Artist & Writer, San Francisco Bay Area

Lascaux Caves

I had my first Art Class in my Art Studio.

It actually looks like a studio now since I set up this class and had to bust a move to get it ready in time. It has been a storage room for three years, and we’ve been slowly cleaning it out since my mom relocated here from Southern California and had a whole home to sort through. That process is almost done.

This is what we did… (and I am hoping to keep a record of what we do here, so that anyone can duplicate them. In this case, copying would be a sincere form of flattery- go ahead. Just credit me if any credit is due, thanks.) Also, I want to keep a record of what I taught for future reference to save me time.

My art lessons generally focus on mixing art history with the practice of art. We use the artwork of masters as inspiration. (Masters ranging from pre-historic– as you can see– to modern.) 

Prehistoric Art at Lascaux Caves in France– taught to 5-8 year olds

I. Art History:

Told the story of the caves. Included points like these for this age group- the story of the boys who discovered the cave in 1940. The nature of the cave (paintings on sloped walls and ceilings, not just flat in front of them.) How it changed the way people thought about prehistoric humans (were thinking people.) They were more than just hunters & gatherers. That evidence was found at the site that indicated that the artists practiced their work. They may have had older artists teach younger artists. So art has been important to humans since early times. And they practiced it to make it better & better.

(We were sitting in circle for story-time environment. Then I asked them to find the poster with the art class rules that I made. I located it on a sloped ceiling so they could physically see what it would be like to paint on a surface above them rather than flat on a table or on a wall.)

II. Rules:

Reviewed rules as we sat at table: a.) listen to the art teacher b.) treat the art supplies correctly c.) be kind to your art- i.e. no scribbling out or getting angry at own art d.) no drawing on other’s art (incl. me- I will not draw on their art.) e.) Have fun (a classic rule.) I believe in enforcing the rules but am not good at it. I am such a free-for all kinda spirit, but a group of children doing art can get a little wild. Still figuring this out.

III. Art Practice: (meaning not practice like practice makes perfect, but practice as in the practice of medicine, the practice of art.)

1. Gave them pencils. We practiced different lightness & heaviness ways to use pencil to make light & dark markings. Saw all diff ways to use pencil. Practiced following directions on drawing a horse so I could a.) see their drawing skills b.) see their personalities in following directions c.) make sure I did it right when it counted. Used a large blank newsprint folded into fours. Will use this each week until filled up. They can take it home at end of session.

2. We moved as a group to the floor. Used chalk pastels to do rubbings over the texture of the rocks. Examined qualities of the rock & saw how that impacted our rubbings.(Next time will let them practice with pastel & charcoal, too, before launching into the new art supply.)

3. Back at table, blended with foam brushes.

4. Began to draw horses, step by step instruction. Some students were very confident, others tentative. All turned out beautifully. I watched stories grow in their work. Discussed the shapes that built their horses.

5. Used charcoal to draw over penciled horse. Discussed how charcoal comes from burnt wood. Told them to ask parents to check their fireplace for burnt wood to see how it draws.

Kept referencing the art we talked about. Manner in which that work was done. What we learned about practicing. Reinforced notions of being kind to own art. Did a lot of zig-zagging between students.

IV. Art Discussion

We moved outside so I could spray fixative on the pastels. Helped each child discuss their favorite parts of their own work. Some children remarked what they liked about others’ work also. Sweet! I try to listen to the stories they tell with the idea that once inside, we will be attaching the work to a “matte” and giving titles to the work & signing it. Some children are clear that they don’t want to title it, which is fine. Others need to be reminded what they were saying during discussion to be able to come up with a title. Others change it once they get inside as they are forming their ideas about their own work.

Next time I will revisit the Art History at the end, making sure they say “Las-cow Caves” a couple times. 

All in all, a great group to work with.

What will I do this coming week?

Not sure yet! 

But it’s every Thursday at 3:30. Exciting. Really my own students. Love it. 

Summary for 5-8 year old class on Lascaux Caves.

Art History: We discussed the Lascaux Cave Paintings in France, and how early humans took the time to create beautiful pictures on the walls of the caves. Vocabulary: Line, Texture, Shapes that build drawings.

Art Learning Methods: Following directions, inspiration, treating their art kindly

Art Techniques: Rubbings

Art Materials: Charcoal, Pastels

4 Replies to “Lascaux Caves”

  •!!!! I’m grateful and so honered to have Jack be in this class. Really I’m so glad you wrote this out, I’m blown away and looking forwad to reenforcing what you taught him. Thank you.

  • Hey thanks Heather! And Courtney, I always knew I had local lurkers- now I KNOW!! LOL. Yeah, sometime you can come and HELP not watch! heh heh

  • That’s fine. I can totally do that. 🙂 Of course, I don’t remember all my art history so I’ll stick to helping them draw. LOL

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