What Goes on in My Mind While Doing Formline Design

Some things help me enter a more creative state to free me up to design less distracted from my own internal chatter. I have an anxiety disorder which can get in the way of my creative flow. On the other hand, doing my artwork more often than not abates my anxiety level.

Music in the background usually helps me work long periods of time. I have a playlist (I lean toward the Indi genre) 4 hours long for those times when I just don’t want to stop to change music. Music helps a person daydream, and daydreaming is where I go for design ideas.

I’ll usually let my mind go blank, just like my blank page in the sketchbook. Then whatever comes is what the universe, my muse, my ancestors, sends me. But I have to be in a calm state.

Once I begin drawing, painting, or carving, my mind continues to go wherever it goes. The process part of art is very freeing for me. It’s like fresh air, or clear water. Most times it feels like it is part of my vitality. And that’s only the process part.

There’s also the sense of identity and cultural meaning that feeds into my artwork. And a sense of pride. It’s nice, but not the end goal, to have others say they admire your work. It reminds me of my very early interest I took in our formline art. I was in 4th grade and I copied a design from one of Franz Boas’ books. After I was done painting it, my dad framed it and took it to my grade school principal, and had it placed in the glass display case in school. That’s etched in my memory.

While making my designs, or painting, or carving, I’ll revisit many memories. Because I’m in a certain creative state, the memories are very lucid and uninterrupted. People think I have a good memory, but it’s mostly because I revisit the past this way.

Bottom line: art is medicine. Here’s 3 pieces from my sketchbook:

Experieiment formline sketches Tlingit Robert Davis Hoffmann


Experieiment formline sketches Tlingit Robert Davis Hoffmann

Inspired by Old Works

Experieiment formline sketches Tlingit Robert Davis Hoffmann

A Very Different Killer Whale

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