About Me

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Denman Island, British Columbia, Canada
Jean Cockburn retired from her professional career as an academic librarian in 2008 to become a textile artist living on Denman Island, British Columbia. She draws, quilts, embroiders, knits and crochets, makes wearable art, weaves baskets, dyes fabric, and paints watercolours. Her work has been exhibited locally in juried and group shows on Denman Island, in Courtenay, Comox, and Duncan on Vancouver Island, in West Vancouver, and across Canada with the Surface Design Association.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

"Emmeline" purple mohair knitted cardigan finished

Well, finished except for sewing on the buttons. I started this cardigan in October and finished it this evening. Here it is blocking on the kitchen counter.

It seemed huge while I was knitting it, but when I try it on it is just a nice size to go over an underlayer. If anything, the sleeves are a tad short, but that is okay as a long sleeve t-shirt sleeve can fit nicely underneath.

Update: After blocking it fit perfectly. Here I am modelling the sweater on Christmas Day.

The yarn that was gifted to me by a 90 year old friend of a friend probably dates back to the 1960's, and it reminds me of The Purple People Eater, a silly song from those days.

It will be a cuddly sweater to wear around the house on cold days, and I might even show it in public, judicially - like maybe to the quilting group. Not, I don't think, to the young folks in my art class.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Last painting class for the term

Today was the last class and final painting critique of Fine Arts 120 at North Island College, the Tuesday afternoon class with instructor Elizabeth Russell.

I painted a triptych, an homage to Leonard Cohen, based on the refrain from his song/poem Anthem, "There is a crack in everything, That's how the light gets in".

Community quilts

The Denman Island Quilters regularly make quilts for members of the community who have contributed to the life of the island.
Allison has been teaching yoga for years, but is retiring at the end of 2016. This quilt was pieced by several of the quilters, and a third member was doing the machine quilting, until her husband had to go into hospital. I agreed to finish up the quilting, and now it is off to be bound by yet another member of the guild.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Last painting class assignment for this term

I have been working hard on my final Independent painting, worth 20% of our course mark. The critique is on Tuesday. I have not shown any process photos because I prefer to keep it all to myself until the finished work of art is presented to the class. Next week I will post some pics and the process of making the piece.

In the meantime, I have been working on homework related to colour theory. The previous week was simultaneous colour contrast, where I painted a landscape image with the complimentary hues of blue and orange, mixed neutrals, then removed the blue from the palette and substituted blue-green, an analogous colour to blue. I did not take a photo of that.

This past week's assignment was contrast of extension. See http://www.utdallas.edu/~melacy/pages/2D_Design/Itten_ColorContrasts/IttenColorContrasts.html .

Sunday, November 27, 2016

This week's art class homework

My choice of a surface, a thick gnarly piece of Douglas Fir bark. It looks very grey here, but it was browner under the incandescent lamp.

I used complimentary colours of yellow and violet, and lots of mixed neutrals, and a tint of the greyish neutral for the highlights.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Preparing wooden panels for acrylic painting

Our final graduating project in my North Island College course will be an independent painting. The minimum size is 24" by 36" - so, big! We can use any medium, including collage, and paint on any support.

Here is the course description:


4 hours, includes lecture and studio time, 3 credits
An introductory course intended to provide students with an overview of colour theories relating to design and fine art practices. Historical contexts and social and psychological implications will give the direction of study of the perception of colour in the visual arts of the 20th century. This class explores a variety of exercises from colour mixing to painting sessions with live models and still life subjects.

I have decided to do a triptych on wooden panels. I ordered 3 panels from Opus, 24x24", and two 12x24". I spent the day today giving the panels a light sanding with a sanding block, then applying two coats of Golden GAC-100. Tomorrow will be gesso, two coats, lightly sanded.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Weekend in Palm Desert

Pen sketch of Anne's backyard. The perspective is wonky, but I think I captured the feel of sitting under the overhanging roof, looking out at the pool and the palms against the concrete wall.

The "super moon", at about 6:30 in the evening as we walked across the street for dinner.

On the left is a pencil and charcoal sketch from the moon photo above, which I spoiled by spraying heavily with hairspray to fix the charcoal, resulting in the ink sketch on the opposite side of the page, bleeding through. On the right is a watercolour sketch of a charming arrangement of pots in a corner of the backyard.

Three of the five, ready to open a very large bottle of Prosecco from Trader Joes.

Monday, November 7, 2016

House concert with James Brawn

We were privileged to attend a house concert at our neighbour's this afternoon, a piano recital with James Brawn  http://jamesbrawn.com/. All Russian composers, see programme below, played on Robert and Andrew's Falcone grand piano.

Robert Newton is the organizer of Concerts Denman.

The music reverberated throughout Robert and Andrew's log home whilst outside huge Douglas Fir tree branches soughed in the wind while rain pattered against the windows. A very special recital!

Sketching with Chinese sumi ink and a dip nib pen

Using the dip nib pen is a bit more work, organization, bit of a mess, clean up - whatever - than just picking up a technical pen. However, I do really like the line, the colour, the intense blackness, the special "hand of the maker" look that comes from using a dip nib pen.

The other day I got out my bottle of sumi ink, Chunghwa Ink.

In order to use the ink with a dip pen, I pour some ink into a small yogurt container, and tilt the container to get enough depth of ink to dip the nib. I end up pouring ink away down the sink at the end of my drawing session, but at $6.00 a bottle, and given that I have had the bottle for about 10 years, I think that is affordable.

The ink is very black and has a sweet herbal scent that lingers on the page for several weeks after the drawing is complete. Given that some inks really smell awful, this is a nice aspect of using this ink.

