From Cave Walls to Clay Images

By Stone, Julie | School Arts, January 2004 | Go to article overview

From Cave Walls to Clay Images


Stone, Julie, School Arts


About 15,000 BC, the bison and other animals roamed the land and cave people, in their spare time, found colorful, chalky rocks to play with. Over the course of time, they found that the chalky rocks would rub off on the cave walls, thus cave paintings and the pursuit of art was born.

Objectives

This art history lesson of the first artists was taught to fourth grade students. One objective for this two-week lesson was for students to learn how prehistoric peoples used art to communicate by using simple tools to make images and natural materials for paints. Another objective was to learn how to create a three-dimensional picture of a prehistoric figure on a textured piece of construction paper.

Discovering

To introduce the lesson, I took students outside to draw a picture on the sidewalk with chalk. I told them their pictures could be objects they see, places they like to go, or animals. Once the pictures were complete, we discussed their experience of drawing outside on the sidewalk. Topics of discussion included: texture (How did the ground feel? How did the chalk feel?); the reaction of the chalk on the sidewalk (Was it difficult to draw a detailed picture due to the texture of the sidewalk and the soft, powdery chalk?); and the drawing (Does it tell a story? Why did you draw that particular subject?).

Looking and Learning

Students studied and discussed artworks from the caves in Lascaux, France and Altamira, Spain. We studied the rough textures and colors seen on the cave walls. Through our discussion, students were able to compare and contrast their sidewalk chalk drawings to the cave paintings, recognizing the bumpy textures and uneven surfaces. We also discussed the cave people's use of natural materials for tools and pigments. Through observation and discussion, students discovered that wall paintings told a story of what prehistoric people saw and did in their daily lives.

Creating

First, students created texture by placing a plastic textured rubbing plate under the black construction paper and rubbing with gold, silver, brown, and yellow crayons. …

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