Bev Doolittle caught the artistic bug as a child, before starting
school, by drawing horses, and started attracting attention not long
after. At twelve years of age she won an art contest at the
San Gabriel Historical Society;
two years later came her first
exhibition. While still in high school, she accepted a scholarship
to the Los Angeles Art Center College of Design, from which she
graduated in 1968.
In 1979 the fame that would be thrust upon her first began to
manifest, when Pintos
was published in a 1000-print edition. After producing several more
prints over the next
few years, in 1984 she published The Forest Has Eyes
in an edition of 3,544 prints,
which catapulted her into the national artistic spotlight.
of her most popular paintings, this is the work that entered the term
camouflage art into our lexicon, and typecast her as
a camouflage artist. Camouflage art connotes paintings in which elements
in the picture are later integrated by the viewer into another picture
accompanying the main one.
Many people call me a 'camouflage artist,' but that doesn't really fit. If
I have to categorize at all, I prefer to think of myself as a 'concept
painter.' I am an artist who uses camouflage to get my story across, to
slow the viewing process so you can discover it for yourself. Everything I
do is intended to enhance the idea of each piece. For me, camouflage is a
means to an end, not an end in itself. My meaning and message are never
All of Bev's paintings are set in nature, many featuring horses or
Indians. The Forest Has Eyes is at first
glance a picture of a man on horseback traveling through a forest;
then one sees the many faces, formed by the rocks and trees, watching him.
Probably the most famous of her works is Music In The Wind.
This is the painting that brought her to my attention. Having 43,500 copies
printed, this scene, almost four times as wide as it is tall,
Indian woman in the far left emerging from the forest into a meadow,
carrying a basket containing her forage, her dress windblown, as a flock
of birds takes flight from the middle of the picture. The background image,
seen in 3/4 of the width, formed from foliage, rocks, and a
shows an Indian man playing a flute.
On first seeing Music In The Wind, I saw only the
foreground image, and was struck by the scene's beauty. It was about a
week later that I suddenly became aware of the musician's hand,
and started studying the picture more closely. A few days later, I found
myself driving 35 miles to an art gallery to pick
up a copy, for which I was happy to pay a price of $300 as my
initiation into the art world.
Then, wanting to ensure that I have this gem for decades to come, I
spent another $400 on custom framing. So far, it is the only Doolittle
adorning my home (the only other artwork I have is also a camouflage
work, and also an Indian theme; though very pleasant (and lacquered onto
an arrowhead-shaped wood backing), it is a pale imitation of Bev's work.)
I hope someday to acquire a copy of Hide And Seek. This
unique work consists of twenty-four separate paintings, fourteen by ten
inches; each one, like Pintos, uses only brown and white
to show semi-camouflaged horses on a rocky and snow-covered ground. Each
one is a pleasure in itself, and a person could hang them all about
eir home, and eir guests would be quite impressed. But,
if arranged in a 4x6 grid, and preferably viewed from fifteen to twenty
feet away, one would see a message writ large in brown block letters.
Mrs. Doolittle is no longer adding to her catalog of more than thirty
paintings, which have all long since sold out their limited editions
and now support a sizable secondary market, though several books have
been published and are still available. But they have brought joy
to thousands of her fans, and from the original sales, over one million
dollars has been donated to various charities.
 Not to be confused with random-dot stereograms, the seemingly abstract
pictures that you see in shopping malls in which some people can see the "real" picture by
defocusing their eyes.
Thanks to tes for reminding me
that the painting on my wall was good fodder for a writeup.