Lynette Cook majored in Biology and Drawing & Painting, receiving both a Bachelor of Science as well as a Master of Fine Arts degree. She interned at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, working in the departments of Exhibits and Invertebrate Zoology. This internship led to freelance work at the museum, and eventually to the staff job of Artist/Photographer for the Morrison Planetarium, a position she still holds.
As Cooks' freelance work progressed, she developed a niche as a space artist and now paints astronomical subject matter almost exclusively. Her astronomical artwork has been published in Astronomy, Science News and Sky & Telescope as well as documentaries on BBC, CNN, The Discovery Channel, The Learning Channel, and PBS; and in many national newspapers. She has exhibited at American Museum of Natural History, Lick Observatory, NASA Ames Research Center, the Smithsonian, Space Center Houston, and Stanford University.
One of Cooks' favorite subjects is SETI: The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. She has been commissioned by the SETI Institute for several projects.
She is best known for her depictions of new planets discovered outside our solar system. Cook consults with astronomers, often the discoverers themselves, to learn what these worlds might look like. Then she creates a painting based on the data. Her renderings play a significant role in the education of others about these planets, reaching a wide and diverse audience.
Though the computer is used extensively to work out ideas for her images, Cook finds traditional media to be faster and easier for most final art. She uses a mixed media technique, combining gouache (and/or watercolor), colored pencil, and acrylic. Much of the work is done with the airbrush, with additional details painted and drawn in.