Dorothy Riley

Dorothy Joan Riley was born in 1951 in San Francisco, the second of five daughters to a military career man and a German war bride. The childhood years she best remembers are those that she lived in Germany and the first few years after her family returned to America to the Cincinnati area. These localities nearly burst at the seams with artists and strongly influenced her love of art. Despite displaying a talent early in life, both parents discouraged her from pursuing an artistic career. Her mother believed artists were a rather Bohemian lot while her father urged her to explore roles and occupations regarded as “nontraditional” for women. Her earliest work experiences include working with a plumbing construction crew and joining the Army, but her love of art never diminished. While in the Army, she painted murals of the Air Defense weapon systems for a Battalion Headquarter and painted crests and cartoons for visiting dignitaries. After the birth of her sons, pursuing art was not a viable option. Art became her hobby, her escape from the pressures of supporting two children. She taught herself Bauernmalerei, a European form of tole painting, and for many years, used this skill to create gifts for friends and family. In 1990, she earned a Master of Social Work degree from the University of South Florida and as a clinical therapist, used art and art therapy in her work with clients. Dorothy Riley coped with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and clinical depression for most of her life, however, after 2001, she was no longer able to work. Riley resolved to teach herself fine art painting, specifically, oil painting. Art restored her focus and sense of purpose and brought passion back into her life. Within a few years, Riley was earning awards for her art including several Public Service Awards. Some of her works are located in the Coast Guard Fine Art Collection and at the West Virginia Division of Culture and History Museum. To Riley, being an artist means rediscovering some small part of herself and the world around her nearly every day.