The Daily Formline Sketch and Where to Find Inspiration

As you can see from the February 18 date of my Daily Sketch, I’m still behind in posting my daily sketches. I am not behind in the sketches themselves. I’m rather enjoying the routine of sketching every day for a given amount of time. I hope this encourages others to try the same. It’s yielding substantial rewards! (Not to mention a nice catalog of ideas for future work.)

Even though I think I’ve gotten somewhat adept at designing in the Northwest Coast formline style, there’s always room for improvement. Also, I never know what strange combinations I’ll come up with from day to day. Formline design does take a lot of practice. When I finish a piece, I always see things I could have done better.

In addition to practicing daily, I like to look at as much art as I can. There’s nothing wrong with getting fresh ideas from another artist’s work. What better place to learn from than some of the masterpieces that ended up in museum collections? Here’s a few online databases you can explore:

That should keep you pretty busy. There are so many masterpieces in collections all over the world. Many sources of inspiration.

The sketch below shows that once in a while I like to get back to basics. It also shows that even when I lean more toward the old style, I’ll work in a few of my own tweaks. Look at the slanted angle on the tail at the bottom and you’ll see what I mean. Sometimes it feels like I just can’t help deviating.

Faces in Tlingit Formline by Robert Davis Hoffmann

Form. Line.

If you’ve lived in southeast Alaska long enough, you may have heard stories of “giant octopus” as big as a boat. My father saw such a monstrous octopus in his lifetime. It was throwing killer whales onto the beach. I have done a few sketches of this. The one below will become a painting. Soon.

Daily Sketch Tlingit Formline octopus killer whale Robert Davis Hoffmann

Octopus Killer Whale Battle

For my February 20 sketch, I went for simplicity. I wanted to have secondary filler shapes escaping their primary shapes. Because why not?

Breaking Out

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