Cave Painters of Lascaux

What an exciting start! I am super proud to teach the new Art Throughout the Ages curriculum. The reason I chose this curriculum is because I like how the art is combined with an art history element. Our goal is for the children to walk away from class understanding where the art originated from and why it was important to art history in addition to creating some works of art.

The Cave Painter of Lascaux by Roberta Angeletti and The First Drawing by Mordicai Gerstein were the stories that I led off with for the Ancient World art series. I chose them because the stories talked about the history behind the first drawings, how they were discovered, and how they may have come to be. The First Drawing is a fictional tale which tells us a story of a boy who imagines animals in clouds, shadows, and rocks. He wants to share his imagination with his family but does not know how. They are unable to understand his imagination and they end up discouraging him from such visions. Until......he leaps out of bed and grabs a burnt stick from the fire and begins to draw on the cave wall. His family is in such awe of his drawing and calls it MAGIC! They now understand his creative mind and he begins making more drawings.

Drawings in caves, like the Cave of Lascaux, helped us to understand the way of life for people 30,000 years ago. These drawings often depicted religious rituals, large animals, and sometimes hand prints of the people themselves. We learned how the Lascaux Cave was discovered in Southwest France on September 12, 1940 by a group of teenage boys and their dog. We looked at images of the cave walls and learned that after its discovery scientists determined the cave to be too fragile for people to view in the actual cave because the paintings were created using colored minerals. Air from exhalation and fungus that were tracked in began to deteriorate the cave art. Scientists and archeologists closed it to preserve it and had an exact replica made for all to see. Please check out the Bradshaw Foundation for great videos of the cave and beautiful pictures of the art.

For our practical session, I taught the kids how to draw basic animal shapes using the elements of shape: Circles, dots, straight lines, wavy lines and angle lines. Once they were able to look at an animal and determine the circle shapes for the head, trunk and hind quarter they then connected the body to appendages using straight, angled and curvy lines. Our goal is to get the children to look at objects and break them into shapes and lines.

Our Kindergarten and 1st graders had the fun task of painting a cave wall with acrylics and stamping their hands on to the splattered background, while some of our K-4th graders from my early class crumpled up paper shopping bags to give the appearance of the cave wall and then sketched those animals using the elements of shape. They then colored their art with chalk and oil pastels.

The 2nd-4th grade class as well as the 5th-8th graders dabbled in watercolor after sketching their animals! The results were of course amazing.

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