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Artist Particulars

 Name  Davis
 First Name  Don
 Citizenship  United States
 ZIP  92264
 City  Palm Springs
 Country  United States
 Date of Birth  21/10/1952
 Place of Brith  United States

Statement / Description

The creation of space art is for me the act of synthesizing in ones mind an impression of a space subject based on all desired available information, mulling over the artistic opportunities, and creating an image based on what results. I choose the framework of visual realism for my work, showing some of what is known about the subject and seeking to convey what intrigues me about it. Often it is a product of imagining what some amazing thing would look like close up. Sometimes it is an expression of audacious hope for the future like the space colony paintings, other times the immense cosmic forces Earth and other worlds experience are portrayed. Showing such things in familiar frames of reference can be revealing, such as showing a Tunguska sized meteoric explosion over a modern city. Computer graphics and animation techniques have provided new methods for such imagery. The creation of immersive hemispheric environments which give audiences novel visual experiences is the most exciting artistic medium for me at this time.

Personal Resume / Biography

Personal Resume / Biography
I grew up in the San Francisco Bay area, and graduated from Menlo Atherton High School, class of 1970. I have had no formal art training although a number of painters provided generous advice and support, including Chesley Bonestell. Through communication and visits with Bonestell I came to appreciate the wide range of knowledge one should draw upon, when applicable, when creating realistic visions of other worlds.

Shortly after being hired at the U.S. Geological Survey as a 'Cartographic Aid', i.e. Scientific Illustrator, in November 1968, I painted a pair of visualizations of the appearance of the Moon in early geological epochs under the guidance of my supervisor Don Wilhelms, finished shortly before my first published work in the San Francisco Chronicle Sunday Supplement magazine "California Living" the week of the Apollo 11 Moon landing. At the U.S. Geological Survey I was to learn of the forces shaping the landscapes of the Moon and Mars. Paintings done for NASA in the 1970s of giant space habitats and of the Viking and Voyager missions to the planets were widely published. At the end of the 1970s, Carl Sagan and artist Jon Lomberg gathered space art talent from across the country to work on the PBS series 'Cosmos'. I won an Emmy for my work on that series along with several others on the space artist team.

In 1980 I was given the job of painting a series of outer planets texture maps, among the earliest ever made using a digital drawing tablet, for the Voyager encounter computer animations made for Voyager navigator Charles Kohlhase. I was principally supervised by Jim Blinn, pioneer in computer graphic methods.

In the late 1980s I worked at Hansen Planetarium, creating art for shows and later learning most aspects of show production techniques. Hansen's tradition as a leading facility continued with its early acquisition of the computer graphic "Digistar" projector, made by local flight simulator creators Evans and Sutherland.

I learned to use a mouse with a little clear window and cross hairs with which tracings over drawings could be done with great precision. With this I built up a detailed wire-frame "model" of an Apollo Lunar Module, which was used in an Evans and Sutherland calendar. Digistar, and then Macintosh computers with drawing tablets, provided my first continuous exposure to computer graphic methods.

The 1990s brought me back into the film based visual effects business, doing much the same kind of work for the PBS series 'Infinite Voyage' at WQED Science Effects in Glendale, California as I had done for "Cosmos". Macintosh computers were appearing with capable animation software, removing repetitive manual tasks associated with traditional animations. As I acquired my own computer systems most of my work began being done at home. Several Discovery Channel science series featured my animations and art, most notably 'Wonders of the Universe', 'Cosmic Safari', and 'Savage Sun'. Graphics for these shows would later be redone using faster computers for hemispheric dome presentations.

In 1998 I worked with Steve Savage and Terence Murtagh to experiment on methods and content for the first digital astronomy animations, swiftly graduating from three video projector panoramas to multiple projectors filling an entire dome. The first astronomy animation, my fly through of the recently photographed 'Pillars of Creation' was shown at the 1998 International Planetarium Society conference in London. Since then "Fulldome" video projection animations released by Evans and Sutherland have formed the balance of my work, my contribution to shows taking about a working year. As of this writing (June 2008), I have produced more animation for the fulldome medium than anyone else. Recent PBS shows in which my work has appeared are: 'Life Beyond Earth' and 'Seeing In The Dark', both created by Timothy Ferris.

I am a Fellow and Rudaux Award recipient from the International Association of Astronomical Artists. I was awarded the 2002 Klumpke-Roberts Award by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific for outstanding contributions to the public understanding and appreciation of astronomy. The asteroid 13330dondavis is named after me.


Public Broadcasting System
Models and artwork for 'Cosmos', models, art and animation for 'Planet Earth', 'Infinite Voyage','Space Age', Digital animations for 'Life Beyond Earth','Seeing In The Dark', both written by Timothy Ferris.

Digital animation for 7 fulldome programs for Evans and Sutherland 2000-2008

Smithsonian Institution Washington, D.C.
Digital media murals and animations for Hall of Meteorites at National Museum of Natural History of a tour of Solar System, and an asteroid impact on Earth. 1997

Covers and interior artwork for many science and space oriented publications including:
Carl Sagan's books 'Cosmos', 'Comet', 'Pale Blue Dot', and the cover of his Pulitzer Prize winning book 'The Dragons Of Eden'. Other publications include Gerard O'Neill's "The High Frontier", 'The New Solar System' by Sky Publishing, and issues of "Parade" and "Sky and Telescope" magazine.

'Time Traveller' Omni May 1985

'Don Davis' Universe' Sky and Telescope June 1985

'Planetary Exploration' in 6 volumes with various authors Facts on File 1989

Art Works