Rob introduced today’s nature-art workshop with a slide show of prehistoric nature art — cave paintings from Altamira, Chauvet, and Lasceaux in France. He pointed out that these vibrant works of art were created with just three colours: black, from charcoal, and red and yellow from iron-based ochre. The forms are simple yet evocative because the artists knew the anatomy and movements of their subject intimately and successfully portrayed them. And although the bulk of each bull or horse’s body might be merely outlined or simply blocked in, the fine details of the head, hoof or leg joints lend realism to the paintings. They are very, very old, but not primitive.

By way of advice to our young artists, he drew attention to the way even apparently simple outlines involved curves that swelled from thin lines to thick bands of pigment where the shadows would have fallen most heavily — a technique that can be achieved on paper by rolling a moving pencil from the vertical until it’s lying on its side.
Finally, he produced images of a magnificent cave painting from one place, and a small, engraved stone from another 300 km away. The genius of antiquity evidently carried a sketchbook with him.

And then everyone was turned loose to draw from nature, from magazine or internet images, or from the imagination. The results, produced within the hour, were collected for publication (and preservation) in our Little Bear magazine.