Heritage, Volume 7, Number 4, Fall 1989 Page: 9
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"Doughboy" panel at Site 41VV207. Human-like
figures on the right are interspersed with other
motifs and smaller figures. "Antler" figures to the
left may be counting or calendrical depictions.
Previous explorers in the region discovered
some of the rock shelters aboriginal
artists couldn't resist. In the 1930s, the
renowned rock art watercolorist Forrest J.
Kirkland recorded several sites in the
Devils River region. (See "Texas Rock
Art: Sixty Years of Preservation," Heritage,
Fall 1985.) Publication of his voluminous
illustrations helped bring the culture and
art of the entire Lower Pecos region to
Of the known rock art styles, the Pecos
River style-lordly and mysterious shamans
and abstract motifs probably depicting
events of ritual, trance, and visions-is
the most common. Animals, usually deer,
were commonly drawn impaled with
lances. Drawing them was an act of sympathetic
magic intended to ensure the success
of the hunt.
The later Red Linear style-painted
with less grandeur-is identified by stick
figures and pixie-like running animals.
Red Linear style scenes of hunting and
other social behavior were often painted
near Pecos River panels to incorporate the
earlier painting, e.g. Red Linear style
hunters stalking a line of large Pecos River
A few, but perhaps the most important
paintings, belong to the historic period,
and have added to recent research on the
history of the area, poorly recorded by
European immigrants. The paintings are
nearly unique in that they give the aboriginals'
perspective on the Europeans, not the
reverse, as is usually the case. They depict
missions, priests, soldiers, cattle, warfare,
and the population movements of the
native groups themselves.
Knowing the area contained important
rock art, TAS organized a recording survey
in addition to its site survey and excavation
programs. Spearheaded by current Society
president Teddy Stickney, from the Midland
chapter, the rock art survey took as its
mission the most extensive recording
possible of rock art in the area. Planning
assistance was provided by Nola Montgomery
of the Texas Parks and Wildlife
Department and Ed Aiken of the Office of
the State Archeologist.
The known sites had many deteriorated
panels and motifs, so adequate recording
would have to go beyond ordinary photographic
techniques. As Dr. Solveig Turpin,
associate director of Texas Archeological
Research Labs, said, "Artistic renditions
similar to Kirkland's watercolor copies are
needed at sites so faded that photography
cannot fully capture the images." (See
"The Vanishing Rock Art of Texas
Indians," Heritage, Spring, 1987.) And so
the needs of the rock art program boiled
down to three: mapping the rock art in its
exact position, or provenience, within the
rock shelter; photographing the art precisely
and in scale; and making scaled
...a visit to rock art
in its natural setting
is a journey through
with the earth itself.
drawings which could be translated into
other artistic media.
When these goals were established, the
actual procedures needed to accomplish
them were reduced to a series of steps to be
followed when the rock art team climbed
into the rockshelter. The effect of this
strategy and set of procedures was to create
a layered or tiered recording method.
The first layer was the MAPPING, which
recorded the position of all the rock art
within any one rockshelter. This was a
foundation to the scholarly study of all the
other imagery-photographed, drawn, or
painted. The mapping required measuring
off the rockshelter from one end to the
other at the base of the rock wall and
sketching or describing on graph paper
every blotch of paint at its correct measured
point on the wall. Sketches didn't
have to be precise; they just had to show
what was where. Tracing off motifs on
overlaid sheets of mylar was helpful from
time to time in this tier.
PHOTOGRAPHY was the next layer. A
camera was mounted on a tripod and
moved along the wall to photograph every
running meter of the wall surface. Color
and tone correction charts and a scale were
included in every shot, usually by taping
them directly to the wall. Color and blackand-white
images were taken.
The last layer was a SCALED DRAWING of
all the recognizable rock art. The drawings
were made with pencil on graph paper.
Any convenient scale could be used as long
as it was reported on the drawing and the
picture was accurate. For large and complex
panels, a clear plastic sheet with a grid
drawn on it was placed over the painting to
help the artist keep the drawing in proportion.
Watercolor paintings were then
executed from the drawings, as time permitted,
so color could be matched from
direct observation of the rock art. When
time was pressing, a correct palette of
colors was worked out by mixing watercolors,
painting swatches, and labeling
HERITAGE * FALL 1989 9
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 7, Number 4, Fall 1989, periodical, Autumn 1989; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45433/m1/9/: accessed July 28, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.