Were Neanderthals artists? This distinction is usually reserved for Homo sapiens, but there is speculation that the Neanderthals may have been the first cave painters. The hand stencils in El Castillo cave, located along northern Spain's Cantabrian Sea coast, are estimated to be more than 40,000 years old, and so are the earliest dated art in Europe by at least 4,000 years.
When I was writing my novel Nightsong, it didn't seem that much of a stretch to imagine the Neanderthals creating hand stencils on cave walls. They most likely used red ochre to decorate their bodies, and I learned how they may have created stencils--by blowing the color through a tube of some sort (bone, reed, etc), creating a pattern around a hand.
In Nightsong, Chaya, the Neanderthal girl, is initiated as a healer by creating a handprint next to her mentor.
I am the author of NIGHTSONG: A Neanderthal mystery. I hope you may want to dip into my blog after you've read my novel (or even if you haven't) to learn a bit more about the Neanderthals and to hear some of the music described in the novel. I may go off topic sometimes...