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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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Sharing the love with Not On The High Street #LoveIsReal

Love is Real, NOTHS (c) Ella Johnston

Today I’ve had fun doing my version of the Not On The High Street “Love is” tag. The company has sent it to its partners so they can spread the love in the run up to Valentine’s Day.

I think love is an important message to communicate at any time, no more so than in these turbulent, uncertain times. For me kindness and compassion goes hand and hand with love. Kindness to your partner, to your friends, to strangers, to yourself and to the planet we all share; the latter is why my sign is nature-themed flamingo illustration. I created the illustration with pencil and my spare pink and white poscas.

Love is Real, NOTHS (c) Ella Johnston

You can see more LoveIsReal tags here

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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

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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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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.

PINK
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
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

GREEN
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

YELLOW
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.

BLUE
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