Posted on Leave a comment

Monday Moodboard: Sea shells

Seashells Monday Moodboard

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.

Right, let me get those watercolours out.

Posted on Leave a comment

Oh for the love of hellebores

Hellebore (c) Ella JohnstonThis time of year is just a gift for me as I celebrate my love for hellebores.
Hellebore (c) Ella JohnstonI have a confession to make though. Until we had our garden I had never heard of these blooms. Yes I know – I’m rubbish. I have Dr B to thank for this new love of mine.
Hellebore (c) Ella JohnstonWhen we moved from our London flat to a house with a garden, Dr B unleashed his inner Monty Don (no bad thing) and began his plan for ‘all year planting’. Hellebores, he told me, were a classic winter flower that pop up in Feb and I was assured that every February I would see lovely blossoms that would delight. Dr B didn’t disappoint.
Hellebore (c) Ella Johnston Now every year I look forward to the arrival of these beautiful flowers. I’m told they benefit from a little prune so I’m forever dipping into our garden to snip some flower heads to display indoors.
Hellebore (c) Ella JohnstonThis also gives me a chance to use up my glass globe mini vase (a gift from my sister) and upcycle some charity shop finds. I’ve used my Posca pens to draw on some tealight holders for some floating water displays and spray painted a really rather ugly small vintage vase for a more traditional arrangement.
Hellebore (c) Ella Johnston Hellebore (c) Ella Johnston

Posted on Leave a comment

Give a new build character

We live in a new build house (well it’s 10 years old – we’ve been there five). While we love the lack of building work and fighting with fittings, one of the biggest challenges of living in a new build home is to give the place some character and life.

We didn’t want to add architectural features that aren’t there – we wouldn’t feel comfortable about that – but there are simple ways to make the place look more established. The easiest place to start is with the floor and the walls.

We got rid of our standard issue new-build magnolia and gave our walls a classic clean, white and grey paint job. In the lounge we got rid of our fake fireplace and laid an oak floor stained black in our new build town-house and overlaid it with a traditional Persian rug.

Persan rug and dark floor Ella Johnston

You can give your bathrooms and kitchens a similar treatment. These blue Vecchio Floreale tiles are perfect for giving a modern home a vintage touch.

Walls and Floors have just launched their Vecchio Floreale Indigo Tiles. These durable ceramic tiles are suitable for use on both wall and floor spaces. They have a vintage pattern in blue and white tones, with an aged design, which is ideal for injecting personality into a bathroom, kitchen, hallway or living area. These tiles can be used to create a statement floor or feature wall.

The tiles measure 330 x 330 x 9.5mm and have a nice matt finish. They cost £29.95 per square metre. You can get hold of these and more vintage-style designs at the Walls and Floors website.

Posted on Leave a comment

Daffodils! Hello Spring!

daffodils (c) Ella Johnston

This time of year is so precious. Spring is coming and cheap posies of daffodils are in the shops. When these blooms are in abundance I buy two bunches every week for an instant hit of natural colour in my home. Unless I cut something from my garden, my floral displays are never usually that cheap.

By the way, the vase was given to me by my mum and dad who found these vintage Horlicks jars at an antique auction. It’s one of my favourite vases for displaying blooms.

Posted on Leave a comment

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

Posted on Leave a comment

Monday Moodboard: Metallics

Monday moodboard: Metallics Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk

Every single interiors retail show I visited over the summer this year featured metallics, particularly copper, that’s why it’s this week’s Monday Moodboard.

Fans of simplicity take note. You don’t have to be full-on bling to embrace a bit of metallic joy in your life (although don’t mind a bit of bling sometimes). Metallics can achieve a dramatic, opulent look but you can also use metallics to add warmth and texture to things as I hope I’ve shown here.

Metallic touches can be subtle, chic and classy I promise; underlaid under shabby chic furniture, incorporated into abstract-impressionist inspired painting, a subtle accent onto painted pebbles, gorgeous vintage bakewares even to brighten up a simply-shaped cake – it’s not all about blinding people with glamour and sparkle.

Posted on Leave a comment

Easy, Cheap Display Ideas: Spoils from my Garden

Fern Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk The garden is a great place to source bits and pieces for a quick, easy and cheap display. Ideal for weddings and parties or, for me, as last minute props when photographing my prints and stationery.
Ferns Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.ukAs our ferns are so lush and green at the mo, I’ve been snipping the odd leaf to place in clear containers for the ultimate elegant display. Teaming them with over-it cow parsley also looks very effective as a simple structural tableaux.
Poppy Heads Ella Johnston
We had an abundance of poppies this year. Now they’re all done I’ve got loads of fab poppy heads to have as year-round loveliness. I’ve combined these with some dried out teasels that my mum gave me last year and placed them in a vintage jug I picked up from a charity for a loose organic feel.

Posted on Leave a comment

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

Posted on Leave a comment

Home hack: Four Beautiful Flower Displays

Peony flower display Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.ukOne of the easiest and cheapest way to give your rooms a splash of quick colour is by adding some flowers to a table or mantelpiece. It’s amazing the instant impact that even the most simple of displays can produce.
Peony flower display Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.ukOver the past month I’ve made a record of my displays every week and now I’m sharing them with you. I’ve tried to keep my budget limited with a £40 maximum and £5 min.
Peony flower display Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk

My luxury purple and pink display costs around £40. The mixed peonies in light pink and deep plum were from Value Flora where you can get six stems delivered from £19.99. The vibrant, frilly carnations from my local florist were a snip at 70p each and the roses were £3 for three. I got the wilder bits of foliage from the garden.

