My multi-talented and over-scheduled friend Patty Weidler was one of my biggest cheerleaders as I wrote my way through the Daily Shorty year. Patty is also a writer, and occasionally I’d ask her if she wanted to do a week of stories with me. “Soon,” she’d say, “just let me get past these next couple of projects.” As it happened, I’d finished my year when Patty decided to take me up on a Daily Shorty week. But she wanted to tackle TWO weeks, she told me, and she’d decided to write her stories with a sewing machine.
For two weeks in July, I sent encouraging e-mails to Patty as she made a piece of textile art every day. When I work with a writer, I can tailor advice to her experience and approach. But I have no training in visual art, so I didn’t have much in the way of tips for Patty. Instead I focused on what I know generally about the creative process, and I provided sustained encouragement and gentle accountability. I reminded her of her goals, sent the occasional inspiring quotation or poem, and of course checked in with her on how her day went, congratulating her always for showing up. When was the last time you made 3 pieces of art in 3 days? I asked on the evening of Day 3. Never! she replied.
Patty sent me a write-up of her reflections on her Daily Shorty challenge. Here’s an excerpt:
At first I had grandiose plans to maneuver fabric, paper, thread, and the written word together, expecting key words and reflections to be part of my creative process. I tried that on the first day, then let go of any thought of including writing in my Daily Shorty challenge. Clearly I was in visual mode. And soon I discovered that I hungered most to work with fabric in a quilting medium. I gave myself no constraints as to size, number of pieces of fabric used, or direction. Sometimes I would get an idea from something I saw the day before so that when I woke up, I knew approximately what sort of color or fabric with which I wished to begin. Other times I had no clue when I walked into my sewing room what I was going to make. After I finished each piece, I moved on to my job and regular life. Throughout the day I would think about how sweet and interesting the creative time had been that morning, notice how good I felt, and wonder what I would end up creating next.
Now I can ask, When was the last time you made 14 pieces of art in 14 days? And both Patty and I feel happily awash in color and texture. We’ve each chosen a favorite of her 2 weeks of work to display here, although I have to say that these pictures don’t begin to capture their beauty. Thank you, Patty, for sharing your process with me and for honoring us all with your art.