Native American Paintings

Native Americans have many different skills, and artwork was one of the standout features of their culture. Sculptures, rugs, and baskets were the most popular forms of art, but paintings were a little scarcer. If there were paintings, it was often just simple accent painting used to decorate headdresses, clothing, or on teepee's. Some Native American paintings, however, were much more than that and were intricate pieces of artwork that depicted the life of the American Indian. Some of the earliest forms of painting were not the type of paintings we think of today, such as oils on canvas. Instead, they were etchings, usually on the inside of caves that showed story lines of different generations. These cave paintings are the earliest form of artwork found on American soil, and show how the Native Americans hunted, interacted, and lived.

Often, the Native American painting style was very impressionist in nature. The paintings showed landscapes, people, or symbols of various spirits such as the wolf, snake, or moon. While some of the paintings were done for spiritual expression, many were simply a means to record things, and serve as a sort of document. Since there were no cameras or videotapes, painting was a way to keep a permanent record of what was happening at the time. Petroglyphs, or rock paintings, are the oldest record of such documentation. Later, vegetables, berries, and flowers served as a means to produce color onto different mediums in order to paint. Wood was a common canvas instead of the modern canvases of today. Over the decades, the Native American paintings became more detailed, giving us perspective into their amazing lives.

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