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Finished Plant of the Fortnight: Iris

Iris, watercolour and ink (c) Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk

I’m really pleased with my finished plant of the fortnight illustration. I love the way the layers of watercolour have captured the deep blue and purple tones of the iris flower. I’m also happy with how the different nib weights of my felt-tip drawing pens add texture and structure to the petals, stem and leaves.

We’re attempting to grow irises in our garden this year. Regular Ella’s Place readers will know that my garden can be a be of a diva, only growing the things she likes. The garden is lovely as occasionally we agree but I wouldn’t mind her doing me a favour this spring/summer. I’ll let you know if the irises appear and if they look nice I’ll post photos.

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Plant of the Fortnight: Iris

Iris Sketch Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk

Ever since I was a kid my go-to drawing would be an iris, so I almost resisted the temptation to make it plant of the fortnight. However, through simply playing with these three black and white sketches, I know why I’m obsessed with this flower. They are so ornate and structural and kinda weird at the same time. In colour they are incredible, so drop by on Friday to see my final watercolour version.

Iris Sketch Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk

Iris Sketch Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk

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DIY: Update a wooden box

Customised pencil box Posca Pens ellasplace.co.uk

I’ve had this little wooden box for years. It was plain and unloved for ages. I kept pencils in it and every time I retrieved them I thought “I should really do something with this” and then I’d leave it.

Customised pencil box Posca Pens ellasplace.co.uk

Then a couple of weeks ago I was asked if I wanted to do some projects with Uni-ball the makers of Posca pens. Before I started on the projects I thought it best to re-familiarise myself with them and have a little practice. The pens work on a range of surfaces, so after I used them on a set of notebooks I thought I’d give them a try by drawing on that plain old wooden box.
Customised pencil box Posca Pens ellasplace.co.uk

First I painted the box to give it an even white background. Then I used my wood anemone sketch as a basis for my hand-drawn box design. I wanted to make it look quite retro so influenced by sixties and seventies floral patterns I gave the flowers a bright blue colour.

Customised pencil box Posca Pens ellasplace.co.uk

What I like about these pens is that you can layer them without them bleeding and apply lighter shades over darker ones which means I could add depth to the flowers with lovely yellow centres and white pollen.You can set the design by simply spraying some varnish over it.
Customised pencil box Posca Pens ellasplace.co.uk
Customised pencil box Posca Pens ellasplace.co.uk

You can set the design on the box by

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Plant of the Fortnight: Thistle

Thistle illustration (c) Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk
I have very good associations with the thistle, that’s why I picked them as this fortnight’s plant. They may be prickly but I think they are a great alternative to ‘girly’ flowers and I love the look of them either cut or as beautiful structural blooms in the garden. I enjoyed sketching these quick black and white drawings.

Thistle illustration (c) Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk

I also like thistles because they remind me of a very special friendship. Many years ago we had some new mates over to ours for dinner and it turned in a very boozy affair. One particular guest left her handbag at ours when she left in the earlier hours of the morning. The following day she turned up to pick the bag up with a full bouquet of white daisies and blue, green thistles and we ended up talking over strong cups of tea (and many crisps and biscuits) way into the evening. A bond was formed and we have been buddies ever since.

Thistle illustration (c) Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.ukThistle illustration (c) Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk
Thistle illustration (c) Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk

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New Plant of the Fortnight: Tulip

Tulip watercolour and ink illustration by Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk
Happy Good Friday! Hope you’re enjoying the long weekend. Here’s an Easter flower just for you.

So earlier this week I dashed off some quick black and white tulip drawings. I enjoyed doing these sketches as I do love a tulip, I’ve focused on a particularly ornate blush-coloured bloom for the the final version – don’t you just love its sunsetty petals? Watercolour is great for getting this rich effect mixing orange, yellow and pinky hues. I hope your weekend is just as colourful!

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Plant of the Fortnight: Tulip

Flower of the fortnight. Quick sketch Tulip (c) Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk

My birthday is in March so the tulip really reminds me of celebrations. Also, as a very lapsed catholic, it evokes memories of Easter festivals and masses at school. So that’s why it’s my plant of the fortnight.

As is customary for this series, I’m posting three super-quick black and white sketches of this structural, elegant and understated flowers now and showcasing a honed, perfected illustration of the bloom in watercolour and ink at the end of the week.

Flower of the fortnight. Quick sketch Tulip (c) Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk

Flower of the fortnight. Quick sketch Tulip (c) Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk

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Plant of the Fortnight: Wood Anemone

Wood Anemone Illustration (c) Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk

On Monday I shared some sketchy five minute drawings of some wood anemones, here’s my colour version using watercolour and ink. I’ve also worked up a pretty pattern repeat using the flower and foliage as a motif.

These are really lovely delicate flowers, I love their light, paper-like petals and delicate minty coloured leaves. I’m lucky enough to live near woods and every spring it is full with a delightful carpet of green and white. It’s a wonderful gift every year and gives us a tremendous amount of pleasure.

Wood anemone pattern (c) Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk

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Plant of the Fortnight: Wood Anemone

Flower of the fortnight. Quick sketch Anemone. (c) Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk

You may have noticed by now that I love drawing birds and flowers, so to accompany my bird of the fortnight posts, I’m also doing a plant of the fortnight series. Just like its avian sister it will feature three very quick black and white felt-tip sketches of various favourite flora and fauna, then a final watercolour and ink illustration.

I’m kicking off with wood anemone. These are a most welcome sight when I go walking in Wivenhoe wood, so much so we tried to grow them in our garden (they didn’t like our clay soil). Watch out on Friday for my worked-up version.

Flower of the fortnight. Quick sketch Anemone. (c) Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk
Flower of the fortnight. Quick sketch Anemone. (c) Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk

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Hack: Pimp up a flower display

Easy carton boxes with Sizzix dies in Ella Johnston Love Heart Paper (c) ellasplace.co.uk

It’s a week until Mothering Sunday in the UK. If you’re having a little celebration or gathering with your mum (or indeed anyone – an aunt, a friend, a neighbour) it’s worth making an effort to make the get together more special. Having a lovely little flower display is an easy way to make someone smile and feel like you’ve gone the extra mile.

So this is a really easy and more importantly really cheap way to pimp up a floral display. I used few flower heads, some little shot glasses and sturdy paper featuring my love heart design. I made cute carton style boxes, popped the shot glass in (with around 2cm of water) and snuck the flower bud in to peak above the top of the paper. This method means you can display a single bloom without blowing your budget on a big bouquet.

I used a die-cutting machine (Sizzix Big Shot Machine #660200) with a carton box die (Sizzix Thinlits Die – Box, Milk Carton) to make my boxes but you can make a simple paper cover by simply scoring a paper rectangle so it wraps around the shot glass like a sleeve. So, it’s not just for Mother’s Day, I like to do this for parties and get-togethers when I want an easy decorative touch that I can theme with different paper designs and blooms.

Easy carton boxes with Sizzix dies in Ella Johnston Love Heart Paper (c) ellasplace.co.uk

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Colourful little bowls for small plates

Little bowls for tapas. http://www.ellasplace.me ©Ella Johnston.

Sunny summer weather, the weekend… I think it might be time for some tapas. Winter might make you hungry for a big dish of something slow-cooked in one pot, but at this time of year small plates and sharing food are some of my favourite things. Colourful little bowls are the perfect way to present tapas and antipasti and just looking at them makes me feel the sunshine of a warm evening. A few of mine, pictured above, are ready and waiting for a leisurely Saturday. Fingers crossed the good weather stays.
Heleniums from our garden. http://www.ellasplace.me ©Ella Johnston.