Deviation in Tlingit Formline Rules: Ovoid Squared

It’s good to stretch creatively, whether in trying unconventional art media, using experimental color schemes, or breaking out of a personal style.

Years ago, circa 1984, I started teaching at the Sitka Fine Arts Camp. I taught Tlingit Formline only back then. Later I started teaching woodcarving. But early on, I saw students doing some pretty wild things because they hadn’t been indoctrinated into rigid design rules.

That influenced me to become more experimental myself. This required giving myself permission to break out of the “traditional” rules of formline. I actually had some coaxing from other instructors way back as early as 1976 in art school.

I’m able to come up with some paintings that I’ve been pretty happy with that employs both “traditional” and “contemporary” (I don’t like those terms, myself) formline. Here are a couple:

Raven's Bag of Tricks by Robert Davis Hoffmann, Tlingit Artist

Raven’s Bag of Tricks

Tree of Life at Stonington Gallery

Tree of Life at Stonington Gallery

You can see in “Raven’s Bag of Tricks” how I’ve combined both geometric, angular shapes and lines with the more traditional rounded shapes. I’ve also used a thalo green acrylic just because I like it.

The “Tree of Life” painting (at the Stonington Gallery in Seattle) employs the same technique of combining geometric angles with the rounded formlines. I’ve also used three quite different styles: the animals in the tree branches are more traditional style, the figures crawling up and down the tree capillaries are very thin formline, and the faces below are in the Chilkat blanket style.

It’s very freeing to me to work outside the box when I can. I want to continue learning new techniques that give me more freedom.

This morning’s Daily Tlingit Sketch started by turning the ovoid shape into an angular ovoid, and then I just continued from there. Today’s sketch shows that I need much more practice in shading. Here it is:

Tlingit Art Daily Sketch Jan 16 - Squared Ovoid

Ovoid Squared

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