Dorothy Weil ~ writer and artist
JugglingStory and art
by Maureen (Mo)Conlan
Step into Dorothy Weil’s living room where a huge picture window frames a bend in the Ohio and you seem to be in the river.
The writer and artist lives with her husband of more than 50 years, Sidney, in a contemporary condo that overlooks the Ohio River.Sometimes it feels like being on a boat, says Weil. Which feels like coming home. She is the daughter of a riverboat captain.
“The river changes constantly,” she says. Some days it is such a bright blue that it looks like an ocean. This day, it is gray-blue below a paler gray-blue sky.
A long barge glides into view.
An artist and a writer, Weil is painting the river in all its various seasons. About a mile from her home, tacked up everywhere in her Walnut Hills studio are pencil and watercolor sketches of the river in its many moods.
Her easel holds a canvas on which a river scene is lightly sketched – awaiting the painter’s brush.A finished painting of the river at night – velvety black spangled with lights like diamonds – leans against the wall.
One challenge of the river series, Weil says, is working with “big space” – scenes that encompass river, land and sky – in ever-changing light, color and reflection.
The riverscapes in some way plug into a larger theme that runs through Weil’s art and her writing. Time.
“I always could feel time shifting – the ephemeral nature of life, always moving and changing,” she says. “You get that looking out at this river.”
In a room about the size of a large walk-in closet off the main hall is Weil’s writing den. Her computer, books and desk fill the room.
She has published essays, magazine articles and novels. Her most recent book is “A Good Woman” (Plain View Press, 2008)“I am always writing,” Weil says.
At the same time as Weil was writing the serious “Good Woman,” she also worked on a lighthearted story and illustrations for a book about a dog that goes to Hollywood.
One room of her warren-like studio is full of sketches of chocolate-eyes dogs in playful poses. Many are sketches of Weil’s own dog, Poppie.
At an age when some people begin to take it easy, Weil remains busy satisfying her two creative passions.
“I work every day,” she says. “I have more ideas than I could possibly do.”
That theme of time, and time enough, again.
The words and the paint enrich each other. “If I’m working on a book, something really pressing, I will obsess and stay with it. If I get to a point where I am stymied, I’ll go to the studio and work on art.”
Writing is hard work, she says. Art is more pure fun: “You have the pleasure of the colors.”
The hardest part in each case is “marketing and promoting,” she says.
If you are an artist and you want the world to see your work, you need to find galleries to show your art, organize shows, attract buyers.
If you are a writer and want the world to read your words, you have to go on the hard road to finding an agent, publishing, marketing and promoting your book.
For creative people, this end step of the process often is the hardest.
“You just have to make yourself do it,” Weill says.“There are so many disappointments in writing – no matter how successful you are,” she says of the publishing/promoting grind.The double life of writer and artist, though, presents “no conflict,” Weil says.
“The conflict is with the creative life and the rest of life,” she says. The friends not seen, the hours alone in front of an easel or computer.
“Sometimes I realize that it’s been days since the phone rang.”
(This story in its original form first appeared in The Cincinnati Post Newspaper, copyright 2006, used by kind permission.)~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Among Dottie (Dorothy) Weil’s published books are:“Life, Sex, and Fast Pitch Softball,” about a troubled girl facing adolescence and family disruption. PublishAmerica.
“River Rats,” a memoir. PublishAmerica.
“The River Home.” Ohio University Press.
“Nightside,” a poetry collection. Prasada Press.
“Continuing Education,” a comic novel. Rawson, Wade, Fawcett.
About the art: This night riverscape was created by Mo Conlan on her computer using the Paint program. ________________________________________
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