Peony flower display Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.ukBecause these blooms aren’t especially structural I wanted the arrangement to be informal. So I opted for a fairly loose dome. I did this by following the same method I use when making a hand-tied posy.
Peony flower display Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk You do this by creating a layering the stems in a spiral formation, starting with one flower in the centre and simply circling blooms around this central one and continuing until you make a dome. Then I give it a bit of a shake before I put into the blooms the vase – I do this to loosen the posy up a bit so it doesn’t look so rigid. I used one of my favourite pieces of pottery to place these blooms in – I just wish I’d made a note of who made it as we’ve had this vase for 10 years and it brings us both joy everyday. The side table was a charity shop bargain; £5 from Cancer Research.
Peony flower display Ella Johnston ellasplace.co.uk

The display below was inspired by the paintings of Jan van Huysum and the recent Dutch Flowers exhibition in the National Gallery. I fancied creating something similarly atmospheric at home. Vintage floral display ellasplace.co.uk

Although this looks quite grand, this rather formal set up is so easy to recreate. I sprayed an old charity shop pub branded vase with bronze paint. Once dry I taped a small block of florists foam soaked in water onto the container. I then arranged the stems into the foam, making sure I walked around the vase and looked onto so that not a bit of the green soaky stuff was exposed. I kept the colours to a minimum for this one, using mainly white, cream and green tones with little splashes of red and pink. I placed the shells by the bottom of the vase to be arch.
Vintage floral display ellasplace.co.uk

I won’t lie, this one below is actually from my mum as the ‘rents came to see us this weekend. The yellow flowers from her and my dad’s garden smell divine; you get a whiff of a little puff of sherbet as you walk by. They look delightful with such vivid hues and open up into the most perfect shapes.

Yellow_1

My mum puts me to shame when it comes to her eye. Three simple, but bright ,stems, one of a contrasting colour, placed at different heights into a vintage old glass bottle that they bought as a job lot at an auction (Mr and Mrs J go to a lot of auctions).
Yellow_2 Crucially my mum removed the foliage that was below the water line; not only does this look better but it eliminates the bacteria that would thrive on those leaves. It also keeps the water in the vase cleaner and adds to the shelf life of the blooms.
Yellow_3

My final display was for a dinner party and consequently I didn’t want to spend loads of money on flowers as I’d already blown the budget on wine (#sorrynotsorry).
Flower display ideas ellasplace.co.ukThe table flowers to be low (people need to look at each-other over the table). I also wanted them to be fun as we were having a good time.

I’ve gathered quite a lot of swan vases from various charity shops over the years. None of them in their original state are particularly artful or beautiful so they’ve all been given the spray paint treatment on more than one occasion. I wanted them to twinkle amongst the candle-light on the table so I’ve painted them in a shiney metallic.
Flower display ideas ellasplace.co.uk Alstroemeria is ideal for when you want to create a floral statement but you haven’t got loads of money. A stem of alstroemeria has lots of blooms on it so you get a lot for your money and the flowers look very effective when grouped together in one colour. I teamed the red ones with little spray roses and some foliage from the garden, these were placed in water and arranged in the vase. I placed a block of florist foam in the white one, having two large lily heads as my main attraction while filling in the gaps with alstroemeria.
Flower display ideas ellasplace.co.uk

Posted on Leave a comment

Beginner’s Guide to Wading Birds

Waders and Shorebirds Illustrated Guide by Ella Johnston

As you know last week myself and Dr B launched our latest book The Migrant Waders. The publication features 21 illustrations of wading birds by yours truly. To accompany the book I’ve produced an illustrated poster of wading birds inspired by vintage bird guides I’ve come across in various antique shops and thrift stores as well as on pinterest.

Waders poster by Ella Johnston. ellasplace.co.uk

Waders poster by Ella Johnston. ellasplace.co.uk These illustrated bird guides have been enduring classics in terms of design and I must admit I’m very pleased with my own version. It’s great to see the birds all together and I’m tempted to do a guide featuring my garden birds too.

Waders poster by Ella Johnston. ellasplace.co.uk

As well as the poster I’ve also produced a set of postcards featuring the birds. Waders postcards by Ella Johnston. ellasplace.co.uk

There are six postcards in the set depicting a redshank, lapwing, curlew, greenshank, avocet and golden plover. Waders postcards by Ella Johnston. ellasplace.co.uk

Both the postcards and the poster were printed on textured high-quality gesso paper – I love the way it holds colour and it also shows off the fact that these illustrations were originally created on watercolour paper.
Waders postcards by Ella Johnston. ellasplace.co.uk

The poster and the cards are available at my various online shops on Folksy, Etsy and Not On the High Street. You can also buy them (along with the book) at the Dunlin Press online store.

Greenshank postcard by Ella Johnston. ellasplace.co.uk

Waders poster by Ella Johnston. ellasplace.co.uk