I did this small sketch with the sumi ink, and I like the variation in line, and the intense blackness.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Art class homework

Three things to do for homework this week:

1.  Make a monochromatic colour range chart - I used the new Hansa Yellow Middle paint that we received in class this week, because the instructor said that it is a true yellow and does not require mixing to make the hue.  I added black to make many tones, and white to make many tints. Colour chart done, and the glue is drying now.

2.  Figure out how to draw drapery using the handout that we got in class. I pinned my paint wiping old terry towel to the cork board with a push pin, and set to work. I have always considered drawing drapery to be a big mystery, and totally beyond my powers. But hey, look at this first effort! Just goes to show that you can learn anything if you apply yourself.

My first ever drapery drawing - onward!

Tomorrow I need to start on the most important and time consuming part of the homework which is to spend from 4 to 20 (!) hours on refining the monochromatic model study from class, paying careful attention to the darks and lights in the hair, the hands, and the drapery on the model stand.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Art class, second half of term

Hurrah, I got an A- for my mid-term mark! Very gratified and inspired to work even harder.

On Tuesday we started the last half of the term, and the expectations are ramping up as we begin painting from a live model.

The class agenda.

We are not allowed to take pictures of the model, but we were allowed to photograph the model stand after she left so that we could work on the drapery as part of our homework.
This was the third exercise, where we used a monochromatic colour scheme to paint the model. We took this home, and for homework we are to refine the painting and particularly work on the drapery.

This was the first exercise, a black silhouette of the model - a negative space painting.

Our second work in black and white, another silhouette, this time with internal figure lines and some modelling of the background.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Table runner complete

I started this table runner at Krista Hennebury's "Structured Improv" quilting workshop at the Creative Threads Conspiracy last weekend.

This morning I added the facings.  All finished!

On the dining room table. It is almost five feet long. 
Detail of the centre, showing the walking foot machine quilting.

Detail of the back, showing the faced edges.

The back of the quilted table runner.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Quilted pieces ready for edge finishes

I finished the machine quilting on this table runner. I think that I will give it a faced edge.

I have finished the detailed hand quilting/embroidery on this art piece. Now I need to finish the edges, but I do not want a machine sewn on binding. Maybe a crocheted edge in gold yarn?

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Creative Threads Conspiracy 2016

Krista's Structural Improv workshop over Friday and Saturday was great!

My in progress pieced top.

Six happy students and Krista (second from left).

Next step in the self-portrait assignment

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Proceeding with self-portrait art class exercise

I am working on my shades of grey self-portrait for my NIC art class.

The instructor told us not to worry about a likeness, but to think about facial proportions. I know that the right side eye is smaller and crooked, but I kind of like it, so am not going to change it. I need to do the hair, that will be for tomorrow.

Art class tertiary colour assignment

Last colour mixing assignment was to mix the six tertiary colours: yellow-orange, red-orange, red-violet, blue-violet, blue-green, yellow-green.

The painting exercise was to use all 6 tertiary colours, and possibly white, no black - no shades or tints, and create a piece that expressed movement.

I made a painting of verticals in cool colours, and collaged painted circles of warm colours on top. I like this the best of my colour exercises.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Painting class homework

My acrylic painting class at North Island College is a challenge! Mostly it is learning to use acrylic paint, which is a totally new medium for me.

Our mid-term assignment is to paint a huge self-portrait, in shades of grey, from life by looking in a mirror, and using non-traditional implements. Agh!

The assignment.
My initial very rough sketch, to make sure I would understand facial proportions.
Starting to work on the huge piece of paper (4 pieces of gessoed painting paper, taped together on the back) which I have covered thickly first with pale grey paint. The paper really bubbled up along the vertical join for some reason after I put on the layer of grey paint. Oh well, all in the learning process.
I am using an old brush which was using for varnishing some time and is hard as a rock. This according to my instructor, is just the thing for this project. It certainly does not allow one to be too finicky.
Note how I have messed up all the proportions, and the eyes are too close together, the forehead is too shallow, and in general I look like an ape.
Very hard to dance around the paper on the floor, try to look in the mirror, and try to keep from constantly stepping on the paper! I will work on it some more tomorrow.

Rust dyed fabric update

Last month a group of us did some rust dyeing. See my previous posts on the subject:

I stamped some motifs onto the fabric with ink, then overlaid with gold acrylic paint, and have been slowly adding stitching. I did some more stitching today while waiting for the background of my large acrylic painting homework to dry.

I am using silk threads in a variety of weights. I love the way the stitching is making this design come alive.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Knitting purple mohair cardigan "Emmeline"

An elderly friend of a friend decided to de-stash her knitting yarn. I offered to take it. Much of it is not to my taste, so I will pass it on to the quilters group next week and to the free store at the recycling centre.

I did keep for myself a lovely stash of purple mohair, Super Kid, from a discontinued yarn line Chat Botté.

This yarn is now discontinued.
The donation from the friend also included a bag of old knitting patterns. I kept this year 2000 issue of Rowan Knitting Magazine as it features mohair yarns, and has the pattern that I will use for a cardigan.
The illustration from the magazine of the pattern, called "Emmeline". 
This pattern is available on the Ravelry store if the photo above is illegible. See http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/emmeline

Purple Emmeline cardigan underway! I cast on 226 stitches to knit the back and fronts together to the armhole. I just don't understand seaming anymore that you have to when knitting.
I decided not to do the bell ruffle bottom edging, so I just did a simple K2P2 ribbing for 10 rows, then moved into the 4 rows purl, and am using this subtle purple glitter thread for the fair isle pattern band.