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5 Spot

Artist Bev Doolittle


After an eight-year hiatus, artist Bev Doolittle is touring with her first acrylic on canvas titled “Beyond Negotiations.” She will appear at the Repartee Gallery (University Mall, 575 University Parkway, Orem, BigHornPrints.com) on Aug. 10, from 6-9 p.m. This is the unabridged Five Spot interview that appeared in the Aug. 9 issue of City Weekly.

You’re only visiting 16 galleries nationwide this year. How did Repartee Gallery in Orem make the cut?
I let my publisher deal with that. They’re the ones who pick out the shows. There are so many factors: You have to be paid up, you have to sell a certain amount of product, there’s all kinds of stuff I don’t really know about. Don’t want to know. I haven’t been to Utah in a while, so it’s going to be fun to come back.

Do you have ties to Utah?

I do. One of the artists in our group, Jim Christensen, put me on to stone lithography. I went to his little cabin above Sundance, and I spent a week. We just created stone lithos, and I learned the craft. It turns out there is a master printer nearby who also teaches stone lithography at BYU. So I went to see his class and to meet him, and I really liked him. So I’m doing stone lithos with Wayne Kimball.

Is stone lithography a new medium for you?
Absolutely. Jim Christensen has been trying to get me into it because he knows I love to draw. It really shows the drawing skills. Most all the drawing I’ve done to this point has been to get me to a painting stage. Well, then you roll the drawings up and throw them away. I like to draw for the sake of drawing. Stone lithography is the perfect medium to showcase that.

I got hooked on it. I’ve probably done 10 of them. I picked it up pretty quick, but there’s still some trouble I’m getting into. In fact, on this most recent print [“Beyond Negotiations’], I got too much oil from my hand on the stone. You work with a grease pencil directly on the stone. The ink sticks to that oil. My Indians were black smudges, and we had to destroy the whole edition.

Meanwhile, I had this wonderful drawing I had put all this work into. I thought, “How am I going to salvage this?” And I thought this really would be nice as a painting. So that’s how I got into working with acrylic. This is my first of acrylic on canvas. And it all started because of the failure of stone litho. There are a lot of firsts here. It’s my first 6-foot painting. It’s my first acrylic; it’s my first giclée canvas, too.

The technology of giclée has really improved. I’ve been out of print for seven/eight years. All my prints up to this point were done on paper. Giclée can be done on paper, too. It’s actually like an ink-jet process where you spray ink on the paper or the canvas, instead of the dot-screen method. It’s a whole different technology, and it’s really beautiful to see all the fidelity of the colors. It’s really rich.

When I went back to sign, I wanted to see the original so I could see what they thought the accuracy was. I was amazed. You could hardly tell the difference. On the original, I painted the Indians on their horses several times, so there was a buildup of paint. On the print, you don’t get that.

{::INSERTAD::}This is the largest the painting you’ve done.
I think I’ve been up to 4 feet with my watercolors before in one direction. It’s funny when I got the drawing done, I took it down to an office-supply place and just blew it up. I got it up to 200 percent, and the bigger it got, the better it looked. You get it up to a billboard, and it would even be better.

I thought, I’m going to be painting in a whole different style, a lot looser than the style than I’m known for. And this is not going to be watercolor; it’s going to be acrylic. Again, it’s on canvas. There are a lot of new things for me to focus on. I didn’t want to get into too much hot water.
Of course, I couldn’t have picked a more difficult painting to experiment on. With 19 Indians (I think I got down to 17 Indians now), every square inch of this is horse or human anatomy. I really suffered at times. I spent two and a half days just getting an arm right. I was real close to just putting a shirt on him and just forgetting the whole thing (laughs).

How long did you spend on it?

About six months. I thought it would be six weeks if it was painted as loose as it should have been. I really wanted to change my style of painting; it was like going back to school. I had to really concentrate and focus. When you get your drawing all blown up, you start seeing flaws. All of sudden, you have to focus on facial expressions. You have to see teeth and shadows and got to get involved with eyeballs.

What’s the color for teeth?

You never use white. Teeth aren’t white. It depends on the lighting. I think all the teeth in my painting are in shadows. So if you mix it up on your palette, it would probably look like a dark blue gray. You just go, “Euh, that looks awful.” But to put it on the painting, surrounded by all the other colors, they look absolutely brilliant white. In fact, sometimes, I had to tone them down even more. It’s all relative. You put orange against a blue, it’s going to scream. If you put a cooler orange against a warmer blue, it’s not going to scream as much. It’s a matter of color, value and hues.

Where did you get the inspiration for your camouflage paintings?
It evolved. I see it in nature. I think almost everyone has seen clouds and logs and found things. It’s kind of a game you play when you’re a kid. As an adult, you still do it. It’s nothing new. The military have been doing it for a long time. It’s just I applied it in a different way.

I love the wilderness. I love Native American philosophy. You tie those two things together with natural elements, things that happen in nature, you tie it in with a concept or an idea, you got something new and different. You just have to listen to yourself.

Everybody is unique. Every artist is unique. Everyone who looks at this painting is going to get a different response, a different take because of their own life experiences.

One guy came up to me at a show after he saw “Beyond Negotiations” and said, “I had a day like that last Wednesday.” It’s kind of a road-rage painting to some people. Some people say, “Gee, did you send one of these to President Bush?” like it’s a political statement. I’m going, “No. No. No.” (laughs)