Pat Douthwaite, born in Ayrshire and raised in Paisley, began to seriously pursue art in the mid to late-1950s, having previously painted occasionally and focused more on dance and theatre. She studied mime and modern dance with Margaret Morris, whose husband, J. D. Fergusson, encouraged her to paint. This influence apart, she was self-taught.
At this time she moved from Paisley to Essex, having previously met the painter William Crozier. In Essex and at exhibitions in London she acquainted herself with a number of artists who would influence both her life and artistic practice, including Robert Colquhoun, Robert MacBryde, and Paul Hogarth, whom she would marry in 1963.
During her lifetime, she exhibited with Richard Demarco, at the Talbot Rice Gallery, the Royal College of Art, Third Eye Centre and at the Scottish Gallery, who also held a memorial exhibition in 2005.