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Denver Watercolor Class Teacher Dennis Pendleton

The Birth of the Art Spirit

Mixed Media Painting by Dennis Pendleton. For several years now I have been working on a series of mixed media paintings based on the ancient cave paintings in Southern France and Spain. These paintings were created by the Cro Magnum people and some have been carbon dated as far back as 32,000 years. The fact that they survive today is astonishing and attributed to the caves having their own ecosystems. The Cro Magnum people had to make their own paints and they used charcoal, ground up minerals blood and what ever else they could find. Because these paintings were done in the deepest darkest parts of the caves they must have been painted by torchlight and oil lamps made from stone, remanent's of which have been found on some of the cave floors.

We can only speculate why these paintings were created and that only adds to the mystery. The animals they depicted, some of which no longer exist, are almost always in motion and seem to be emerging from the stone walls. This is because the Cro Magnum people used parts of the rock walls to depict parts of the animals thus creating a 3-D effect.

While working in the print room with master printer Mark Lunning, I developed a process where I use printers inks, watercolor, and pastel on hand made paper which contains all sorts of things like bits of gold and silver leaf, leaves, other chunks of colored paper, etc. I have no interest in recreating the exact images from the caves but rather I enjoy using brushes, sponges, rollers, and other tools to represent the cave walls while at the same time incorporating what I have learned from studying this fascinating period of ancient history. Horses were the favorite subject of the Cro Magnum people and there are hundreds of them depicted in the caves. I often incorporate horses in different sizes in the style of the ancient images in my own work and I wonder if there wasn't some special connection between the Cro Magnum people and horses way back then.

Art Historians have speculated that these ancient cave paintings represent the birth of the Art Spirit and I enjoy thinking about that when I am painting. To see more of my "Ancient Images" go to my website and look them up under portfolio. Happy Painting! Dennis Pendleton


Watercolor Artist's Blog by Dennis Pendleton

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