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Sunday, May 24, 1992 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Artist Dorothy Milne Rising; A Northwest Arts Pioneer

Artist Dorothy Milne Rising, whose vibrant watercolors and oil paintings grace many of Seattle's art galleries and private homes, died Friday at age 96.

Born in Tacoma, Mrs. Rising was a Northwest pioneer in the arts. She founded the Northwest Watercolor Society and was former president of the Women Painters of Washington.

Although she was small in stature, Mrs. Rising left a strong impression.

"She was a human dynamo," said Nancy Rising, her former daughter-in-law.

"It always seemed like she was going 50 miles an hour," Rising said. "She never stopped going until the very end. Even her grandchildren had trouble catching up to her."

Later in life, Mrs. Rising's eyes began failing her. She didn't stop, though. She took up writing to fulfill her artistic drive. Mrs. Rising eventually had articles published in Christian Science Monitor and other national publications.

She was the widow of the late prominent architect Eric C. Rising, who structurally designed the Dexter Horton Building, built in 1923, and the Mayflower Hotel.

The couple lived in a colonial-style house in the University District where he designed his buildings and she painted still lifes. The closets were stuffed with her paintings.

Mrs. Rising wasn't afraid to experiment. At one pont, she drew exclusively with felt pens.

However, she wasn't the best businesswoman when it came to her work, Nancy Rising said.

When customers came to purchase her paintings, Mrs. Rising would always undersell. She was happy enough with the praise. If customers didn't have enough money to buy her work, she would arrange small monthly payments for them.

In a time when women were second fiddle, Mrs. Rising played to her own tune. She had painted since she was a child. A graduate of New York's Pratt Institute, she went to the University of Washington, where she earned a master's degree in fine arts.

Mrs. Rising also taught at Western's College of Education, the University of Puget Sound and several Seattle public schools.

But painting was her passion. Her work was good enough to be exhibited at several national juried shows. Mrs. Rising had more than 37 solo exhibitions, including the Seattle Art Museum and galleries in California.

Mrs. Rising was a tough woman. At one point, she developed cancer when she was in her late 40s. She underwent heavy radiation doses, but instead of letting her husband drive her to the hospital for treatment, she would take the bus.

Later in life, the couple traveled the world extensively. During these travels, Mrs. Rising bloomed as a painter. She launched into a series of paintings that captured villages in Kenya and the people of the Middle East.

"Her paintings were extremely sensitive," Nancy Rising said. "Though she was sort of reserved in person, her paintings showed such emotion."

Mrs. Rising was also quite good capturing home life. Her favorite spot was the Woodland Park Zoo. She spent hours there sketching and painting the animals. One favorite was a cockatoo.

"That painting had so much life and humor in it," Rising said. "You look at the cockatoo and it was so wonderful and so audacious. You had a feeling of life and humor with her animals."

Mrs. Rising is survived by her three children, Carle, of Seattle; Richard, of Woodinville; Dorothy Jean Leghorn, of Mukilteo; six grandchildren, and four great grandchildren.

A memorial service will be at Acacia Cemetery in Lake City at 2 p.m. Wednesday. The Rising family suggests that donations be made to charities.

Copyright (c) 1992 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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