She was an artist before she knew it. Her notebooks were filled with portraits of her high school teachers, whom she'd draw as they stood in front of class. Although she would get in trouble for drawing when she was supposed to be paying attention, it didn't stop her.
Many years later, Patti Doolittle, 71, with brush in hand, continues to sketch and paint but is no longer doing it in notebooks. She is painting murals around Bakersfield and is days away from finishing a military mural inside the Elks Lodge, near Garces Memorial Circle.
"It's been fun and inspirational because everyone that comes in talks about their time in service and they remember stories and share memories they had when they were in the military," Doolittle said.
Doolittle has been a part of Elks Lodge for more than 10 years. Her husband, John Doolittle, is the Exalted Ruler (which is like a president) and has been in the group for more than 40 years.
John and trustees of the group thought it would be a good idea to add something permanent in the building that represented all military branches, especially with Flag Day being Friday.
"We are very patriotic and she is an amazing artist so having this mural a part of the building will really represent something special for all of us to see when we meet together," John said.
Elks Lodge is a fraternal organization that puts on charitable and local events to support the community and veterans.
The name of the mural will be "All gave some and some gave all." Dootlittle hopes to complete it by Tuesday, just in time for the lodge's annual Flag Day salute dinner.
Tony Contreras, 62, a member of the Elks Lodge for 41 years, was impressed with the progress Doolittle has made on the mural.
"When I first became a part of the group we had more than 3,000 members but today we only have about 500 and most of those members are veterans so this mural is something very dear to all of us and Patti is just very talented," Contreras said.
The mural, which is 14 and a half feet long and approaches 4 feet high, shows images from wars from World War II to Afghanistan. With different shades of blue creating clouds in the background, 11 acrylic images are drawn meticulously.
The Unconditional Surrender picture that is famous for a sailor kissing a nurse in Times Square, New York City, looks like the real photograph from afar. The colors and details, down to the shoelaces and crease on the sailor's uniform, are precise.
Each image is replicated from a photo and Doolittle sketches the picture on the wall with a pencil.
"It usually takes me about an hour to do each different sketch and I enjoyed this particular mural because it really shows a story and a memory," she said.
The image Doolittle finds most heartwarming and touching is one of an American soldier with a black dog. He is kneeling and cuddling the dog.
"In Afghanistan they have these bomb sniffing dogs and they get attached to them so I knew I had to add this image to the mural," she said, smiling as she traced her fingers around the image.