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Aboriginal Art Lessons - Dot Art

In this lesson we use what we have learned about Aboriginal art to create our own dot art paintings.

Aboriginal Art - Dot Paintings

The aim of this lesson is to create a dot art painting inspired by what you have learned about indigenous symbols and styles of Aboriginal art.

  • Aboriginal Dot Art is an indigenous Australian painting style that was developed by the Papunya Tula artists from the Northern Territory. When these artists first began to use acrylic paints, the permanent nature of the medium meant that their sacred knowledge, which had only been previously displayed in temporary artworks such as sand drawings and body paintings, could remain on view to an uninitiated public. This was contrary to Aboriginal law. As a solution, a painting technique was devised to mask any secret knowledge with patterns of dots. However, the visual effect of these dots had a strong aesthetic appeal and the technique gradually evolved to become the characteristic feature of modern Aboriginal art.

  • Our exemplar is an image that acknowledges Aboriginal heritage, where the states and territories of modern Australia are combined with the traditional symbolism of indigenous Australians.

The Components for our Aboriginal Dot Art Lesson

Map of Australia
Map of Australia
Campsite Symbol
Woman Symbol
Man Symbol

This lesson uses a painting as an exemplar to demonstrate the Aboriginal dot painting technique:

  • The components we have used to create this work are a map of Australia from our sheet of Aboriginal Art Images combined with the Aboriginal Art Symbols for a man, woman and campsite. More images and symbols can be found in the menu at the foot of the page. They are available for you to download to help with creating your own artworks.

  • To help you understand the technique used for our painting, we have deconstructed its development in the form of a slide show. Once you see a step by step analysis of how the image was constructed, it may provide you with a model that you can adapt for your own ideas.

A Step by Step Analysis of our Dot Art Painting

  • Slide Show

(Click on the play buttons or swipe back and forward to explore each stage of our painting.)

Key Stages of the Painting:

  1. The map of Australia is outlined with a white color pencil on black card.

  2. The map is painted with a brown ochre and the Australian state lines are drawn in.

  3. Each state is painted with a different color of dots - Western Australia.

  4. Each state is painted with a different color of dots - Northern Territory

  5. Each state is painted with a different color of dots - Queensland

  6. Each state is painted with a different color of dots - New South wales

  7. Each state is painted with a different color of dots - Victoria

  8. Each state is painted with a different color of dots - South Australia.

  9. Each state is painted with a different color of dots - Tasmania.

  10. The outline of the map and the states is painted with yellow ochre dots.

  11. The concentric lines of an Aboriginal camp symbol are painted with black in the centre of the map.

  12. The Aboriginal symbols for men and women seated around the camp are painted with black.

  13. The symbols for the camp and the people around it are outlined with white dots.

  14. The sea surrounding Australia is painted in lines of diminishing colored dots that echo the shape of the land .

Some of the topics in our Aboriginal Art pages are illustrated with a painting that was inspired by the theme of that page. The symbols and images used to create them are taken from the sheets above which are freely available as pdf. files for you to download to help with drawing your own artworks.

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