Dorothy Hood was born in Bryan, Texas and raised in Houston. She studied at the Rhode Island School of Design on a scholarship received while she was in high school. She also studied at the Art Students League and upon graduation in 1941, traveled to Mexico. She spent the next 19 years traveling in Central and South America. Hood married Bolivian composer-conductor Velasco Maidana in Mexico City. In 1961 they returned to Houston where she taught at the Museum School of Art until 1976.