illustration: Dorian Melton “Not the Flintstones”, 1987.  22” x 30”, conte chalks on watercolour paper


Have you ever wondered when humans first began to make art?

Imagine a campfire in the distant prehistorical past with sticks being shaped to hold bits of fresh meat over the fire for a meal. Having sharpened a stick well enough to do what was necessary; perhaps one of our ancestors scratched an extra mark or two to add pure decoration to their cooking tool (as a parent; I can easily imagine that doing so might have been one tactic employed to keep scrappy siblings from battling to establish ownership of the same stick).

I love a good “origin” story as so many beginnings can only be visualized through the power of imagination. I hope you will enjoy the following article found on the Smithsonian Second Opinion website as much as I did.

From the article The Ancient origins of Art.(

“Back in the ’60s and ’70s, Paleolithic archeologists considered art as just kind of the cherry on the cake if you like—art wasn’t considered to be evolutionarily important. It’s what you did if you had time to do it, but it really didn’t serve an evolutionary function; it had no adaptive value. I think we’ve gone very far from that to a position today where we think that symbolic behavior is absolutely critical to the way that human societies interact and are structured.”

– interview of Randall White, paleoanthropologist, by William Allman


About the illustration: This drawing is based on a photo taken while visiting a Dinosaur park in the vicinity of Cobourg Ontario in 1987. This particular style lasted for exactly 3 drawings and no more. – D.M.