The Thornton family moved away from California to a small farm eight miles outside of Montrose, Colorado. It was like a new birth for Dan to live on a farm in the Rocky Mountains. Each day passed with a new arrangement of country alpine serenity. The San Juan Mountains (Dallas Divide) extended to the South of their farm with snow-capped peaks over thirteen thousand feet and some reaching beyond fourteen thousand feet. Each day he would pause to study their beauty. It was here he learned how to paint mountains and skies.
In 1974, Dan Thornton came to Provo, Utah to study Art at Brigham Young University. His empahsis was a composite of painting and drawing and secondary education. He married Zuleica Brega from Venezia (Venice), Italy and returned to Provo to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree. They now live in Provo with their four children.
Dan Thornton was contracted by the LDS Motion Picture Studio to design and construct a 1/10 scale model of the Nauvoo Temple. The model was used in a feature film, Mountain of the Lord, to depict the tragic scene in which the real Nauvoo Temple was destroyed by fire. Scrupulous architectural detail and fine craftsmanship were required to recreate the illusion of this historic event. The task was especially difficult because early paintings and the temple architect's renderings illustrated different interpretations. Also, available photographs had been badly damaged over time. In executing his design, Dan was assisted by Ben Hoopes, carpenter and set-builder.