Updated: Aug 6, 2019
MommyO guides you along mini-adventures in fine art & fun art. Questions are BOLD. (Answers are ITALIC.) Hands-On Doodles™ are FUN!
“You don't have to be a caveman to appreciate Lascaux.” ― Walter 'Darby' Bannard
Art has been around for a very long time and can be traced all the way back to the Paleolithic Age — also known as the Old or Early Stone Age. Scientists consider prehistoric man to have existed long before the Paleolithic Age. Though, this era did mark a significant turning point in human history as man began to develop and use tools in his daily life.
Made from stone, antler, bone, and ivory — some of these tools helped man record life events in the form of cave art. Historically, these drawings are the earliest form of storytelling with art. What's truly amazing is that thousands of years later, these stories have helped modern man to unlock some of the mysteries surrounding his prehistoric predecessors.
What does prehistoric mean? (Answer: relating to or denoting the period of time before written records, including the Paleolithic Age.) The Paleolithic Age began 2.6 million years ago and ended 12,000 years ago. It was the longest Stone Age period. Millions of years is a long time and difficult to imagine. Can you imagine 2.6 million years ago? (Child response.)
One of the most famous collections of Paleolithic art can be found at Lascaux Cave in southwest France. It is a complex of passages and chambers housing well over 600 drawings on interior walls and ceilings. These cave drawings are pretty amazing! As contemporary abstract artist Walter 'Darby' Bannard said about understanding and appreciating art of any kind, "You don't have to be a caveman to appreciate Lascaux."
From the animal pictures at Lascaux, archaeologists estimate the age of the drawings to be around 17,000 years old. The variety of styles tells them that multiple family members and multiple generations contributed to these stories on the cave walls so very long ago. What is a generation? (Answer: a group of people born and living at about the same time.)
What generations do you have in your family? (Answer: examples — children including brothers, sisters, and cousins; parents, aunts, and uncles; grandparents, great aunts, and great-uncles; great-grandparents, etc.) How many people are there in your family? (Child response.) With the possibility for so many people in a family, it's easy to understand how difficult it would be to determine exactly who drew on these walls. Therefore, the artists remain listed as 'unknown.'
Although our featured artwork for today's Hands-On Doodle™ may not have a known artist, the work itself has come to be known as 'Bird-Headed Man with a Bison.' What objects do you see in this cave drawing and how would you describe them? (Answer: examples — a bison, drawn in heavy, black lines with bristly fur details; a barbed spear; a less-detailed human figure with a bird head, perhaps a mask; a bird on a pole; to the left, we see the partial outline of another animal; etc.)
What story do you think this artwork is telling? (Answer: examples — this appears to be a hunting scene, in which some type of interaction has taken place between the animals and the bird-headed human figure; the bison seems hurt by the spear; the human might be hurt; archaeologists remain puzzled by the bird head on the human figure and the bird sitting atop a stick very close to him; etc.)
What colors do you see? (Answer: examples — black, white, brown, red, yellow, etc.) The cave drawings at Lascaux were created by the artists using a limited palette of just five colors — black, white, brown, red, and yellow — all made from the local mineral pigments available to them.
How would you like to do a fun, hands-on activity to help you feel like a Paleolithic artist today? (Child response.) You're going to create your own cool cave drawing using the same prehistoric palette!
Before we begin the cave drawing part of the doodle today, what are some of your most favorite family stories? (Child response. Discuss the stories and how to depict them in a drawing.) This cave art project will be an excellent way for you to experience storytelling with art!
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Kraft Paper Cave Art
Kraft Paper (Brown Paper Bag)
Cut a large rectangular piece from the kraft paper. If using a brown paper bag, plan for using a side with no printing.
Crumple the kraft paper — then smooth the paper flat so that you can create the appearance of rock, on which to draw your cave art and tell your story.
Now, thinking about your most favorite family stories, create a cave drawing on the kraft paper. Use the black crayon to outline the objects in your drawing; then fill in your objects using white, brown, red, and yellow — all colors similar to the pigments available to prehistoric man.
Remember, the purpose of your drawing is storytelling with art. You want your artwork to tell a story that people will be able to understand thousands of years from today — just like those on the walls and ceilings at Lascaux.
Once you're done, hang your cave art on the wall (or even on the ceiling!) and pretend you’re a prehistoric cave-dweller, just like the artists who painted our featured artwork named ‘Bird-Headed Man with a Bison.’
How many generations are there in your family?
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If you enjoyed this Hands-On Doodle™ and your mini-adventure in fine art using 'Storytelling with Art — Cave Style,' check out our Hands-On Kits & Kaboodles™ page for more fun adventures in fine art for the whole family!