7-29-2010: New (uprighted) video loaded on "Nitty Gritty" :)

Monday, August 16, 2010

SciMath Career #1: Illustrator/Picture framer

Dinah Bowman is a professional artist and an illustrator here on board the JR who specializes in all things natural and biological. As a child, she dreamed of making a living doing what she loves to do: Art! She has also always loved the ocean and the marine sciences but decided in graduate school that her heart belonged in the colors and imagination of painting and printing. Today, she combines all her loves into a career painting scenes and animals from the ocean for those who love the marine sciences as much as she does! AND she gets to fulfill her lifelong dream of witnessing real oceanography research with the cutting edge science crew aboard the JR.

You wouldn't think that art requires science but it does! Dinah's beautiful artwork is often commissioned by museums, natural history societies and universities who are interested in communicating concepts in biology to non-scientists - concepts such as ancient environments and the animals that lived in it, or bacteria that live in the ocean, or the shape, texture and color of fish. In order to paint what the biologists and naturalists want her to paint, she needs to know the terminology - in other words, she needs to speak the scientific language. To paint an animal and it's habitat, Dinah also needs to be familiar with the anatomy, the environment and the habits of the animal. Or else, she loses the job! Eeek!

She also uses math on a daily basis. She owns and operates a business that frames pictures. On any given day, she is reading rulers, measuring lengths, adding and subtracting fractions, measuring angles and adding and subtracting decimals. Framing pictures would be impossible if you couldn't measure the size of the picture and you would not be able to make a frame for a 6-sided art piece if you couldn't measure angles! Dinah also uses air tools that require her to be able to calculate air pressure. Can you imagine where Dinah would be if she didn't know math?! Out of a job, for sure!

So far, Dinah has made over 20 illustrations of our coring, corking and sampling operations aboard the JOIDES Resolution. Here is only one example of her beautiful work. In this example, our drill bit is shown chewing up the rock disturbing the homes of the bacteria that live in the rock under the ocean. This and other illustrations help you and others back home understand what exactly we're doing out here on a boat in the middle of the ocean. Without her math and science though, she would never have been a professional science illustrator and she would not have had the opportunity to live her dream and be with us today. Good thing she studied her math and science! Go Dinah!

If you have questions for Dinah, you can post them below or visit Dinah's website.


  1. Hi Amanda!
    We visited Dinah's website and are VERY impressed! We think she is a talented artist.
    R wants to know how Dinah learned to paint, or is it just a natural gift.
    Q asked where Dinah got the courage to paint for a living instead of having an office job.
    Does she really do prints of your fish if you catch one?
    Maybe we'll try to print on rice paper someday.

    Talk to you soon!

  2. R - Dinah knew she had a talent for art when, in kindergarten, her teacher was so impressed with her drawing that she showcased Dinah's work to other classrooms. It was this kind of encouragement that helped Dinah realize that she had a natural gift for art. She was also very good at making art out of leftover craft supplies in her house. Of course, as with all gifts, practice and learning are needed to improve and refine the ability that is already there. In college, she designed her own graduate program by combining art and biology and by introducing painting techniques she learned from other local artists to the university's curriculum. And to this day, Dinah is still improving on her work. She attends conferences and meetings with fellow leaders in the art field and continues to educate herself on the newest painting and printing techniques out there.

    Q - Dinah knew she wanted a career in painting but she also knew that she would not earn a good living at it immediately. While she was looking for the perfect studio, she was working as a mudwasher for the US Geological Survey. When it finally came time for Dinah to buy some used framing supplies and start her framing business and art gallery, she decided that she was just going to dive in. If she made it, great! If she didn't, she would have to go back to doing another job. But if she didn't try, she would never have known if she could it. So she just did it! She took a chance 35 years ago and now she's doing what she always wanted to do: to paint for a living. :)

    Yes, for $17 and inch, Dinah will print any fish you catch. She has fishermen (and fisherwomen) all over the world who send their fish to her to print. It's a great way to preserve the size, texture and color of your wonderful catch without stuffing it and mounting it on your wall.