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, December 30, 2017

Hand embroidery on linen, another wildflower

In my continuing exploration of hand embroidery materials I am coming to the conclusion that traditional materials are used traditionally for a reason - what a revelation :-).

Hence, I am moving on to embroidery on linen.

I purchased some lovely linen fabric, a natural coloured linen fabric from Japan from A Threaded Needle, online. Here is the description of the fabric:
A rich natural color with plenty of the sheen and the bounce you expect in 100% linen.  This fabric is medium weight with nice drape. The ruler in the photograph is in centimeters (25cm=1"), you can see that the texture is smooth and the weave is quite open so it will be easy to hand stitch.  Prewash, expect some shrink. Order by the half meter: 1 unit = 19.5" x 46", 2 units = 1 meter (39" x 46" wide).

I did not prewash the fabric, as I wanted to keep the crispness of the finish. I cut a piece about 8"x10" and serged the edges.

I sketched a loose image on paper of bittersweet vine, from Lewis Clark's Field Guide to Wild Flowers of Field and Slope in the Pacific Northwest:

I transferred the image to my linen fabric, not be tracing but by drawing again, referring both to my pencil sketch and to the original photograph. I used a permanent fine line fabric marking pen.

Pencil sketch.

Sketch on linen.

I'm just getting started doing the embroidery. I am using a hoop, which I don't usually do because it usually makes my hands fatigued, but I'll try this time in tune with the use of the linen fabric. Also, I am embroidering with just one strand of either sewing thread or cotton DMC floss, and a small hand sewing needle, a sharp.

Hand embroidery: birds

I used some copyright free lines drawings that I found online as the basis for these hand embroideries.

I traced the drawings using a permanent fine line fabric marking pen onto pre-shrunk natural muslin that I bought at my local Fabricland. I used the wonderful illustrations by David Allen Sibley in The Sibley Guide to Birds, first edition, as inspiration for my birds and colours. I was interpretative, and did not attempt to create an exact rendering of the plumage of each bird species.
I chose the Western Bluebird and Red Breasted Sapsucker.

I ironed the fabric pieces to wool batting that has a scrim so that it adheres to the muslin, then serged around all sides to keep it all neat and together. This substrate is so much easier to needle through than the stiff wool coating fabric that I used for my wildflower embroideries, but I am not sure that I like the puffiness around the birds.

Machine embroidery: Winter Wren Wood

I went for a walk a couple of weeks ago in Winter Wren Wood and took some photos of old moss covered cedar rail fences with Douglas Fir trees in the background.

I used this photo to create a machine embroidery. In the making process I learned lots of lessons along the way.

I started with raw 7 ounce unstretched painting canvas that I painted with very diluted acrylic inks. The canvas shrunk visibly as it was wet with the inks, which made applying the next areas difficult. Also, I had ironed the canvas into thirds and diagonals to place my image, and unfortunately the ink settled into these areas. Lesson learned to pre-shrink the canvas, and not to iron on placement lines. I painted in sections, letting each dry overnight so that I did not get wet paint bleeding between sections.

I began machine embroidering in straight lines on the unbacked canvas. It very soon began to distort quite a lot.

Once I discovered the magic of using the machine embroidery stitches of my Bernina 1530 sewing machine, I realized that I needed a backing. I did not have any stabilizer, so I improvised by using steam-a-seam to fuse wool coating fabric to the back of the piece. This worked extremely well, and will be a technique to use again. 

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Better pictures of abstract painting

These photos are from the final critique day in art class, on the studio wall with super bright lighting.

Embroidery of nature images

I have been doing embroidery again. Love it so much.

I ordered some wonderful floss onlines from Needle in a Haystack and Colour Complements, and I bought some perle cottons locally from The Needle Loft in Royston.

The drawing is a copyright free stock image. The colours are based on a photo of a deer in our yard that I edited to increase the chroma.

Gold on blue: final painting assignment for art class

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Abstract painting part 3 of 3

Many paint skins have been attached.

Now getting closer. My instructor suggested that I cross the lines and break up the regularity of the negative spaces at the bottom of the canvas.

The finished painting.

Abstract painting part 2

 Blogger doesn't seem to want to accept too many photos in one post, so here is part two of my abstract painting process. Part three will show the finished painting.
Painting inside the lines with Paynes Gray.

Removing the tape to reveal the clean edged lines.

The large canvas up against the wall and ready to being applying the paint skin pieces.

My set up in the studio with paint skins laid out, my reference photo for consultation, and the first paint skin pieces on the canvas.
A close up showing the fainter horizontal lines along the top right. These lines were applied with a Pitt India ink marker.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Abstract painting assignment part 1 of 3

This is the first part of my process documentation.
Our painting class assignment was to paint a large abstract work, inspired by a real life image.

Inspiration photograph of autumn leaves collected along the stairs of our deck. I cropped the photo and saturated the colours.

I built the 6 foot by 4 foot stretcher frame in the college art shop, then stretched the canvas and covered it with two coats of gesso.

I painted the entire surface and edges with several coats of blue paint.

I did some mathematical calculations to created spaces that increased in size across from left to right, and lines separating those spaces, with the lines also increasing in size. Also diagonal lines on the upper right. All drawn with graphite pencil and a long straight edge.

I taped along both sides of the pencil lines.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Collecting inspiration photos for my next painting class art piece

Yesterday was a glorious fall day. I walked along the beach, collecting inspiration photos for my next painting class art piece. I edited all of the pics in Iphoto, increasing the colour saturation and cropping.

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