This was the beginning of the end of Doris’s art career as a working artist, although not the end of her pursuit of creation. As Doris focused on raising two sons of her own, the bustling community of Manhattan artists slipped away, her peer group slowly dwindling. “This is what women have to suffer,” Doris’s youngest son, Dave Wright, says as he recalls Doris’s withdrawal from the artistic community. “When they have children, they give up their career. In New York she was a professional illustrator, but when she moved to Croton she became isolated.”
While her professional career as an illustrator may have been put on the back burner, Doris found success through art in other ways. She would spend hours upon hours of dedicated study on one medium of art — wood block carving, for example — before moving on to spend years, sometimes even a decade, on the next. Despite withdrawing from the hustle and bustle of Manhattan for a quiet family life at home, Doris’s work never lost the experimental quality that made it shine.
Dave fondly recalls his childhood home, which had an artist’s loft on the second floor where Doris escaped every evening to immerse herself in her art. “My mother was always in the studio working on art, and dad was always in his office writing music,” Dave recalls. Doris’s husband, composer and Emmy-nominated musician Rayburn Wright, had both the acclaim and the artistic mastery that many use to define artistic success. He steadfastly supported his wife’s creative process, collaborating with her to create album covers, posters, logos for the jazz program he spearheaded at Eastman School of Music. Dave was quick to note, “He treated her creative process with respect.”
After her children were grown and after the early passing of her beloved husband, Doris still maintained, even deepened, her dedication to the artistic craft. Woodblock, silk screens, lithography, abstract oil painting, calligraphy, mixed media pieces, computer art, watercolors, acrylics, there was no medium Doris wouldn’t explore. After Ray’s death, she created a series of pieces which incorporated sheet music he had written, calligraphy, painting, bringing different mediums together to express her grief.
But even with her vast library of works, her years dedicated to each medium in turn, she was still self-critical, still regretted her lack of commercial success. She found happiness and fulfillment in art — she loved traveling to new places and spending an hour or three with her sketchbook, recording what she saw through ink and paper in a way that couldn’t be captured with simple memory, a mindset passed down to her son, who translates travel experiences into music. But if ever asked about her own art, Dave recalls, “She was very self-deprecating. I’m sure she thought she could do better than what she produced.” In fact, the only way Dave was able to tell which of her own pieces Doris favored when he sifted through her works after her death was to see which ones she’d made the effort to frame.