admire them as they pace around the chicken pen.

As well as being the symbol for my football team, the cockerel is also a scared animal in some cultures, with the rooster being associated with the sun goddess Amaterasu, in fact Zoroastrianism held the rooster as a “symbol of light” and associated the cock with “good against evil” due to its heraldic actions. So all praise for the mighty rooster!

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Drawing of the week: Orange tip butterfly

Orange tip butterfly illustration (c) Ella Johnston

This week’s drawing of the week is a Orange tip butterfly.

After all that Christmas stuff I’m now working on illustrations for next year and I’m going to make an illustrated guide to butterflies. This is the first of many butterfly drawings.

The latin name for these creatures is Anthocharis cardamines and you can find them in damp pastures and meadows, damp woodland edges and glades, riverbanks, ditches, dykes, fens, railway cuttings and country lanes.

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Drawing of the week: Bear

Bear Illustration by Ella Johnston

This week’s drawing is of a bear. I’m exploring zoo animals at the moment and I’ve developed quite a stash of sketches of zoo creatures so I wanted to share this quickly made illustration with you.

As usual this drawing is created with watercolour and fine-nibbed pen. I wanted this to be gestural and light in contrast with the animal’s large, imposing structure.

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Drawing of the week: red squirrel

squirrel illustration by Ella Johnston

I’m in an autumnal mood now so I wanted to give you a drawing this week that reflected that, a lovely red squirrel, resplendent in his seasonal coat.

Don’t get me wrong, I like a grey squirrel (I don’t subscribe to the ‘rats with good PR’ school) but nothing beats a stunning red creature. They really capture autumn for me so I wanted a woodland classic for my illustration.

As usual I whipped up this fella using watercolour and ink, I wanted this to be quick and gestural like I was just catching him while he was away gathering his nuts.

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Drawing of the week: A Pigeon

Pigeon
Good friends of mine will be very surprised by my drawing of the week as I have a pigeon phobia.

I grew up in London so while spiders and mice hold no fear for me it’s pigeons that make me feel ill, yet I love birds.

Anyway I decided to face my fear with watercolour, ink and my powers of illustration. I do like this fell’s beautiful plumage and it does have a rather elegant shape and line. Who knows after drawing this maybe I’ll be able to sit outside in London while they mill about my feet.

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Drawing of the week: Watercolour feathers

Feather illustration Ella Johnston

I’m doing a mini exhibition this week and, as always, I try to do something fresh and new for it so I created these watercolour feathers that I’m going to produce prints from.

Made with watercolour and ink these illustrations were inspired by vintage drawings and posters I’ve kept colours very, very simple using, golden tones, navies and purples as well as my trademark black.

Feather illustration Ella Johnston