A conversation with a fellow artist got me pondering that age-old question again. Where DO our ideas come from? There are so many books, lectures, and blog posts on the matter, but I wanted to throw in my two cents.
I'm sure many of you have gotten that question from someone "Where do the ideas for your paintings/writing/etc. come from?" It's always asked or implied with this far off look, as if we have this magical ability to pluck the ideas from the gauzy glitter spangled ether as if they are tangible things waiting for our nimble, magically imbued fingers.
Any successful creative professional will tell you that coming up with ideas takes just as much practice, if not more, than actually honing your skills and techniques. Learning how to draw is only a small part of a larger equation. In the words of one of my favorite characters, "...a mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone if it is to keep its edge."
Just as an artist needs a healthy visual vocabulary of paintings, references, and experiences to keep their imagery unique and original. Art isn't just about drawing well, but making those little cross-connections between one emotion and another to produce something that is uniquely you and that others will also identify with.