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My painting sub-career began with an interest in drawing as a kid. My paternal grandfather, Andrew (Andreas) Hartmann, was an artist who came to the US from Switzerland in 1892. I remember his paintings being all over the walls of our house, which seemed normal -- and I regret that I didn't know him long enough to get into his mind to find out why he was painting and what he was thinking.   (See Andrew Hartmann's website here.)

I'm basically self-taught. I began to develop my painting more seriously in the 1970s when I realized I could use them to illustrate my textbooks. Texts at that time were poorly illustrated, and I realized that it might make astronomy more interesting if students could visualize what it might be like to visit various astronomical locations. At the same time I commissioned works from artist friends I was beginning to meet, and learned a lot from them. In 1982 I organized the first International Space Art Workshop, in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park -- a gathering from which eventually grew the International Association of Astronomical Artists.

Swiss Scene Painting
Painting of Swiss scene by Andrew Hartmann, ca. 1930.



My own paintings divide into astronomical work and terrestrial landscapes. My paintings of astronomical subjects are based on recent scientific discoveries. As a boy, I was inspired by the paintings of Chesley Bonestell, father of astronomical art in the U.S. I was very happy to know him in his later years, in his 80's, when he was still active and gave me many valuable critiques. In the astronomical paintings my goal is to make something aesthetically beautiful from our discoveries about the rest of universe. To me, the discoveries about other worlds are so fantastic that we do not need to go outside the bounds of realism to make interesting images, although I like my images to have a certain interest at the abstract compositional and sometimes textural levels. Recently I've been moving toward thicker paint and even incorporating sand and other material into the paint.

My astronomical paintings have been published in magazines ranging from Natural History, Smithsonian, and Astronomy in the U.S. to the London Economist and other magazines in Japan, Russia, France, Germany, England, and Italy.

Homage to Chesley Bonestell. Bonestell painted this rocket on the cover of a 1949 book, "The Conquest of Space", showing the conception of lunar flight at that time. His painting had steep mountains and craggy rocks. Here, I painted the Bonestell rocket as it would have appeared on the real moon, which is more smooth than visualized in 1949.

My astronomical paintings have also been shown in exhibitions in New York City, Berkeley, Pasadena, Hawaii, and the National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC, as well as internationally in Moscow, Montreux, Yalta, and elsewhere, and are in collections the U.S., Paris, and Moscow. They have also been used to illustrate books by Carl Sagan and other authors, as well as my own books on astronomical and space themes, such as Grand Tour, Out of the Cradle, Cycles of Fire, and The History of Earth (New York, Workman Publishing).

My work has begun to get more notice. The Chicago Sun-Times in 1996 said "Hartmann is the most traditionally artistic of the space painters." Arthur C. Clarke in 1996 wrote "I consider him to be the direct successor of the late, great Chesley Bonestell," the father of Space Art. In 1997, my art was cited when I was named first winner of the Carl Sagan Medal for communication of science to the public, from the American Astronomical Society.

During the glasnost years, I was involved in an exchange project with the Russian Union of Artists, where I painted with Russian artists and co-edited a collection of space paintings from the two countries, In the Stream of Stars: The Soviet American Space Art Book (New York: Workman Publishing).

I've been commissioned twice to paintings for the NASA Fine Arts Program (Galileo space probe launch and Mars Observer Mission), and have had two of my paintings flown in the Russian Space Station, Mir, in 1992.



The landscapes have been done mostly in the deserts of Arizona and Sonora, but also include paintings done on scientific and artistic trips to many parts of the world, including Hawaii, Iceland, Prague, the Black Forest of Germany, Mt. St. Helens, the Caribbean, and Yalta.

In my terrestrial landscape painting, I see Earth is a cosmic body -- just one of many worlds. Landscape painting from Nature is also a way of staying honest about how light strikes various natural materials, and thus keeping all my paintings fresh and full of actual observations of nature's incredible variety of effects.


Many or most of the paintings shown in my online galleries are available for reproduction and/or purchase. Inquire about reproduction at (520) 622-6300 (PSI), where my secretary is available to facilitate rapid turnaround of images. Inquiries about sales can be made through (520) 325-6548 or through my email: hartmann [at] ( ) . Prices of original paintings are currently running $500-2000 and rising. Twenty-five percent proceeds produced through these contacts will go to the scientific work of PSI and/or a fund for travel of graduate students to the annual meeting of the Division of Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society.


WKH Woolsey Peak
Woolsey Peak wilderness, Arizona
(photo: Joe Gordon)
WKH La Salina
La Salina salt flat, Sonora, Mexico
(photo: Gayle Hartmann)
WKH Brittany coast
Brittany Coast, France
(photo: Gayle Hartmann)
WKH Speitz Switz
Spietz, Switzerland
(photo: Olga Popova)
WKH Tetons
Grand Teton National Park
(photo: Gayle Hartmann)


<-- Back to Bill Hartmann's Home Page    Last updated June 5, 2016 by Kelly Rehm



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