Don was born on May 16, 1947 in Long Beach, California. He did not always dream of being an artist. He studied philosophy, theology, and literature and it was not until he met the well known portraitist, Charles Cross, that he really began to explore his talents as a painter. Cross was impressed with Don's "innate color sense" that was displayed in the soft pastel colors of his oil paintings. Cross encouraged Don to pursue his talents by becoming his protagae.
Two years of study with Cross was not enough to convince Don to focus all of his energy on the world of art. He abandoned his short career in art to pursue a career in ministry. However, his desire to become an artist was too strong to ignore. In 1979, on the advice of the premier portrait painter Ray Kinstler, Hatfield moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, to pursue painting once again.
Hatfield eventually moved back to Los Angeles to fulfill his creative potential under the master tutelage of Sergei Bongart, who had a tremendous influence on him. "He was a wonderful presence and a great teacher," says Don. It was during this time with Bongart that Don diligently worked and perfected his style that we recognize today.
Don is inspired by the works of Edward Henry Potthast, William Glackens, Maurice Prendergast, Joaquin Sorolla, and John Singer Sargent. In his development as an artist, Don had the added influence of modern cinematic interpretation. Affected by the new mastery of color on film, in advertising and television, he felt a need for a more intoxicating light, another dimension to the beach attraction. Seeking truth in paint itself, he documented that fleeting essence of the tender, the humorous, the enchantment of a special moment in time.