Explorations in Ancient Art Workshops

EMAIL US TO SIGN UP! programs@placernaturecenter.org

These outdoor workshops are presented to re-introduce the public to the Natural World via our shared human heritage, through arts education, ancient skills training and traditional environmental knowledge. Participants will gain hands-on experience in creating art in the same manner of our ancient ancestors, using only materials found in the natural environment! 

Workshops will be facilitated by Chuck Kritzon of Willow Deer Education, and be held the 4th Saturday of the month, starting in March. Each workshop runs from 10am to 4pm (including a break for lunch) and costs $95 (includes material fee). Workshops are for adults and mature, focused teens.

Primitive – Prime – First

Participants/ students completing multiple workshops will gain competency in the basic primitive skills utilized by ancient peoples to survive in a prehistoric world, as they are the same skills needed to create art and artifacts.  

Workshop participants will master how to make a wide variety of ornaments, beads, paint, brushes, toys, games and musical instruments using natural materials from the local environment and around the world. Learning how to make the stone and bone tools needed to create these replicas is an integral part of these workshops.  

Gifts from the Plant Peoples, Animal Peoples and Stone Peoples.

Participants will learn that before the end of the last Ice Age our ancestors were creating amazing works of art using only materials respectfully gathered from the natural world around them. They fashioned beads and ornaments, made paint from colored earth and used it all to decorate themselves and the world in which they lived. They also created games and musical instruments to pass time or to perhaps interact with the spirit world.

This workshop series will explore the physical, mental and/or spiritual processes involved with gathering natural, raw materials and how those materials were transformed to create ancient examples of individual personal expression. 

Although many of these ancient artists did live in caves, and wore clothing made from animal skins, their cultures were as rich and vibrant as any found today. Pablo Picasso, after viewing the 17,500-year-old cave paintings of Lascaux Cave, in Southern France, exclaimed, “We have learned nothing!”

These workshops will be challenging, but the reward of having mastered these eons old techniques will give you a genuine appreciation for the skills, knowledge and cultural depths of our ancient ancestors and of their intimate knowledge of, and relationship with the Natural World. 

Beads, Ornaments and Pendants: Saturday March 26

Why did people start making beads and ornaments 140,000 years ago? What materials were used and how were they made? 

Workshop participants will make beads and pendants and learn how to make and use the saws, drills, abraders and polishers used to create these personal expressions of ancient art. There will be a variety of samples of ancient beads and ornaments from around the world to view.

Materials will include pine nuts, bird wing bones, ostrich eggshell, abalone and soapstone for students to make their own beads and ornaments. Other unique materials will be available to experiment with. Participants will also explore how simple string was made to suspend their new creations.

Pigments, Binders and Brushes: Saturday April 23

Humans have been gathering and utilizing colored earth for over 200,000 years. Brushing wet pigment onto an object, human body or cave wall was only the last of many steps, which allowed the ancient artist to express their thoughts, feelings, intents or beliefs. 

In this fast moving workshop you will take a deep dive into the Paleolithic world where you will learn how the ancients gathered and ground earth colors. Then using only stone, bone, natural fibers and adhesives, you will learn to create the binders, brushes and tools to paint, daub and spray these living pigments onto stone, wood and rawhide to tell your own story. You will also have the opportunity to experience what it was like to create art in a cave darkness with only the dancing and flickering of a small fat lamp to illuminate your work.

Workshop fee includes a personal kit of stone, bone, rawhide, fiber, feathers, shells and hand gathered earth pigments to make the tools, brushes, containers and paints that you will take home.

Bone and Cane Whistles and Flutes: Saturday May 28

Humans have been making bone whistles and flutes for at least 35,000 years. In this workshop you will master the ancient techniques of making whistles out of both bone and cane, complete with cords and decorations.

To craft these items, you will make/identify a variety of stone saws and drills and learn to make pine pitch adhesive. Using these tools the class will cut, shape and drill bones and river cane to make loud whistles. Examples and an overview of other ancient methods for creating music and rhythm will be demonstrated. The techniques you will learn can be applied to creating a flute if time allows.

Providing Environmental Education since 1991