“I create art for the adventure of inviting my artist outside to play and surprise me. I design, quilt, paint and draw to please the inner me and bring a smile to my face as I get caught up in the process of creating. For me, it is all about the journey and seeing what I am going to do next, it is the mystery that keeps me passionate about what I do. I believe that if you do your work of creativity with the intent of having fun and discovery, those that view your work will enjoy it too but that goal is only secondary to pleasing myself.”
Mary Lou Donahue Weidman began quilting with her Maternal Grandmother. Mary Lou’s Father was an artist and musician and encouraged creativity and to look at the world in a curious, positive way. Color, texture, shapes and composition were discussed at an early age and any drawing, coloring ,painting or crafts of the day was encouraged. Painting was my Dad’s number one love and he passed this along to me. After taking Fine Arts in school and selling both oil paintings on canvas and posters of girls in bikini’s to fraternity boys, Mary Lou graduated and did layout work for the city newspaper, store windows, rodeo billboards, and other avenues in art. All of this with three small children in tow and the dream owning an art studio and doing what I really wanted….to grow in my discovery of art.
After spending time with my son at home while he went through many cancer treatments over a five year period, I longed to go back to painting and to do a folk art style. My son got better and I had started quilting alot while he was in the hospital though I still kept drawing pads close and did both painting and drawing at home. Around 1988, I started teaching story quilts which I had discovered quite by accident. It was through this discovery that I realized that quilters have the opportunity to tell the world who they are and what and who they love. These quilts will surely be the ones to be studied in the future as they tell about people today and the details of their lives. What does your artwork tell about YOU? And once you die, what will your memory be and how long will that last? A quilt can last for hundreds of years and you have the opportunity to tell your story and to put in pieces of Grandma’s dresses, old table cloths, handwork, watch, necklace or earrings. I have done all of these and you can do the same with your things, your Aunts things, your best friends things, your husbands things and so it goes on and on.
Now I am at a new place in my art life. I am painting again on fabric and I am piecing alot and appliquing and stretching and not doing the same things over and over. I know that I am truly an artist and as a nun who was one of my best art teachers said “good art doesn’t need a description next to it, it either works or it doesn’t.” My art works and I work hard to make it work. It is my passion and will be until I pass.
Mary Lou has written five quilting books for Martingale and C&T, owns a pattern company, has designed fabric for 14 years and 10 of that for Benartex, represents Bernina (she loves these machines),has written many booklets and has taught all across the US (she is missing 2 states only), Canada and 8 countries.
Teaching people how to get OUT of the Box is also a passion. I find that many quilters follow the herd and I love it when I can show them how to be a stray and how to have a passion that over-rides criticism. Many people who announce they are artists keep doing the same thing over and over. Easy, sloppy, quick work is not my idea of art. After all what does it say once it is done? I love what I do and it is my belief that God continues HIS creativity through us, the artists. The journey is what it is about not the destination (the final product). What are you learning and are you growing? I know I am. You really don’t see with your eyes until your eyes start to see like an artist and this is so true in textile art as well as painting, drawing or sculpture. So for me I will continue seeing things clearer and keep stretching and keep enjoying the journey as I take those who have the passion for art along with me and we can discover together.