This is essentially a sneak peek into some of the bird portraits I’ll be exhibiting in my local book indie bookshop, Wivenhoe Books. It’s an intimate little space and is perfect for giving some of my smaller illustrations a gentle showcase. The size of this piece is A5 so it will work well in a more compact hanging area.
Peacocks are becoming my new favourite thing to draw. I’ve been doing lots of sketches of peacock feathers but I thought for the show I’d give a ‘head and shoulders’ watercolour and ink portrait a go. I’m rather pleased with the result and am particularly taken with the plumage.
To state the blindingly obvious, the peacock is the male bird; the female is known as a peahen and she doesn’t have the snazzy tail. The reason I say this is that I once (this is a while back mind) searched for hours for female peacock and obviously came up with zilch.
This Monday’s Moodboard introduces you to my new obsession… Insects!
Just as with the shells last week, this moodboard shows you that my drawing interests are moving towards more organic, smaller forms, exploring their structure and beauty.
As you can see I’m not the first artist to be inspired by these creatures. These vintage anatomical illustrations will inspire my own work and I hope to capture the iconic shapes of these little critters as well as their intricate detail.
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…
In a follow on from last week this Monday’s Moodboard is of sea shells.
I promise I’m not obsessed with seaside themes at the mo! I am however obsessed with the structure of natural, organic forms.
This theme has been on the back-burner for me for a while now and I think finally this year will be the year when I tackle this nautical theme that has been so loved by photographers and such an enduring subject in vintage illustrations.
My drawing this week is that of a cormorant. When I do my little morning walk along the Wivenhoe quayside I often see these pre-historic looking birds with their wings out stretched soaking up the sun or in a little group looking like they are waiting for a bus. When the tide is up they often bob about in the water on the hunt for fish. I love them so I wanted to capture these creatures in watercolour and ink.
If you want to catch a glimpse of these sleek guys, you can find them around the UK coastline on rocky shores, coastal lagoons and estuaries. You may also catch them at reservoirs, lakes and gravel pits.
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.
Ah dots and splodges, my old friends. It’s only right I dedicate a Monday Moodboard to these guys as they are really essential to my creative process.
Whenever I’m in a bit of a rut illustration wise but need to get my drawing head on I make marks with dots and splodges. It helps me explore what patterns to create and allows me to enjoy the medium of whatever I’m working in, be it watercolour, ink or felt pen.
But they’re not just a cool way to play with mark-making; as you can see by the above they are incredibly effective in creating patterns and compositions. I personally can’t resist the combination of black with white, pink and apricot shades.
By the way I need to do a big shout out to Ashley Goldberg as two of her designs are featured here. I LOVE her work to pieces. Check it out here.
These easy-draw Valentine’s makes are perfect if you like your love tokens handmade. So why not give these illustrations a try in time for the big day on Tuesday?
I’ve got lots of posca pens from my workshops last year so grabbed an old white plate and some slate heart-shaped table mats and decided to give them a love-themed drawing update. And with my templates and how-tos you can do them to…
Download the Flamingo template below and take a look at what I did with my outline drawing on this video above.
Or if monotone line drawing is more your bag then follow this cute little demo movie. You don’t need slate, you could work this on any dark surface.
Today’s Monday Moodboard is a homage to my teenage self. I was obsessed with seed heads when I was doing my A-Levels and after looking at this collection of images I can see why.
In fact I’m tempted to revisit this as a theme for my illustrations. They are structural, almost architectural in their form and the faded colours would look amazing in watercolour. I’ve got loads of dried allium and poppy heads displayed through out my home (see below) so I may have a little bash drawing at some still lives in ink I think the medium would work with its wild, ragged nature – I’ll keep you posted.
This is the shop for Ella Johnston. Here you can buy original artwork, prints, stationery and homewares from my archive. Dismiss