From the Hand of Dorothy Allyn Deets

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Dorothy Allyn Deets was born March 13, 1911, in Adrian, Washington – at her beloved Willow Lake. She spent her childhood in eastern Washington, and found her voice in art at a young age, reveling in the animals and nature around her. By age 12, she was producing works such as Girl with Geese, and continued quietly developing her talent throughout her teenage years, focusing on animals. Dorothy possessed a particular flair for dogs, and captured their moods, temperaments, and breed characteristics with ease. She was consistently recognized for her unparalleled talent in painting and line drawing of animals, including winning statewide art competitions, which led her to the Cornish College of the Arts. While at Cornish, she explored a variety of media, producing lithographs, oils, chalk drawing, and etchings. In the 1930s, she did some limited work as a commercial artist, as an illustrator for children’s books.

However, Dorothy’s was a very personal art, which she primarily did for herself and as her way of communicating most eloquently with the world. She continued to expand her repertoire, working alongside Lummi carvers and artists in the late 1950s as she and her husband Howard built a cabin at Sandy Point, on the Lummi reservation, in the style of the traditional longhouse. She and Howard felt a strong connection with Lummi: she through her art and the values instilled by her father, an early advocate for tribal rights in eastern Washington, and Howard through his daily contact and strong relationships with the tribe in his business and interest in native artists and traditions.

In the mid-1970s, during a time of personal upheaval with the loss of her parents and brother, Dorothy began another period in her artistic life. She turned to the traditional East Asian brush painting, Sumi-e, embarking on a journey requiring discipline and a new commitment to her art; this became a decades-long pursuit, as she found peace in Japanese watercolor and a new way to capture the essence of the smallest flower or bird. As part of her study with a local Sumi-e master, she produced work that was subsequently displayed in Japan, along with pieces from other students of Sumi-e.

Her lifelong love of nature and the richness of the world around her was expressed through her pen, pencil, chalk, and brush (and sometimes through carvings as well). She died in 2009, looking ahead to the next horizon, still with the eye of an artist and dreaming of her horses and dogs long past.

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Girl with Geese

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The Big Lonely Dog by Leonore Harris

A great dane makes a new and appealing dog hero for a young child’s book. The pictures by Dorothy Allyn Deets are positively irresistible, full of life, color and real dog. I think it is unfortunate that the publishers have labelled this a “”nursery book”” — imprinted conspicuously on the cover — for its lively story and small blocks of print make it ideal for self-reading at six or seven. It can be read aloud to younger children, too, but why alienate older readers by such a label?