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The Shapes Used in Northwest Indian Art

With further analysis of Northwest Indian art, it can be realized that the different shapes used by Northwest Native artists in their artwork are what produces the characteristic Northwest look. Each of these main shapes is discussed below with examples shown from authentic artwork by Northwest Native artists.

The Formline of Northwest Indian Art

The formline of Northwest Indian art is the main line that outlines the body of the subject whether it is a person or animal. Different parts of the subject such as the head, joints and other body parts (arms, legs, wings, etc.) are defined by the formline. The formline is usually black in color but can sometimes be red. The thickness of the formline itself can change at various places and contains all the other shapes used for a subject.

The Ovoid Shape of Northwest Indian Art

The ovoid is the most dominant shape in Northwest Native art. It is like a rounded rectangle with inner tension pushing the top to form a convex, similar to the shape of a bread slice. The lower side is sometimes seen with a concave at the bottom. These oval like shapes vary in size proportions depending on the kind of subject or creature they are used to symbolize but all ovoids have the same common qualities whether they are long and slender or fat and round. Larger ovoids may be used to form the head of a subject, eye sockets, major joints, wings, tails or fins. Smaller ovoids may be used to form joints, eyes, ears, noses or contain faces. Sometimes ovoids are used to help fill empty spaces and corners.

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Ovoids can be solid (completely color filled) or open with inside space. Inner ovoids are smaller, usually solid ones that go inside a larger open ovoid. Below are examples of this. The combination can be observed in the formation of eyeballs.

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Examples of Northwest Indian Art Ovoids

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