Playing with Colour

‘Colourplay’ is the latest series by a group of twelve talented quilt artists who have collaborated from across the globe. Twelve By Twelve (as they call themselves) were brought together in 2007 through the blog world by a common desire to expand their individual artistic abilities, to learn from others and to grow through play and experimentation. Their latest works will be on show at the AQC in Melbourne on April 18-21, 2013.

PTina, Terri Stegmiller The Pointy End, Kirsten Duncan Harakeke, Brenda Gael Smith
It was originally the brainchild of Diane, who tells it like this. “At a local quilt show I saw a collection of small journal quilts made by a group of five women who challenged each other with different themes. When I started thinking about how I could be part of such a group, it occurred to me that through the blogs I read regularly, I already knew of quilt artists whose work inspired me. I took a leap of faith and emailed eleven women, nine of whom I didn’t know at all except from their blogs, and asked if they’d want to play in a challenge group. They agreed and we were off and running” she said.
Summer in Japan, Françoise Jamart Cultivate Choice, Kristin La Flamme Streaming Blue, Karen Rips
The twelve artists are:    
Deborah Boschert – Maryland USA Gerrie Congdon – Portland Oregon USA Helen Conway – UK
Kirsten Duncan – Nth Qld Australia Terry Grant – Portland Oregon USA Diane Perin Hock – California USA
Françoise Jamart – Belgium Kristen La Flamme – Virginia USA Karen Rips – California USA
Brenda Gael Smith-Copacabana Australia Terri Stegmiller -North Dakota USA Nikki Wheeler – Washington USA
Contributors quilt pieces are always positioned in the same place
Mosaic for ‘Chartreuse’ colour palette

The collection is presented in twelve collaborative quilt ‘mosaics’, each comprised of twelve. Each Twelve’s work is always located in the same position in the mosaic presentation. For example, Deborah Boschert’s work is always in the top left-hand corner and so on. In this way, it is possible to track the work of each individual artist through the series.

Through their online communication they challenged themselves to a ‘Theme’ Series of works, which is now showcased in their book Twelve by Twelve: The International Art Quilt Challenge. Then in 2009 they commenced their ‘Colour Play’ Challenge where a colour or palette of colours was set for each challenge rather than a theme word. The artists sequentially nominated a palette, commencing with (Diane’s choice) Pink, and two years and twelve colours later the series was complete.

As you can imagine, inspiration for their individual interpretations on these colours was drawn from each artist’s life-experiences which are as varied as the world is large. Kristin chose a palette of red, orange, chartreuse, black and grey reflecting her then island home and named after Hawaii’s active volcano – Kilauea. Testament to the power of suggestion, and the lingering word-inspired design processes of the first series, many of the Twelves went on to create volcanic themed works. But by the time Nikki announced the seventh challenge with an ‘Eggplant’ palette of emerald, deep purple and burgundy, the Twelves had really got into the swing of Colourplay and there was not an aubergine in sight.

Kirsten from North Queensland said “To begin with a palette that was defined by someone else was a real challenge!”. Her interpretation on chartreuse came from a tediously long wet tropical summer full of algae bloom, so she named it ‘Slimeball’!

While Nikki was experiencing all things kids, her colour of choice – Eggplant was inspired by Emperor Zurg from Pizza Planet. In case you’ve not experienced the joys of animated children’s movies, this is a reference to Toy Story. The Orange palette was Terry from Portland Oregon’s colour of choice and her wild, untamed garden full of orange lilies her inspiration. However Gerrie, also from Portland, Oregon was prompted by an entirely different Orange reference, and used her creative licence to recreate a surf poster which hung in her living room when she was newly married. Françoise unified her own personal Colourplay series with common elements of composition and a focus on landscapes in many of her pieces.


The artists found more challenges getting creative with colours they wouldn’t normally choose and might not necessarily like. Terry from Oregon, USA:”As I have often stated, I am not a pink person. Ugh. Yuck. Pink. But when we decided on colour as a general theme for this next round of twelve, I just knew I was going to have to confront pink at some point. But I didn’t expect it to be the first thing!”

While they experienced a slow start, the six week timeframe for each piece soon kicked it into full swing. Each artist worked independently on their pieces and at a certain point in the process they would ‘reveal’ them online to the group. This was an exciting moment for them as a team, almost as exciting as sharing the final collection with the public.

Brenda summarised it like this: “It has been so much fun to see the mosaics come together. It showed us our work had become larger than the sum of its parts.”

Come and check it out at the AQC in April – be inspired!


Colourplay – the international exhibition by twelve quilters from Australia, Belgium, UK and USA will now be shown at the Rosehill Stitches & Craft Show with a floortalk by Brenda Gael Smith at 12noon on the Sunday (March 10, 2013).

For more about Twelve by Twelve visit their website

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