Doel Reed was born in Indiana, and first pursuing architecture, enrolled at the Art Academy of Cincinnati from 1916 to 1920. He served in World War I and as a result was temporarily blinded. After months in hospitals in France, Reed returned to the Art Academy and became interested in graphics. There were few schools during this time specializing in graphics, so Reed was largely self-taught.
Beginning in the late 1940's, many of his summers were spent in Taos, New Mexico, with his family and in 1952 he was elected to the National Academy of Design. In 1959 Reed relocated to Taos where he set up a studio. Remembered as an important member of the Taos art community, in 1960 Reed achieved an international reputation as a landscape artist and printmaker, and as a master of aquatint. His paintings and aquatints were earth-toned and geometric in style and featured architectural forms of the New Mexico landscape. His work is in he collection of the Carnegie Institute, the Library of Congress, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the New York Public Library and La Biblioteque Nationale, among others.