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.

Saturday, February 27, 2016


If you want to get something done, give it to a busy person to do!
Today I got up at 7 am, and then, after showering and eating breakfast I made notes and a colour wheel in the book of gessoed art papers that I have created to contain notes on colour theory for my art class.
The morning light was amazingly beautiful on a very calm mirror-like see, so I took a couple of photos as inspiration for my water motif works in progress.

By 8:15 I was in the studio writing with a nib pen and India ink on the gessoed pages from old books that I plan on using for my art quilt for submission to the upcoming Surface Design Association show, Transgressing Traditions. The submission deadline is March 4 and I am just starting my piece. We will see if I get it done in time :-)
Then I put a length of white cotton into a blue dye bath so that I can make the sky in the "Reflections in a Rocky Pool" quilt.
I cut 64 strips, 2 " wide, to make two more bargello pieced lengths for my "Ocean Currents" quilt. Well, I cut all but 12 of the strips, because I had to get back to the house to pack my lunch for my day's activities.
By 10 am I was at the local school for an all day tai chi workshop. We were booked for 10 to 4, with a lunch break, but I left after the 3 pm break as my right foot was starting to cramp.
When I got home I popped back into the studio to rinse out my blue fabric, plan the layout for the SDA quilt, cut the last 12 strips, tidy up a bit, and iron some fabric.
Tomorrow I have to move some projects along, and then clean up and vacate the studio while my brother comes to stay for a week and enjoy the amazing phenomenon of the annual herring spawn and all the associated bird and marine life.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Art quilt progress: "Reflections in a Rocky Pool"

I had such a fun and productive day today, starting to assemble the large puzzle pieces that will make up my planned art quilt, tentatively titled "Reflections in a Rocky Pool".  It is going to be a full size quilt, about 80" by 60" in measurements, or thereabouts.
I strip pieced brown fabrics for the trees, and then cut gentle curves with green fabrics for the piecing of the tree shapes against the green background. I added more dark grey hexagons, that is more "rocks" around the edge of the pool shape. I am somewhat disappointed with how the pool does not stand out enough; there is not enough contrast between the green background fabrics and the dark grey rocks.

Mid-term art class critique

I previously posted about the progress of my mid-term drawing for my art class at

Yesterday was an interesting day as I first attended a noon time lecture by Lois Klassen, a Vancouver based artist and administrative staff member at Emily Carr University of Art and Design in Vancouver.  I was particularly interested in her SloFemists embroidery project in 2015.

At 1 pm it was back to the art studio for the mid-term drawing critique. I was designated to start the critique of this atmospheric perspective work by a fellow student:

She has also painted a bigger version on canvas with acrylic paint, which was very beautiful.

Here is the final version of my drawing, which I think I am calling "Portrait of a Bookcase".
The instructor recommended that I add a warmer yellow tone to the overhead light fixture.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Two art quilts under construction: "Ocean Currents" and "Sea View"

Today I worked on two art quilts: that is, one large quilt and one small wall hanging.

The larger quilt is tentatively titled "Ocean Currents" and is a bargello style pieced panel. I finished the piecing today, and now I have to decide how to proceed. I tried a vertical view, from both ends, to see if it looked like a waterfall, but I still think that ocean currents is the best representational interpretation.

The wall hanging will feature machine and hand embroidery. I also want to use some of the perspective techniques that I have learned in art class.

This is my planning sketch for the embroidered wall hanging.
The fabrics are pieced with curved seams, and

the sand area of the beach is machine
The machine embroidery is 

complete, and I have thread
traced the tree shape for
hand embroidery.

Detail of thread tracing.
Detail of machine embroidery.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Yellow Pond-Lily quilt is complete

I finished the machine quilting of the Yellow Pond-Lily quilt. The Hobbs wool batting was a dream to quilt. Such fantastic stitch definition! I found the perfect backing fabric at the West Vancouver Fabricland closing out sale last month.

Detail of the quilting, showing water bubbles,  and of the binding.

Another detail of the quilting showing water bubbles and leaves.

Detail of the back showing binding.

The back of the quilt. You can see on the upper left the pond-lily quilting motif.

Detail of the back showing the leaf motif quilting.

The completed quilt. It is approximately 52 inches square.

