I just got back from my Dream Vacation That is Not a Vacation.
My journey into the caves.
With the guidance of Dr. Carol Aalbers, we had special, personalized tours in multiple caves containing Paleolithic paintings.
But we didn’t just go visit the caves. We then took time to process what we experienced together using art, movement, and dream exploration.
I toured five caves, plus a rock shelter.
I realize that I am an artist who blogs, not a travel blogger, so I will simply tell you which caves I visited, then talk about the impact they had on me.
By the way- photography is not allowed inside the caves, so I am showing images I have pulled off websites devoted to the caves.
Lascaux Cave is one of the most impressive and famous Paleolithic art caves in the world. Its so famous that it had to be closed to the public- the breath of so many visitors deteriorated the paintings. So, several replicas have been made. Lascaux is the only cave I saw on this trip that was a replica.
Although the replica is truly impressive, being in the actual caves is incomparable.
Below are the four real caves I got to see.
A Profound Experience
Imagine going underground into a cave. The atmosphere is totally different than the world above. It’s cool, it’s dark, it’s damp. You shuffle along with your tour companions, contemporary human beings with backpacks and rain jackets.
Now, imagine not just hand prints, but mysterious graphic signs, dots, and beautiful, elegant drawings.
For me, it was an extraordinary, almost mystical experience.
In between the days saw the caves, we would stay at our B&B and make art. The artmaking was facilitated by Kirah Van Sickle. She guided me through art processes using materials that I am not used to, using colors I wouldn’t normally choose, in a format I’ve never done before.
First, I created two small paintings on paper, using stencils, little sponge rollers, watercolor pencils, collage, and something called a gelli plate, which is a way to make monotypes.
Then, we folded up large pieces of paper to make little tiny 3x3 inch books, which we then adorned, using the same materials.
The materials and approach was entirely different than what I normally do, and it brought me away from my routine- and my artistic tricks! I was forced to become more imaginative and loose, and it was a lot of fun.
The Essence of Art
Why do art? Why do I do what I do?
I struggle with making art I describe as "performative," by which I mean, result-oriented. I can easily slide into the territory of doing something for the sake of approval.
So, there’s a tension, because on the one hand, I want to do artwork that’s good quality and appeals to people. But on the other hand, I want to make art that purely authentic and comes from my heart.
Going into those caves and seeing work from artists/shamans from tens of thousands of years ago really brought me into direct connection with the fundamental drive humans have to dream, to communicate, to create and express ourselves. It reminds me that this is my primary missive, sales and accolades be damned.
Are there ways that I could present finished work that features my drawing? Does it have to be anything other than what it simply is?
This trip was a profound experience, and I feel very different. My hope is that this difference will continue to grow in my heart and mind, and that it will inform my artmaking from this time forward.
Now, off to make some art!
Take a Closer Look.
Here is an intimate, in depth glimpse into my thoughts, inspiration and artistic process.
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