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Drawing of the week: Red Admiral Butterfly

Red Admiral Butterfly Illustration (c) Ella Johnston

This week’s drawing of the week is of a Red Admiral butterfly.

With the snazzy latin name of Venessa Atalanta (I think I may employ this as a pseudonym at some point), this beautiful creature is coming to a garden or woodland near you! (That’s if you live in the British Isles of course).

This beauty will be part of my every growing illustrated butterfly guide, I’ve got quite a collection of watercolour and ink butterflies now, I’m just trying to decide on which illustrations make the final cut. I’ll show you the finished piece soon.

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Drawing of the week: red squirrel

squirrel illustration by Ella Johnston

I’m in an autumnal mood now so I wanted to give you a drawing this week that reflected that, a lovely red squirrel, resplendent in his seasonal coat.

Don’t get me wrong, I like a grey squirrel (I don’t subscribe to the ‘rats with good PR’ school) but nothing beats a stunning red creature. They really capture autumn for me so I wanted a woodland classic for my illustration.

As usual I whipped up this fella using watercolour and ink, I wanted this to be quick and gestural like I was just catching him while he was away gathering his nuts.

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Drawing of the week: Badger

Badger Illustration Ella Johnston

This week I’ve drawn a badger.

I’ve been experimenting with woodland creature drawings with watercolour and ink over the past couple of months and I must admit I’ve had so much fun illustrating this charming animals.

Badger print from Not On The High Street

Actually I’m quite drawn to my woodland folk so I’ve made some of the drawings into prints. My hare, badger and fox prints are now available on my Not On The High Street shop.
Fox print Ella Johnston

Hare print Not On The High Street

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7 Strong AW16 Home Looks

AW16 Looks
Summer is nearly done (yes, sorry to let you know about that one) and I’m looking forward to refreshing JB towers with some new looks for AW16.

I’m very excited about this season – there are so many looks I love that can be enjoyed and adapted to suit your style. There are seven really strong themes that would work well in any kind of interior, large or small, grand or modest.

Colour pop fun

Colour pop fun AW16
From Very

I can’t resist a pop in colour in my rooms. You can go bold with a Memphis-inspired scheme like the one from Very above or you can simply add colour accents to a more restrained room with accessories. How about some bright crockery or a statement lamp or piece of brightly coloured furniture.

Colour pop fun AW16
From Very
From Cuckooland
From Cuckooland

Lush and plush

Lush and plush AW16
From House of Fraser

We all love a bit of luxe; gorgeous fabrics and textures that are tactile, soft and warm that make us feel warm and snuggly while still retaining a sense of style and opulence. Key colours are navy, purple and turquoise and beautiful metallic touches. Oh, and don’t forget a bit of greenery!

Lush and Plush AW16
From Debenhams

Understated luxury

Understated luxury AW16
From Sainsbury’s

This look reminds of years ago when, in another life I think, as production editor on Restaurant Magazine I went on my first press trip. It was to the Martel Chateaux in Bordeaux and it was really quite something. Woven carpets and tapestries, distressed wooden panels and floors. Studded sofas, elegant candelabra and pretty chandeliers – the whole place was just divine and now is rather easy to evoke with a few high street buys.

Understated luxury AW16
From Sainsburys’
From Marks & Spencer
From Marks & Spencer

Quirky classics

Quirky classic
From Marks and Spencer

If you’ve had a look at my menagerie pages you’ll know I love a home with a sense of humour and a touch of the unexpected. So I’m pleased to see accessories from so many leading retailers that make you smile this year.  I’m particularly taken with this vase from Marks and Spencer.

From George at ASDA
From George at ASDA

Cool and clean

Simple elegance AW16
From Dunelm

A calm colour scheme and  well chosen, minimal accessorising can be a really rather wonderful thing. Its certainly something I like in a bedroom and this was definitely my approach when I lived in a small flat. There are so many collections available in terms of furniture and accessories that you can co-ordinate to get this grown-up look.

Simple elegance AW16
From Next
From Debenhams
From Debenhams

Cosy eclectic

Cosy eclectic AW16
From Homesense

As a former editor of craft mags I’m always drawn to a mismatched style that showcases knitting, crochet, patchwork, weaving and a nice bit of trimming. Check out this room scene from Homesense – it’s colourful and cosy sure but it also has such a cohesive style, it’s just so inviting.

Woodland wonders

Woodland wonders AW16
From George at Asda

No autumn round up would be complete without this season’s take on nordic and woodland. I think these ceramics and ornaments from George are really cool; contemporary and fun.

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Moodboard Monday: Green and white

Ellas Place Moodboard Monday

As an artist, illustrator and journalist, observation, research and image gathering are key to the success of my work. So from now on I’m letting you in on my working practice every week with my Monday Moodboards.

I’m always taking pictures of things that catch my eye and (much to Dr B’s chagrin) spend at least a couple of hours a day on Pinterest (probably not very healthy I know) collecting all kinds of images that reflect trends and serve as inspiration for my home and my drawings. Making them into a moodboard distills my thoughts and allows me to think about the vibe I want to create with my own endeavours.

I’ve recently become fascinated by green and white. It is so representative of this time of year. During the past three weeks I’ve been greeted with this glorious colour combination on my daily morning woodland and riverside walks. Lush grass, delicate hawthorn flower and cow parsley abound the environment creating delightful glades and giving everything a soft, elegant appearance. Beautiful.

This simple palette has so much potential in terms of design and it’s versatile too; a simple flower arrangement, artful grouping of fern and minty coloured objet, delicate planting or full-on statement floor and wall tiles, there are so many ways to incorporate this look into your home.  Used wisely it can look stylish in a laid back, understated way. And even if you’re not actually using natural elements or motifs it suggests a natural, organic feel. The clean, fresh scheme and simplicity reflected in my mood board has also given me food for thought when it comes to my illustrations – sometimes maybe less is more?

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A wood full of bluebells


The start of May means bluebells in British woodlands and I’m lucky enough to live next door to a place that’s full of them – here’s some pictures I took while out walking.


You can find both English and Spanish varieties of the flower at this time of year but, while the Spanish version is just as pretty, it can be a bit of a nuisance. According to reports it spreads everywhere and can hybridise with our native bloom, possibly ousting it from its natural habitat. In short, it’s the plant version of the grey squirrel.

Thankfully we don’t seem to have any Spanish bluebells in our local woods and the few bluebells at the bottom of our little garden are English too. I’ve enjoyed studying and drawing the home-grown blossoms.

Bluebells by Ella Johnston

I love the carpet of blue, violet and green that graces our woodland at this time of year and it inspired me to create a repeat pattern design. I’ll be using this on fabric and paper designs soon, so watch this space…