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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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Friday fun! Botanical love; more spoils from the garden

Garden flowers

More indulgent love for botanicals from me. My garden just keeps giving. Roses.

What a beautiful, beautiful summer it’s been so I’ve been reaping more spoils from the garden.
Roses. We have beautiful bright pink roses which need constant pruning – they just keep blooming. This is great for us as we have an abundant supply of vibrant blooms to grace our rooms with.
Roses. Luckily we’re also in dahlia season so everyday I’m checking which heads I can chop to bring indoors and display in our home.
Dahlia. I love a big fat dahlia bloom – you can display a single stem and enjoy its wonderful structure and architecture. So I’ve placed one of my orange flowers in this lovely marble effect  vase I found at a charity shop and the other in my favourite green fishbowl vase (sorry about the reflections, I’ve still got so much to learn about photography and picture editing)

dahalia 1

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Bag a Freebie! Win a Gorgeous Thornback & Peel Tote

Thornback & Peel Bag Summer Essentials

Are you a freebie fan? Get your hands on a gorgeous Thornback & Peel tote bag. For your chance to win, simply tweet me  or leave a message on my Facebook wall with the #TandPTote hashtag telling me what you’d put in yours. I’ll be announcing the winner on 25th June.

I’m a big fan of Thornback & Peel – the celebration of fine illustration and choice of colour ways makes for elegant pieces without being overly stuffy or fussy. So I was very pleased when the company sent me this Mums & Roses tote, especially as it comes in blue and white; the colour-combo of the summer. For more designs check out the rest of the collection at the Thornback & Peel website > here.

Thornback & Peel Bag Summer Essentials

This tote is simply perfect for my alfresco watercolour painting jaunts over the summer.

At this time of year the light is so beautiful where I live, especially in the mornings.  I often spend the start of the day with my paper pad and paints at the ready to capture the Essex estuary landscapes and the flora and fauna therein.

Thornback & Peel Bag Summer Essentials

I’m filling my tote with my summer painting essentials. The bag is just the right size to fit two A3 pads comfortably with ample room for brushes and paints plus a bottle of mixing water, making it a practical as well as stylish choice.

Thornback & Peel Bag Summer Essentials

Whatever you’re doing over the summer, why not stash your seasonal essentials in a stylish tote?

Even if you’re not the lucky winner of my comp, you can get a 15% discount on one of these shoppers until 29th June 2016; just visit the Thornback & Peel website and quote ELLASPLACE at the checkout.

Thornback & Peel Bag Summer Essentials the comp via my >Twitter or >Facebook

Check out Thornback & Peels totes >here

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Stash-busting How-to: Make Paper Banners

Banner display I don’t know about you but I’ve got a big stash of plain and patterned paper from previous projects and from when I’ve taken advantage of bulk offers in art shops. It seems like a waste to have them languishing in drawers and boxes so last week I took action and turned some of them into stash-busting banners to decorate our study with a simple wall display.
Banner display I had some lovely light blue card that I’d been waiting for something to do with and some left-over summer swallow and butterfly designs that I had created to decorate a friends wedding. I thought the colours all worked really well together and I had some Posca pens in a lovely slate grey that would lift the blue card and unify the whole scheme once I’d added some simple text and design.
Banner display Making these banners is a synch. It just requires a ruler, a length of doweling, a craft knife, twine, double-sided-tape and the paper(s) of your choice. I measured my doweling at various lengths and cut to size (I could easily snip mine with a craft knife but you may need something more ‘robust’).
Banner display I then trimmed my papers into rectangles making sure I had about a 2cm allowance to wrap them over the doweling and leaving room at the bottom for cutting the bottom into a ‘v’ or inverted ‘v’ or at an angle while not compromising the main design.
Banner display the blue card was cut, I could draw a bespoke illustration on it. I thought I’d keep it some with a hand-scripted ‘hello’ and some simple laurel leaf and flower motifs. Let me know if you’d like me to talk through hand scripting and drawing these leaves and flowers – they’re easy to master and you don’t have to be a great draftsman/woman, I promise .
Banner display With everything cut to size I applied lengths of double-sided-tape to the doweling and, in the case three out of the four banners, I attached the ends of my twine before rolling the edges of the rectangles over the doweling to fix.

I’m pleased that I was able to give my old stash a new lease of life and I’m delighted to be able to add another bit of quirky handmade styles to a little corner of our study.

