Pat Rawlings

Pat Rawlings

Pat Rawlings, 61, was born in Greenville TX. Pat creates images based on scientific and technical themes that appeal to both rocket scientists and regular folk. His extraterrestrial "snapshots" of future events give viewers a sense of "being there" as explorers hop from one world to the next using the best technology of the 21st century.

Rawlings' desire to travel in space and time motivate him to make scenes as accurate as possible. After consulting with numerous space experts around the country, he uses hand-built and computer models, topographical maps, and space and family vacation photos to mentally create his "worlds,'rom one world to the next using the best technology of the 21st century.

"Space art", says the artist, "provides me with an excuse to talk to some of the most interesting people in the country, build miniature models of space ships, and then sit in my studio painting or working on the computer for hours while listening to movie soundtracks and classical music".

Thorough research is the most important element in Rawlings' approach to a space image. Often when discussing a future mission with an engineer or scientist, he will discover some unusual point-of-view or quirky detail that will provide the art with an uncanny realism. For example, while discussing the Mars Pathfinder landing sequence with a project engineer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the artist realized that the mission was landing at night.

This detail, not described in any of the routinely distributed PR material, completely altered the picture's composition. Instead of using the sun as a light source, Rawlings illuminated the landscape with three solid rocket engines in the aeroshell that fire just as the airbag covered lander is released.

After completely understanding the part of the mission being depicted, Rawlings then develops models of the elements in the scene. Some of these geometrically precise models are created from foamcore or plastic, while others are constructed using 3D modeling software. The spacecraft models are based on engineering drawings produced by the artist or provided by the client. The setting models are usually based on US Geological Survey topographical maps and/or orbital photography.

Pat was formerly the exhibits designer at Johnson Space Center in Houston. He has been doing NASA art for over 30 years, and works are often seen in a huge number of publications, but are most often only credited "courtesy NASA"

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