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Aboriginal Art Lessons

Aboriginal Dot Art

 

Aboriginal Dot Painting is an indigenous Australian painting style that was developed by the Papunya Tula artists from the Northern Territory. The permanent nature of the acrylic paints that these artists used meant that their secret knowledge, which was only 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.

 

Aboriginal Art - Dot Paintings

 

  • Our method of teaching this style of Aboriginal art is to create an example of a dot painting that we break down into the various stages of its development to help you understand how the image was built up.
  • Our example above is a statement that acknowledges Aboriginal heritage where the states and territories of modern Australia are combined with the traditional symbolism of indigenous Australians.

 

  • The symbols and images used to create our paintings are taken from the two pages above. These illustrations, which were designed to support our Aboriginal Art project, are free to download and and print for your own use. The symbols and images are by no means exclusive and you should feel free to add your own.

The Step by Step Stages of our Aboriginal Dot Painting

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.

  • Slide Show
 
 
aboriginal-dot-painting

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

Key Stages of the Painting

  1. Start with a black sheet of paper, board or canvas.
  2. Outline the map of Australia with white color pencil or chalk.
  3. Paint in the map of Australia and draw in the state lines.
  4. Paint over each state with a different color of dots - Western Australia.
  5. Paint over each state with a different color of dots - Northern Territory
  6. Paint over each state with a different color of dots - Queensland
  7. Paint over each state with a different color of dots - New South wales
  8. Paint over each state with a different color of dots - Victoria
  9. Paint over each state with a different color of dots - South Australia.
  10. Paint over each state with a different color of dots - Tasmania.
  11. Unify the outline of the map and states with a single line of colored dots.
  12. Paint in the concentric lines of an Aboriginal camp symbol to occupy the centre of the map.
  13. Paint in the Aboriginal symbols for people seated around the camp.
  14. Highlight the camp and people with an outline of white dots.
  15. Suggest the sea surrounding Australia by echoing the shape of the land in parallel lines of diminishing colored dots.

Many of the topics in our Aboriginal Art pages are illustrated with a painting that was inspired by the theme of that page. For each of these we have created a step by step slide show to enhance your understanding of the technique and inspire new ideas of your own.

 

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