Douthwaite examined her inner self as her subject, with her work evoking the torment of humanity and particularly that of a female nature. She combined often dark imagery with vibrant colours and a confident, yet fragile, line. Born in Glasgow, from 1947 Douthwaite studied movement, mime and modern dance with Margaret Morris. Following several years successfully performing with the Celtic Ballet she decided to become an artist – a decision often linked to the influence of Morris’s husband, Scottish Colourist John Duncan Fergusson. In 1958 she moved to Essex where she knew several artists, including William Crozier, were working. However, in 1970 Douthwaite embarked on a more nomadic existence. This solitude fed into her work, which unquestionably reflects her somewhat troubled and volatile life.