Don Bester Biography

View Art by Don Bester

Donald Bester (1914 - 1982) Born in Ironton, Ohio, Donald Bester grew up in Great Falls, Montana. There he worked as a ranch hand and as a smelterman. He was inspired to pursue art as a career after meeting Charles M. Russell at his studio. The C.M. Russell Museum in Great Falls has an oil painting entitled Serene Morning by Bester in its permanent collection. 

Bester's love of western themes continued throughout his life. He even bought a horse and erected a log cabin on his property in Grants Pass, OR to serve as props for his "cowboy art". He and his family made many trips to Eastern Oregon where he took photographs of barns and fences for inclusion in his western work.

Bester left Great Falls in 1939 to study at the Art Center School in Los Angeles as well as the Jepson Art Institute and Chouinard School of Art. Prior to enlisting in the Army Corps of Engineers in WWII, he worked as an artist for the Douglas Aircraft Corporation. 

Don became an accomplished commercial artist and produced illustrations for Union Oil, Texaco, Rexall Drug Company, and the Systems Development Corporation among many others. He is probably best known for his artist renderings of space vehicles and space stations. One of his renderings of an early concept of a space station (untitled) was donated to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum by the North American Rockwell Corporation. Another work, Jet at Thule, is part of the U.S. Air Force Art Collection. Rogue Community College also has works in their collection.

Don Bester was a member of the American Watercolor Society (1949) in New York & Oregon and a member of the Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles. His wife Virginia was a member of the Oregon Watercolor Society.

Submitted by Leo Oaks, who wrote:  "Don passed away here in Grants Pass in 1982.  He left one child with special needs.  The Grants Pass Museum ended up with the bulk of his art."

Biography Courtesy of Grants Pass Museum of Art

California Watercolor