Saturday, September 03, 2016

The Twelves: Where are they now?!

Hello, Twelve by Twelve friends!  Diane here.

Remember us?! It's been a long time since we last posted on this blog, but as today -- September 4 -- is exactly 9 years since we first posted on this blog, we thought an update was in order.  Brenda had the idea of our posting about what we've been doing since we ended our collaborative quilt adventure, and we agreed that each of us would take a day and tell you what we have been up to.

One thing is for sure: what started as a small, personal art challenge turned into something that took us places we never imagined we'd go. It brought us new friendships, amazing opportunities, and such fun adventures as we watched (and occasionally followed) our quilts as they traveled around the world.

So the rosy glow of our 5-year adventure still makes me smile, with pleasure and real gratitude.

For me, the last 3 and a half years since we finished our challenges have seen quite a few changes.  My art quilt making has slowed considerably (I'm going to maintain that it hasn't ground to a halt -- I'm just taking a break. A long break.) I'm not sure why my interest turned to making contemporary traditional quilts and modern quilts, but it did. And I'd had fun, making quilts for no particular reason. Here's one I finished recently, made from selvedges I've been saving over quite a few years:

I have also taken a bit of detour into drawing and painting, which continues to be a surprise and a pleasure. I've taken a load of online classes, mainly to make myself have to paint regularly. And I've found, as many of the teachers have promised, that the simple act of painting every day really has made me better.  Most recently, I took a great class from an idol, Roz Stendahl, on drawing life creatures from life -- which meant a month of drawing people and animals. Great fun, and I think it did get me past the anxiety of drawing things that insist on moving.

I also looped back to an old passion for handmade books and started making them again which was like reconnecting with an old friend after many years.  I got so involved making them that I started up an Etsy shop where I add books for sale from time to time. My books aren't traditional -- I call them "jumbly journals," in a sort of crazy quilt/collage style mix of papers and contents that some people call junk journals. They are fun to make and I go through periods where I make books obsessively.  I've made a few commissions too, which has been great fun.

During these last few years, I started judging quilt shows which has been very fun. It probably sounds corny, but I consider it a true privilege to be trusted with the task of looking at the quilt someone has slaved over with love and passion and so much time, and I take the responsibility of providing feedback very seriously. I especially love judging art quilts, and educating quilt guilds and show-runners about the importance of judging art quilts on art principles and not just on the technical parts of quilt making.

In my personal life, I've seen a fair number of changes. My sweet dog Gemma (who was my model for the "Lorikeet" challenge in the color challenge series) succumbed to back problems about 18 months ago. She was such a lovely dog, but it was time to let her go. For the longest time, I found an odd consolation in the bits of dog hair I seemed to find around the house no matter how well I cleaned!

After about a year and a half of dog-free living, I decided that I was ready to add a new member to the family -- an adorable English Cream golden retriever puppy named Starlie. (I figured another black dog would be too much a reminder of Gemma, so I went in the direction of a white dog.) She is just 12 weeks old as I write this, and is a total sweetheart. She's also hysterically funny in that floppy puzzled way that puppies have. I feel like the mom of a toddler again, so I'm spending a lot of time on the floor and out in the backyard chasing an endlessly energetic little creature. Not much art time right now!

My daughter Caroline, who was 11 when we started, is now just a few months' shy of 21. She's grown into a lovely young woman, with quick humor, sharp intelligence, and real gifts with art and with animals.

My marriage also ended in this interim period. Many of you have gone though a divorce, and know the odd ups and downs and  emotions that seem to pop up at unexpected moments. But life as a single woman feels very, very good, and I'm feeling a strong sense of peace and hope for what lies ahead.

I continue to stay connected to the Twelves. Just two weeks ago, I had Helen and her husband Dennis (known as Thirteen after his labors on our behalf when our quilts were at the Festive of Quilts in Birmingham some years back) as guests in my home. I've also had very fun visits with Terry (who came to Sonoma County where we talked endlessly and made books together), with Gerrie when I was up in Portland a while back, and with Brenda when she was in California visiting her husband's family. I know my paths will cross with the other Twelves one of these days, and I am particularly determined to meet Kirsten eventually.

So that's what's up with me.  Check in tomorrow to find out what's been going on with another Twelve!