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.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Creatively today

Today, I finished my three-point perspective drawing, coloured with chalk pastels and conte´crayon, my "Escher" project, for drawing class. I will post a photo when it is on the easel for critique at class on Tuesday afternoon on February 2.
Epic experience! I must have spent close to 20 hours on this project, figuring out perspective, using my geometry tools and calculator to do all the figuring, then, as my instructor said, using my artist's eye. Still many errors, but I am finally satisfied that it is ready for submission this coming Tuesday. It is worth 20% of our term mark. I really don't care about marks, except as they report success in mastering the material. I am in the class to learn, and it is a great privilege to be taking this class and have all the time in the world to do the homework exercises. Education is wasted on the young? - well not wasted, as my university years in my twenties were truly wonderful, but it is really something special to be able to study again at my age of 62, and know that I can learn and love it.

Here is a continuous line drawing, using my newly acquired perspective skills, of our living room fireplace.

And after I finished my homework this afternoon, I worked some more on my Floating Squares/ Yellow Pond Lily quilt. I spent some time juggling the main flower and leaf motifs, and now I am filling in with background fabric.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Flowers, we have flowers in the garden - on January 28!

Floating Squares aka Yellow Pond Lily quilt in progress

I am a member of Sherri Lynn Wood's Facebook group based on her book:  The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters. The group has a plan to work through the ten scores this year, 2016, each participant making a quilt from each score.
This is just the kind of motivation and structure that works for me, so I am in. I have also offered to "guide the conversation" for one of the scores, later in the year after my drawing course is done.
Although I am very happy to make quilts purely based on colour and form, I particularly like taking an aspect of nature as inspiration. When I looked at score #1, Floating Squares, I thought of the yellow pond lilies that grow in the marsh at the Inner Island Nature Reserve. Although they are very deeply rooted in the soil under the marsh, the flowers and leaves float on the water surface. The only photo I have is of the leaves only, before the blossoms, so here is a photo cribbed from the internet.

Today I curated fabric for the quilt, decided on a size (48 inches square), and began the ruler free cutting of the squares. It is a hard habit to break, not to reach for the ruler!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Complex perspective drawing

Okay, kicking it up a notch. This week, our homework assignment in drawing class is to draw a set of stairs in three-point perspective, both looking up from an ant's eye view, to looking down, a bird's eye view. Once we get both drawings done correctly, we are going to join them together into one composition.
Three-point perspective means that not only do the lines of convergence go back into the picture plane, but also up (or down) with the inclined plane of the stairs. Complicated, yes, but actually a fun challenge to figure out. Our teacher is calling is an Escher project.
I am drawing the ladder stairway that goes up into the loft in our cottage/studio. The ladder stairway has indented steps, like a ship's ladder I believe, to allow it to be very steep, yet your knee does not bump into the step above. You climb it and descend like regular stairs, but you must start with the right foot, and hold onto the stair rails. It works very well. And it is so very beautiful. Our house designer builder, Etienne de Villiers, designed and built the ladder stairway twenty years ago, from beautiful red cedar, and I think of it as functional sculpture.

Sketchbook work. Lots and lots of sighting, and measuring and using the calculator - whew!

Here is the beautiful stairway heading up into the loft.

Edge of the Forest exhibit in Calgary

The Surface Design Association of Canada's travelling exhibit, Edge of the Forest, is currently on display in Calgary at the the Fish Creek Branch of Calgary Public Library.
Conveniently, this is the closest library to my family in Calgary. Today my daughter-in-law took the two children to visit the library, and sent me these lovely pictures of my art piece, Cedar Forest, on display. I have blurred the faces of the kids, which makes them look like weird Waldorf dolls, but I think that you can still see what lovely children they are!

Hmmm, I am rather disappointed with the hanging bar at the top which distorts not only mine, but other pieces. It certainly interrupts the flow of the stitching as it soars to the top of the tall cedar tree. On the other hand, I am very pleased that my piece is at eye level, as I like viewers to look at my art up close so they can appreciate the detailed stitch patterns.

Very lovely children, especially in real life when they have faces. But online, they are faceless.

Doesn't this look like a lovely library scene, with teenagers studying together?

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Traditional quilt piecing

I finished the centre piecing of this traditional quilt, a Gai Perry design. I love how the nine-patches glow like jewels.
Next I will add a series of narrow and wider straight borders to bring this to a useful size.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Two-point perspective, success!!!

Fist pump, fist pump!
After spending over 7 hours on Sunday working on my homework assignment of the two-point perspective drawing of a chair, vanishing points extended to sheets of newsprint taped to the back of my drawing paper, up and down from the easel to the table to extend lines of convergence, much agonizing over angles, etc. - I did it!
Today in week 3 of Drawing II we went round the room, critiquing the 20 drawings that students had completed. We got to mine near the end. Instructor says, "of all the drawings here, only Jean has achieved the perspective exactly right". Stars, fireworks, a hug from a lovely young student who told me I was the MVP - so wonderful.
Constructive criticism from the instructor was that the floor does not work quite right, and that I should tone it down and shade the back of the floor to one quiet tone.
Next two weeks, three-point perspective. Onward, onward.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Drawing II, class 2: homework done!

