A Modern Day Cave Artist
Thirty-four years ago, I was working part-time at the U.C. Berkeley Paleontology Museum while studying Fine Art. The two became linked in my imagination. Later, after seeing some of the caves in France I wanted to bring home a souvenir that captured the magic and primitive feel of the caves, but found only mass produced kitsch. I thought I could do better, so I have been researching, experimenting and creating cave art ever since.
I spend hours at the stone yard, looking at the colors and textures of stone, looking for the forms of animals or people that lie in them. Each expedition yields about 100 pounds of interesting rocks. I shape the rock with a hammer and chisel, some of the more brittle stones shattering into sharp, unusable bits. Out of 100 lbs. of rock, I usually get about 60 lbs. of usable pieces. Once I’ve roughly shaped a stone, I rub it with another stone to smooth the surface and edges, brighten the colors, open the pores and give the stone a weathered ancient feel. I use the same painting techniques that paleolithic artists used, the main difference being I use an airbrush to blow light fast paint onto stone, rather than spitting pigment mixed with cave water out of my mouth (I’d like to live longer than they did!) and my paintings are smaller than the originals for portability. I use the same pigments, and sgraffito scraping techniques and am constantly exploring paleo art imagery and symbols, trying to recreate non-literate communication, and beauty, on stone.