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Artist Bev Doolittle

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What work are you most proud of and why?
“Pinto” is the very first print I ever did. I still have that original because it launched my whole career.

I love the one I just finished. I don’t know why; usually, I just hate them when I’m done with them. I just remember all the pain and torture. It’s kinda fresh in my mind. It isn’t until two or three months later that I can look at it and go, “Yeah, I guess I did OK on this.”

Probably the truest answer is the one I’m working on, that’s the one I’m most excited about.

I’m proud of everything I’ve done. There are a lot of old paintings that I would love to burn, but I’ve learned and grown over the years. Some of these things come out of the woodwork, some painting I did back in the ‘60s, and I go, “Oh, no, not that,” or once in a while, one will come up and I go, “Wow, that was a pretty good effort.”

Where are you going with your art?

You can’t be doing the same thing all the time. You just burn out. In fact, that is one reason why I left print for a while. I just couldn’t paint that way anymore. I didn’t want to change what I paint, but I wanted to change how I paint. I needed to take a hiatus and divorce myself from what was safe and comfortable and put myself on the edge again and get the fun and challenge of painting something new and different back.

I’m not saying I won’t ever do camouflage again. Of course, I will. I even hate that term. I like to think of it more like a mystical connection to nature. I use Native Americans as they represent man and how he thinks of himself when he’s out there. Of course, I love their whole lore because they tied themselves with their surroundings and the world they lived in. I know that I have those same feelings when I’m out there. It keeps you going. You never get tired of that. That’s what I love. How do you change that? You don’t. But you can sure change the way you depict it. The style of painting I would always like to keep fresh.

Where do you find inspiration?

Oh, well, the wilderness. I’ve done a lot of traveling over the years. Or you could just be in the shower and get an idea. You could just be out walking around the neighborhood, and there’ll be a coyote chasing a rabbit. That will kick in a thought or an idea or you could combine that with something else. You just gotta keep your eyes and ears open for things to happen in nature.

Joshua Tree National Park is our back yard, literally. We have coyotes that come up to drink every day. We have a bobcat family. It’s just neat to see them and know that they’re there. My husband was out walking yesterday and today and he came across the same rattlesnake twice and he said, “You know what? I think I’m going to have to walk around this bush a little different way tomorrow.” It’s just neat to know they are there.
We don’t have too many mice this year so maybe that’s why we’re seeing snakes more. It’s funny. Nature just kind of takes care of that. We haven’t seen many rabbits this year. Not many quail. We’ve had some drought. We didn’t get the wildflowers this year. It’s funny how you’ll have a year when you’ve got mice everywhere. Then all of sudden, one year, you won’t see hardly any. Cycles are there for a reason. If you’ve got too many mice one year, there’s imbalance there.

What’s your take on global warming?
Obviously something is happening here. When you have the polar ice cap melting, I’m sure we’re helping to speed things up. There are arguments both ways. I tend to fall on the scientific side. I’m not going to just bury my head in the sand and say, “No.” I’d rather believe it’s happening and try to make this a better world for our grandchildren. Then if it isn’t true, fine, we’ve actually got a cleaner world we’re living in. Opt for the worst. If you don’t believe, it could be true, and you then could get to the point of no return. That’s dangerous, too. So you’re better off just saying that something is definitely happening.

How fickle is the Western genre art scene?

It fades in and out. I think there will always be interest in the subjects I like—because the wilderness is who we are. There’s something missing in people’s lives. Especially in this day and age. I think people hope for a simpler life. Whether people know it or not, the more they are surrounded by things that are not manmade, the better they’re going to feel. There’s an element in nature that touches all of us. It’s hard to say these things. I’m just going to end up painting what I like, anyway. I’ve been fortunate that what I like to paint, a lot of people seem to like. Why? Because I’m depicting something people want to feel: closer to nature. They’re more and more surrounded by things that are manmade. They wonder what is wrong with their lives, and I think they need to go take a hike.

Any tips for art buyers?

Buy what you like. Don’t buy for investment. If it goes up in value, great, you’ve won twice. If it doesn’t go up, then you’ve got to enjoy a painting that you like very much.

Would we recognize the advertising campaigns you and your husband worked on?
The Mighty Dog dog food where you had the branding iron that sizzles the meat (laughs). My husband worked on Coffee-Mate. He got to work with all the beautiful girls when we were looking for models, and I got all the dogs and cats. I thought it was fun, but I didn’t want to live in the big city for the rest of my life. You would have to go to New York or Chicago if you ever wanted to move up. We could have been good in this business if we wanted to, but we didn’t want to spend the rest of our lives doing that. You look back and you go, “What did you do with your life?” “Well, Friskies dog food is No. 1 in the country.” Well, who cares? (laughs)
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