Timeless Devotion to Family: "Meet the Family" Petroglyph Art

How timeless are the feelings of pride we have in our families? Did your mom place a “Proud Parent of . . .” bumper sticker on her car or do you have those family decals in the back of your car window?

No matter the era, no matter the place we express it, the most important things in the world to people are family and love.

“The Family Panel,” Nine Mile Canyon, Utah.

That’s exactly what I thought when I saw these petroglyphs, even before I knew this was called “The Family Panel,” from Nine Mile Canyon, Utah. 

The largest figure says “Dad” to me, just as the shorter figure to the right with an obviously feminine waist says “Mom.”

The small figure between says “youngest child” to me, while the figure on the left with the bow looks like “big brother.”

The inclusion of bighorn sheep delights me; it’s so much like including a dog in the family portrait. 

A few years ago, I created a fine art, bas-relief piece based on “The Family Panel.” In my interpretation, I arranged the figures from largest to smallest, just as they usually appear in those popular family decal scenes you usually see on SUVs and minivans. 

Meet the Family Bas Relief Petroglyph Fine Art

"Meet the Family," low bas relief in plaster and powder pigments. Original and prints for sale.

And if the top-most, and darkest layer of rock in my piece vaguely suggests the shape of a windshield to you . . . you might be on to something.

In “Meet the Family,” I created three layers of rock. Usually I only have two. The first, bottom layer is the red rock, which shows the iron-rich layers around the region. In this layer of plaster, I brushed in iron oxide powder pigments in a strie, or stripy, fashion to show the accumulation of layers over time.

In Progress Photo Making Second Layer Images

In -progress photo of “Counting Sheep” showing the forms I
use to 
create the images in plaster.

In the second layer, I created the images by laying down a hand-cut forms and trowling plaster over them. When I pull a form out, the negative image or “window” is left behind, allowing you to see down to the first layer. The second layer of plaster I colored with a light amount of oxidation or desert varnish.

I added the third, top layer for that additonal suggestion of a windshield shape as a nod to one of the most common “modern” ways we show our families to the world.

I struggled with the darker color on this layer. I strove for a look that was distinct from the second layer, but not so dark it would be difficult to make out detail. The final, coco-brown with streaks of grey is the result of me reworking the colors several times, but I’m pleased with the end result.

How do you express your love of family? May I suggest some art.