Thursday, September 8, 2011

Lesson 1: Cave Paintings

Cave Paintings (specifically the Lascaux Caves)

internet access
flat stones (You can also use brown paper bag or brown construction paper. Try crinkling it up and then flattening it back out to give it a rock like texture.)
white charcoal or chalk
pastels in neutral colors

1- Present information to students:
Where are these cave paintings?
Lascaux is the setting of a complex of caves in southwestern France. (Find France on a map or globe. What Continent is France on? It’s not too important to talk much about France since these paintings were done way before it was a country.)
These paintings are estimated to be 17,300 years old.[1][2] They primarily consist of primitive images of large animals, most of which are known from fossil evidence to have lived in the area at the time.
The cave was discovered on September 12, 1940 by four teenagers and their dog.[4] The cave was opened to visitors at one time but had to be closed due to damage to the artwork. Rooms in the cave include The Hall of the Bulls, the Passageway, the Shaft, the Nave, the Apse, and the Chamber of Felines.
What are common subject matter in cave paintings?
The most common themes in cave paintings are large wild animals, such as bison, horses, aurochs, and deer, and tracings of human hands as well as abstract patterns, called finger flutings. Drawings of humans are rare.

2- View the Hall of the Bulls- 
I used the images found at this site:
We discussed what animals we saw as well as the colors used. I explained to the students that the artists were using things found in nature to make these drawings. There was no Crayola!
This virtual tour might be a nice option. I didn't look at it too long because that sort of thing uses up too much internet here.
3- Assignment- 
We are going to make our own cave like drawings on rocks. Let’s consider what animals we see in Tanzania (or where ever you live). Let students offer answers.
in Geita- cows, goats, chickens, donkeys, dogs, baboons
in Tanzania- elephants, lions, ostrich, zebra, impala, giraffee....
Each student needs to choose one animal to draw. If needed pull up pictures online to assist the students. Most kids won't need this, but older kids who are more concerned with realism might.
Have them draw an outline of their animal using charcoal. If they mess up wipe it off with a damp towel and begin again.
Use neutral colored pastels to add color and the white to add highlights. To help my students do highlights I showed them a stainless steel salt shaker. I asked them if they could see a very light or white line on the salt shaker. That is the highlight. It's just one line where the light is hitting most. I demonstrated on my own rock how to put just a few lines of white to be a highlight on the animal. 
4- I'm planning on doing a timeline with the students and each week we will put the art we have studied on the timeline. I didn't have it ready this week, so we'll add this when the timeline is up.

After the rocks are finished spray them lightly with hairspray to seal the drawings. If you don't do this they will smudge when touched. One of our's had issues when sprayed. The charcoal, but not the pastels, ran in the hairspray. I may have been spraying a bit too close. Start out far away and ease into it. I actually think it just makes the drawing look a bit aged, but it's not ideal when a student spent a good deal of time on their drawing.

The factual information in this post came from Wikipedia and my own memory from school. The Wikipedia page includes much more info than I have included here.

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