I’ve been designing in Tlingit formline style for many years. So long that images just come to mind if I let myself go into a state where “it just happens.” This is something mystical to me. It is more about intuition, a subconscious knowing.
On the other hand, there is another source of inspiration, and that is from just being aware of the world around me. This is more about discernment, a conscious awareness. I see Tlingit shapes in all sorts of things: in wood grain, in frosty windows, in shadows, in looking at negative space. There’s never a shortage of ideas when you look for ideas in things.
I’ve always been interested in the etymology of words. The word ‘inspire’ for example in + spire = to breathe in. ‘Spire’ is the root of the word ‘spirit.’ For me, to create connects me to my own spirit, and at the same time my spirit is connecting to the universe. It’s a very personal experience. I don’t always know where the process will take me.
The other day one of my crossword puzzle clues was “Three roads in Latin.” It surprised me that the answer was “trivia,” describing where one road split into two roads. That’s where my mind was when I began sketching this morning, I wanted to illustrate this forked road and work in Tlingit designs. Rather interesting way to start a design, to trisect my drawing pad and then fill in.
I’ve started other designs this way, first splitting my drawing paper into defined sections. In my painting “Our Land” I wanted to represent Sky People, Land People, and Sea People. I knew from the start my design would be split into three layers representing the three realms of sky, land and sea.
After I had that established, it was easy to then subsection the three layers into the animals body sections.
Tlingit formline is very adaptive this way, you can fit a design to that it fits literally any shape or surface. A good teacher once compared it to drawing on a deflated balloon that can then be stretched, distorted, or compacted in any way and the design still makes sense.
Here’s this morning’s Tlingit Formline Daily Sketch, not so elegant overall, but I can use it for future ideas: