Have you ever heard of “Cueva de los Manos”? It translates, “Cave of the Hands” and is located in Santa Cruz, Argentina. I discovered its existence when I started teaching myself art history. In lieu of taking an art history course, I acquired an art history book so I could learn at my own pace. I wanted to recreate my own version of art throughout history. Obviously, I began with cave art. I read about it in the book, did some googling and watched some documentaries. Anything that truly fascinated me, I just dug deeper.
The Cave Way
Between 9,000 and 13,000 years ago, people dwelled in this cave around Santa Cruz, Argentina. They left their mark by stenciling their own hands on the cave walls with sprayed paint. I found this absolutely fascinating. I wanted to know HOW they spray painted without aerosol! Eventually, I found my answer: They ground up plants and minerals to use as pigment and used animal fats and water to create a binder. Then, they poured their paint into a shell. They used bones from bird wings and placed one bone into the mixture and one into their mouths. Then, they placed their hand on the cave wall and blew the paint onto it.
Now, I wasn’t going to go about this quite the same way, but I did want a more modern rendition of it so I set out on my art adventure. Basically, the method I came up with was to spray inks onto a canvas I’d textured to resemble the wall of a cave. Now, I did use gloves to protect my hands but in hind site I realized should have used longer ones to protect my wrists so I didn’t have to walk around looking like I’d just escaped a kidnapping because, with that color palette, I looked bruised and bloody for a few days until the ink stains finally faded. Later I decided to frame the piece and it really made the image pop.
This is a very personal piece for me and I love that it means different things to different people. It may very well have been the last piece I created before I started creating with gunpowder art. Though I haven’t gotten too far along my art walk through history, I’ve learned a lot and look forward to the next art-venture. It’s insane how much education an artist gets with each piece they create… or is that just me?
The photo on the left is the original “Cueva de los Manos” and the one on the right is my rendition.