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.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Commissions and community art

I have made a bunny on commission for a customer,


and a tea cozy as a door prize for a community organization's annual general meeting, the Denman Community Land Trust Association. Of course the tea cozy is in the shape of a house.


I was inspired by the spring arrival of Pacific Chorus Frogs, Pseudacris regilla,  to make two items for the Denman Conservancy Association's Frog Festival. When I step out in the evening, the frogs' songs are really loud, coming from the wetlands at either end of our road. Such a beautiful special sound.
The small stuffed frog was made from scrap fabric that had already been pieced for another project, and the resulting effect is a happy accident.



I drew the embroidery design onto a piece of linen with a black Sharpie pen, using an image that I enlarged in black and white. I cut out the image, traced around it, then added a few internal detail lines, such as the eye and feet. I chose my embroidery threads and stitches as I went along, and I have to say that I am thrilled with the result. I wrapped the linen around a 11x14" canvas that I picked up from Michaels - the canvas is too poor quality to paint on, but fine for mounting fabric.








Wednesday, April 13, 2016

College art class final

Our North Island College FIN111 drawing class final was yesterday afternoon. I met the instructor for my portfolio review at 11:30 am, and to pick up my sketchbook which I had handed in the week before.

At noon I zipped off for a quick fabric acquisition session at Fabricland to get fabrics for my wings, then back to the college to get a coffee and butter tart to sustain me for the afternoon session.

At 1 pm the instructor began the class with announcements and guidelines for the critiques of our art works. Eighteen works were pinned to the wall, all at exhibition height. (The class started with 25 students, so 7 must have dropped out during the semester). Of the eighteen works, one student had only done an unfinished pencil sketch - sad to see that he did not complete his work in time for the critique.

The guidelines were to use a full size (36" x 24") sheet of drawing or painting paper, use a drawing technique that we had learned in class, show mark making and use colour. Perspective not required  - show creativity.

I have been enraptured by David Hockney's tree tunnel paintings, so I attempted my own, of our driveway, looking up towards the road. I used oil pastels, lots of lamp oil to blend, and graphite pencil.

My own version of "Spring Tree Tunnel".

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Making wings


 After viewing many Youtube videos, pondering Pinterest pictures, and browsing websites, I have made the armature for wings for my upcoming art project, and I am VERY proud of myself.

I started by hand drawing wing shapes on a large piece of newsprint, 24 inches long. I was going to buy wire, but by chance J. had a coil of wire in the garage that turned out to be the perfect gauge. I created the wing shapes, following my sketch, and twisted the wire ends together at the top.

Then, thanks to a website (that I cannot retrieve to add the link, as I looked at so many), I had the idea to put chicken wire inside the wire shapes. Off to the hardware store for chicken wire and wire snips.

It worked like a charm! I treated the chicken wire like fabric, rolling it out and cutting it roughly to shape, then snipping the small wires and winding them around the heavier wire frame.

I discovered in my scrap box of bindings that I had metres of narrow cotton muslin bias binding leftover from some project, and it was perfect to wrap the wire frame to cover up all the snagging and poking wire ends from the chicken wire, and to give me something to sew the fabric cover for the wings. I got that idea from my experience of wrapping wire frames when covering lampshades.

Ta da! I think these are already really great, but I will cover with, what? : tulle, organza?

Wire frame wings, with chicken wire filling in the shapes, and edge wires twisted but still snagging on my sweater, my hands, and everything else.

The wire frame wrapped with strips of bias cut muslin.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Now what is she making ????

I am keeping this art proposal to myself for the time being, as I don't know if I should venture that high - but "nothing ventured, nothing gained"! So I am working on this self-portrait in 3-D surreal form, and we will see if it works out, and if so, I will enter it, and then we will see ......

I love the legs and toes.
Note the slightly dumpy figure - this may be the most accurate part of the self portrait.  
These are arms under construction.

This beaded face is actually based on a self-portrait that I did in chalk pastel for my drawing class, but I know that I made the mouth too big, so we are going with a metaphorical representation of the personal trait that I like to talk, so my mouth is a large part of my face. I am trying to decide if I should add elfin ears - I think that I might to raise the surreal aspect.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Gathering at the Edge

I got home yesterday afternoon from The Gathering at the Edge in Colwood, to celebrate the Surface Design Canada exhibition Edge of the Forest arriving in the Victoria area of British Columbia.
It was a wonderful event, beautifully organized, and particularly great for getting to know my textile art colleagues.

Here I am in front of a blurry picture of my piece, titled "Cedar Forest".

The beautiful grounds at Royal Roads University.

Lesley Turner teaching Bengala dyeing in the forest at Royal Roads.

My piece in good company on the wall at the Coast Collective Gallery in Colwood.

Shamina Senaratne, editor of the Surface Design BC newsletter, and fellow textile artist, in front of her piece at the show.




Driving home on Sunday morning, view from the Malahat highway.