Piecing "Ocean Currents"

New work in progress, "Ocean Currents".

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Colouring my mid-term drawing

My mid-term independent drawing for my NIC Fine Arts 111 class has to show linear perspective (lines converging on a vanishing point) and atmospheric perspective via colour. The critique will take place this coming Tuesday, February 23.
The medium that works best on the drawing paper supplied by the college is chalk pastels. They are a challenge to work with, so I bought some conte´ crayons to see if they would make less chalk dust. Well, maybe. There was still a lot of chalk dust to deal with today.
Here is the work so far. I need to do the light fixture on the ceiling, which I do not know how to do, and work on my shading and cast shadows. Hard, hard work - many, many hours of work - but very rewarding. I love the discipline of the college course, as I would never apply myself like this otherwise.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Working on my mid-term drawing

Next Tuesday, February 23, is mid-term exam day for my NIC drawing class, Fine Arts 111.
We need to create a full page (24" by 36") drawing, showing the use of perspective and atmospheric colour.
I like the design of a one-point perspective view down a hallway, so I chose to do the central hallway in our house with book shelves on one side.
I worked on sketches over the past week, and yesterday and today I scaled up my sketches and transferred them to drawing paper, then inked the drawing with India ink and a nib pen.

Transferring the sketch to the drawing paper. The scale was multiplied by 3.

The drawing has been inked and is ready for colour.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Artistic Tuesday

This morning I auditioned fabrics for my planned art quilt, tentatively titled "Reflections in a Rocky Pool".

In the afternoon I went to art class at NIC. Today's class was on atmospheric perspective using colour. We all drew a cardboard box in two-point perspective, with auxiliary perspective for the flaps on the box, then used chalk pastels for the shading. It was a very useful class, and it is amazing how wonderful a cardboard box can look as art :-)

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Free motion quilting the Yellow Pond-Lily quilt

I have a lovely puffy Hobbs wool batting sandwiched into this quilt. I have realized that the batting comes out of the bag very creased, so if I put into the rinse cycle in the washing machine with cold water on Delicates, then air dry in the clothes dryer, it becomes uncreased and puffy and lovely to work with.
Look at the fantastic stitch definition that is being created here. Hmm, have to work on my photos . . .
I am about 1/2 done the quilting.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Student art show at the college

On Wednesday I helped to hang the art for the student show at NIC, and this afternoon I helped to take it down.
I entered two textile pieces, based on continuous line drawings.

Between times, I went into Vancouver for book club, drew a perspective sketch on the ferry ride home, and worked on my colour wash quilt.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Meet the Artists at the Ferry Building Gallery

Saturday afternoon was the Meet the Artists reception at the Love in Any Language show at the Ferry Building Gallery in West Vancouver.
Warning, picture heavy post!
The Ferry Building Gallery in West Vancouver.

My art piece in the show, titled Happy Together.

Me, the happy artist.

Three photos of family and friends at the show.

Some examples of works in the show by other artists:

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Yellow pond-lily quilt based on Sherri Lynn Wood's Floating Squares score

Today I finished the main piecing of this improvised quilt, although I think that I will add some more darker grey pieces along the edges to even it up and for the perspective look of the edges of the pond.

I know that I want to do something quite creative with the quilting. I think that I will do representational shapes of pond-lily flowers and leaves, in yellow and green threads where appropriate, and then probably concentric circles, like ripples after a dropped stone in the water, on the water areas. Probably grey thread for the ripples.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Drawing class: three-point perspective

The class assignment was to draw a set of stairs (or other structure) going up and going down, then to put these two views together into one composition, and colour with chalk pastels.
I chose to do the ladder stairs that go up to the loft in my studio. They are steep and have indented treads so that knees don't bump on the way up.

I did a number of studies in my sketchbook, and pages of detailed calculations. I needed extra paper taped to the top of my working page to allow for the extension of the auxiliary and central vanishing points. To think that two weeks ago I did not know what those terms meant and how to use them - wow, what it is to get a chance to learn!

Here is the final result with background details and coloured and shaded. Note that I did this composition from a different angle than is shown in the photo above. There are some problems and possible improvements for sure, but it was well received in the class critique today.

This piece is by a fellow student. She chose to draw her barn from two points of view, then to cut out the two view and collage them. Very effective!