[Ocean Oasis - Teacher's Guide]  Imágen Satelital de la Península de Baja California y el golfo de California See Spanish version
human icon [Activity 12]
[Art with Natural Materials]

Thousands of years ago, what materials might a person have used for painting or drawing?

In the Film

A pack train of burros is seen walking up a trail and across a creek, stopping to drink in the shadow of canyon palms. Long ago, in caves and on cliff walls above some of these canyons, people depicted a variety of animal and human forms. The paintings were created with charcoal and pigments made from local rocks.


Resources come from natural materials.


To create artwork using natural materials


Science, visual arts, history/social studies


drawing of rabbit paintingIt is thought that people reached the Baja California peninsula about 12,000 years ago. However, little is known about the people who painted the cave murals in Baja California or how long ago they were painted. Estimates of the age of the paintings, known as pictographs, range from 2000 to 10,000 years. The artwork is mostly of humans and assorted animals. The figures are nearly always larger than life-size. It appears that the paintings were outlined with chalk and then filled in with color—mostly pigments from red rock and black from charcoal. In 1993 the cave mural region was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

On the Web

See the Ocean Oasis Field Guide for photographs of cave paintings, and information about the geography, climate, and vegetation of the Sierra San Francisco, where the cave paintings in Ocean Oasis were filmed.


Red or brown clay (commercial modeling type) or dug from the ground, burned wood from a fireplace (charcoal), art paper or brown paper grocery bags, sketches of cave mural figures (next page), small paintbrush, water



  • Discuss the use of natural materials for arts and crafts.
  • Mix some mud or mash some commercial clay with water to form paint. Use the charcoal or chalk to draw some of the figures pictured on page 31. Fill in with the paint and charcoal. Use a brush or your fingers. In the black and white pictures (next page), white represents red paint and black represents charcoal. If red clay is not available, use brown clay.

drawing or snake with red paint Local Connection

    Research native artwork where you live. What was made long ago or is still made? Baskets? Pottery? Sand paintings? Bark paintings? Wood carvings? Other crafts? What materials were used or are used now? What is the source of these materials?

Key Word


Teacher's Guide Contents
Field Guide | Site Index | Ocean Oasis: The Film

Quail Logo © 2000 San Diego Natural History Museum