Jean was an artist and designer who infused all she did with spirit, color, and beauty. Throughout her life she looked for new ways to develop and apply her talents and learn new skills, exploring and excelling at a wide range of interests cooking, painting, printmaking, decorating, gardening, and designing and making clothes. Her art won awards and was exhibited in Boston and Cincinnati; she showed and sold her clothes throughout the Northeast.
She was born in Pensacola, Florida, to Julia S. Brown and George W. Ellenburg. Julia came from a pioneering aviation family in Georgia. George was a Navy pilot who served in the Pacific theater during World War II; he later designed rockets and jet engines for General Electric and Westinghouse.
After a childhood spent at Navy bases from Florida to Hawaii, Jean graduated from Manhattanville College in 1962 with a B.A. in English. She was a generous and fun-loving friend as eager to start new friendships as she was to maintain others of more than 40 years. As wife, mother, and grandmother, she instilled in her family her passion for life, creativity, and learning, demonstrating her values by simultaneously raising her five sons and completing her second degree, a B.F.A. from the Art Academy of Cincinnati in 1988. It was there when Jean adopted a photorealist approach to printmaking. Selecting imagery from photographs taken herself - often in her lovingly tended backyard garden, she manipulated and combined them in carefully designed compositions, incorporating borders, inset details, and bold contrasts of shape and value.
Ann Miotke, Jean's painting professor says: Jean's work was intense. Jean was always open to new approaches in composition. She did very interesting things in her etchings and lithographs with borders, with combinations of printmaking and watercolor, and with newer processes, such as blind embossment (an inkless raised image), viscosity printing (utilizing an oil-in-water emulsion), collagraphy (incorporating textural materials and objects on a cardboard printing plate, sealed with polymer medium), and aquatint (a line drawing etched into a metal plate, sprinkled with an acid-resist rosin powder dipped and stopped in an acid bath).
When she and her husband Blase moved to Hingham, MA in 1989, she quickly settled into the community. Among other things, she served as a Eucharistic Minister at St. Paul 's Church, a volunteer at the Hingham Public Library, and a board member at the Hingham Historical Society. She also continued her artwork, which she showed primarily at the Copley Society in Boston and the South Shore Art Center in Cohasset. Her award-winning etchings and lithographs emphasized organic forms often seashells and flowers whose patterns she saw as a metaphor for human relationships. In recent years she designed limited-edition clothes for toddlers and infants under the label Puffin n' Peas.
Jean died in Massachusetts General Hospital after a six-week battle with Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome. Her gifts and spirit shone even in her sudden illness; she touched the staffs of two hospitals and proved herself to be remarkably strong, resilient, and tenacious. She was an exuberant woman and a true dynamo.
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