Art making is communication.
When we look in wonder at the cave paintings of Chauvet, Lascaux, and the hundreds of other caves in southern France and Spain, we are communicating with the human beings who put these onto stone thousands of years ago. Similar cave paintings appear all over the world, including right here in southern California. In many ways these images communicate better than letters and words ever could. They speak to us directly from thousands of years in the past. They are an attempt by a person to say “Look. Look what I saw.”
What is more amazing is the fact is that the artists creating these were not drawing from a still life or making copies from photographs… they were drawing from their minds and from memory.
The artists of these ancient cave paintings had no doubt seen the animals which they were drawing onto stone. They would have observed the animals in action, studied their movements, stood close to them at sunrise. The artists carried the images and the movements of these animals in their bodies and minds. The beautiful and elegant images they put onto the walls of the caves were a reflection from memory, and an expression of the beauty and majesty of the animals from memory. This is profound.
This process of reflection and expression is a vital skill for any human being. It can be harnessed to create great art, and it can also be a way for a person to comprehend and express grief, love, pain, and wonder and to allow others to comprehend and feel with them.
We are all artists in our own way. In order to express ourselves, we must have a language. The language can be made of words, movements, sounds, numbers, or forms. The language of pictures and forms is one of the simplest and most readily understood languages, and it is an ample language with which to engage in the process of reflection and expression.