Using Formline Ovoids in Unusual Patterns

I’ve posted some images and articles about ovoid variations. There is one ovoid filler I use quite a bit. That’s the ovoid with a side profile of a face. The face itself is not necessarily a human face. It often indicates either a movable joint or movement in general.

Ovoids as Body Parts or Fillers

You will see the use of this face in movable body parts, including eyes, hands and feet, and so forth. I have used a version of this face at the base of a killer whale dorsal fin to represent a traveling killer whale.

I’ve used the circular version of this face even to represent salmon eggs. It’s become a pretty common item in my designs.

Today, I’m posting sketchbook images in which I use the ovoid in other than usual ways. I interlaced them in an earlier blog post, and for my January 29 daily sketch, I started by designing from the center and layering many overlapping ovoids to create a circular swirling design. Here’s the sketch colored in, followed by the initial layout:

January 29 Tlingit Formline Sketch Robert Davis Hoffmann

Sea of Faces

January 29 Tlingit Formline Sketch Robert Davis Hoffmann

Sea of Faces

Figuring Out The Face Details

These ovoid faces are relatively simple: a typical outer ovoid, and the face for filler. The face itself is an eye and eyebrow, cheek, mouth and nostril.

On page 44 of Bill Holm’s Northwest Coast Art: An Analysis of Form, there are a few examples of different kinds of eyebrow shapes.

When I’m sketching one of these faces, I like to visualize the somewhat tilted line where the mouth will go. This is important because the top of the upper lip is the lower part of the eye socket. I draw the entire mouth and nostril, and then figure out the placement and size of the eye pupil.

After I sketch the mouth and nostril, I draw the eyebrow. Eyebrows have a thicker edge on one end, tapering to a thinner edge toward the nostril. The peak of the eyebrow is directly above the pupil. It looks odd if it is too offset from this peak. Eyebrows can be short or very long, sometimes even touching the nostril. Study a lot of formline and you’ll see lots of possibilities.


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