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11 Indigo Inspired Buys

11 Indigo Inspired Buys
While I often plump for hot shades and vibrant hues come summer, sometimes I yearn for clean lines, cooling colours and simplicity.

A beautiful indigo inspired palette fits the bill perfectly. This colour scheme can be used to create a Tuscan, Moroccan  or even Japanese art style vibe. It’s a look that incorporates artisan craft, intricate illustration plus both geometric and ornate pattern so you indulge in it whatever your tastes. I’ve used the look in my dining room with shibori coasters and my bedroom using my blue and white thistle fabric to make bedside lanterns. The deep blues, crisp whites and dark accents give everything a fresh, light feel that you can carry on into very early autumn.

The high street agrees with me – in fact it’s all about the indigo for SS16 so, here’s my top 11 blue for you buys…

Play the blues interior picks ellasplace.couk
Moroccan Blue Dinnerware from Sainsbury’s
Play the blues interior picks ellasplace.couk
Octopus Indigo Linen Cushion from Cream Cornwall
Play the blues interior picks ellasplace.couk
Tom Dixon Bowl at Amara
Play the blues interior picks ellasplace.couk
Welsh Knot Throw from Eclect Design
Play the blues interior picks ellasplace.couk
Geometric Pillar Candles from Mia Fleur
Play the blues interior picks ellasplace.couk
Sinilintu Rug and Cushions from Vallila Interior
Play the blues interior picks ellasplace.couk
Vase from  Debenhams
Play the blues interior picks ellasplace.couk
Lene Bjerre Camelia Tea Jar From Houseology
Play the blues interior picks ellasplace.couk
Rug from Very
Play the blues interior picks ellasplace.couk
Hand Painted Moroccan Cups from St Barts
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Plant of the fortnight 16/05/16 Sweetpea

Sweetpea black and white sketch. Ella Johnston. Plant of the Fortnight
Sweetpeas are the quintessential summer flower for the UK. Their variety of colours and their delicate paper-like petals are a seasonal favourite in people’s gardens.
Sweetpea black and white sketch. Ella Johnston. Plant of the Fortnight
It’s not quite sweetpea season yet but once they come I hope to fill little jars and bottles. They look so lovely all grouped together – particularly so when I’m having any outdoor garden gathering.

Not only are they a pleasure to display, they are also a joy to draw. These black and white sketches didn’t take long to do but it’s fun to capture the folds and structure of the individual blooms if you like line drawing (which I do). I can’t wait to go wild with my colour paints when I work up the watercolour versions.
Sweetpea black and white sketch. Ella Johnston. Plant of the Fortnight

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Colourful little bowls for small plates

Little bowls for tapas. ©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. ©Ella Johnston.

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Summer in five colours

Berry head cliff edge TEST LO RES

Last week I spent a few days in South Devon and the weather was beautiful. At this time of year, when nature is starting to reach its vibrant peak, colours come into their own and seem to create a palette of pink, white, green, yellow and blue.

Red valerian at Berry Head PINK LO RES

The hedgerows, meadowlands and walls were full of wild red valerian, which is sometimes known as kiss-me-quick, fox’s brush or Jupiter’s beard. It was everywhere.
Red valerian at Berry Head 2 PINK LO RES

White valerian at Berry Head WHITE LO RESThe white ‘albus’ form of valerian also smothered swathes of the cliffs at Berry Head, while the higgledy-piggledy buildings of Brixham’s harbour reminded me that what we think of as ‘white’ is usually a mixtures of other, softer colours – creams, yellows, blues and pinks.
Brixham Quay WHITE LO RES

Ivy blue wall 2 GREEN LO RESSome of those harbourside walls are gradually being ‘greened’, while a walk through the Grove took me back to Andrew Marvell’s poem ‘The Garden’ and the line ‘a green thought in a green shade’.
Brixham Grove trees GREEN LO RES

Brixham lichen 2 YELLOW LO RESThe sunny week in June saw me and Dr B spend afternoons in some of the secluded coves along South Devon’s coast. I am fascinated by lichen (it’s starting to cover the roof of my little studio) and on one afternoon the dappled sunshine was reflected in the golden colour of the lichen on the rocks at the foot of the cliff – it’s almost an abstract painting.

Fishcombe Cove boat BLUE LO RESAnd of course, when it comes to blue, the sea and the sky around Torbay provided perfect inspiration.
Torbay yachts TEST LO RES