People often ask where I get ideas for my work. That question always gives me pause, and I probably sound like a stuttering engine when I attempt to answer it. There are so many variables that lead to the birth of an idea. And the thing about variables? They change.

Every drawing, sketch, and painting goes through a different process. Some activate memories of shapes. Others use reference images. Some use digital manipulation. Others involve tactile memory. Some start with an end goal in mind. Many don’t.

In the end, it’s all about putting a hand to the medium and allowing oneself to trust.

Here are two similar works and the different creative processes behind each.

“Flower” by Ditrie Marie Bowie

A flower. Simple, small, a clean hand-inked drawing in a sketch book. This drawing began as a collection of small shapes (located now in the top section of the flower).

At the time, I was sitting in yet another medical waiting room. They’ve become more and more frequent in my life. The sterile spaces, murmuring on the phone, strangers flipping through magazines. Coughs. Sneezes. People who struggle to move. Radio stations playing anything but what one wants to hear.

So I zoned out. Made pretty shapes on a page. Then I made more with an eye for balancing the overall structure. And that’s when I saw it: the flower.

It wasn’t on the page yet, but I saw what it could be. Thereby an aimless doodle became a doodle with a goal.

“Crow” by Ditrie Marie Bowie

The crow. Hot pink and digitally drawn using vectors. This image was a crow before I ever put digital pencil to tablet. And here’s why:

There is a community center in my neighborhood that provides grants to artists. In return, the chosen artists will use the funds to create artwork that involves the community. This crow was part of my application.

Why a crow? Because crows (and rainy days) are deeply embedded in the Vancouver identity.

To create this image, I first searched through photos of crows in various positions. When I found a gesture that seemed animated enough for my purposes, I began creating small shapes within the confines of the crow’s silhouette.

I initially planned to make this image black and white per my usual, but there is something striking about the hot pink that fits my community much better.

Sometime in February I will discover whether or not my application will be approved. Wish me luck!


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