Quelle journee´! I have spent ALL day, and I mean from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm, with about 20 minutes off for lunch, in my studio working on my drawing. A great day, but now my back is killing me and I am exhausted, but in a good way. I really learned a lot from this exercise!
The homework for  this week was to do two sketches in our sketchbook of a chair, in one-point and two-point perspective, then to do a full size drawing sheet (3' x 2') drawing of the chair in perspective, to add a background either real or imaginary, and then to colour the drawing with chalk pastels showing tonal values and demonstrating creativity - whew!
I showed the sketchbook drawing in an earlier post.
Here is today's work, the drawing in two-point perspective and then the colouring with chalk pastel.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Perspective drawing homework

This semester in Drawing level II, we learn perspective for the first half of the term, and human figure proportion for the second half.
Homework this week is to sketch a chair in one and two-perspective drawings, and then I need to do a full size drawing of the chair and colour it with chalk pastels.
Here is the sketch in two-perspective mode:

Another basket, from my past . .

I visited a friend last week who brought to my attention a basket of mine that she has owned for some time, that received compliments from her family over the holidays.
What a delight to see this basket again, as I think that it must be one of the nicest that I made during my basket making days, maybe about 5 years ago? I know that the god's eye and weavers are handmade cordage from three kinds of iris, starting with find for the god's eye and getting coarser as the basket took shape. I wonder what I used for that beautiful coiled handle - maybe willow, or perhaps wild honeysuckle? It inspires me to achieve that mastery of the craft again.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

A basket completed

Our informal basketry group has started meeting again, once a month at the Denman Island Arts Centre.
I have not made a basket in a long time, so I started small and used commercially made seagrass for the weaving.
Next basket I will make my own cordage as I was wont to do in the past. I think that the handles are made from some willow that Marilyn gave me last fall that I let dry wound in a circle in a bucket, to get that nice uniform shape.

King tide today

At this time of year, and again in June, the ocean tides are particularly high, known as "King Tides". Here is a link from the British Columbia environment ministry.

I took these photos at 8:15 this morning just as the tide was coming to its highest point. I was standing at the landing on our short flight of stairs down to the beach. The canoe is not actually floating, which it has done during previous king tides when there has been a strong wind and the water has risen even higher. Today has been beautifully calm with the water very still.
A friend, who came over to knit with me this morning in my studio, and I were delighted to watch two mature bald eagles swooping balletically together down to just touch the water and back up soaring again. They did not seem to be fishing, just playing, maybe pair bonding? Their white heads and tail feathers glinted in the sunshine.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Denman Island Quilters first meeting of 2016

We had a wonderful meeting this morning, twenty-five quilters meeting and greeting and best of all, show and tell.
I had two quilts to show, my Blue Dreams quilt that I recently finished, and my Pink Roses quilt that I have been hand quilting through 100% cotton batting (don't do it - trust me, only wool batting for hand quilting!!!) off and on (more off than on) for about 7 years. Now that I have a 6 year old granddaughter, I have motivation to finish this lovely but very intense project. I am aiming for her eighth birthday, although one suggestion at the meeting this morning was to aim for her high school grad. We will see . . .

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Snow today

Today was the first class of my drawing course at North Island College, Fine Arts 111 Drawing and 2-Dimensional Language II.
We will be studying perspective for the first half of the term, and we were supposed to be having a slide show and lecture on Escher, but by afternoon it was snowing heavily, so the class was cut short and we all headed home.
Traffic was slow and careful on the lower road to the ferry, but still two cars had gone off the road - eek.
Now that I am home safe and sound and leftovers are warming up in the oven, the view outside to the snow is very pretty with Christmas outdoor lights still shining along the arbour fence.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Activities today

I machine washed in cold water, and air only machine dried my Blue Dreams quilt. I was not sure how much the wool batting would shrink, but I think the final result is just fine. The quilt overall is softer, and if I want a more finished look then I can iron it.
Detail of the free motion quilting with the Hobbs wool batting, after machine washing in cold water and air only (no heat) machine drying.

The Denman Island Craft shop is closed for January and all inventory was removed. I decided to donate these six linen place mats to a fundraising auction for a local woman with Lyme's Disease. I hope they raise some money for this very worthy cause.

I checked my inventory of cards at Abraxas Books, and I had sold 3 of my initial stock of 15. I added 10 more, so there are now 23 cards on the rack. Raised the price to $2.50 per card.

Then, I went for a walk in the glorious sunshine.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

"Tree of Life" wall hanging completed

I have not officially titled this piece yet, but "Tree of Life" seems appropriate. I still think that the bark markings on the tree look like women's breasts, and I want to reference that obliquely.

I hand dyed the cotton fabric, then drew with my sewing machine, and machine embroidered the details. I painted with textile markers, and finally beaded. The piece is backed with heavy silk burlap fabric, and narrowly bound in dark brown. It has a hanging sleeve, and just needs a label. I am thinking that I will show it at the Vancouver Island Surface Design Association show planned for July 2016.
Current Threads 2016, VISDA, Tulista Gallery, Sidney BC, July 18 - 31, 2016