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Aboriginal Art Lesson - Hand Stencil Painting

In this lesson we use a stencil of our hand to create an Aboriginal dot art painting.

Aboriginal Boomerang Designs

The aim of this lesson is to create a dot art painting using a stencil of your hand as the main image. It should be inspired by what you have learned about indigenous symbols and styles of Aboriginal art.

  • Hand stencils are the earliest and most personal symbols that we see in Aboriginal rock art sites. They are a primal way of marking territory and their individuality is often emphasized by framing them within a circle.

  • Our exemplar is an image that links the individual (the hand) with the group (the camp) in a gesture that acknowledges the value of both.

The Components for our Aboriginal Hand Stencil Painting

Campsite Symbol
Campsite Symbol
Connected Waterholes
Woman Symbol
Man Symbol
Map of Australia
A Stencil of your Hand

This lesson uses a painting as an exemplar to demonstrate the traditional practice of Aboriginal hand stencil art:

  • The components we have used to create this work are a stencil of your own hand combined with the Aboriginal Art Symbols for a man, woman, campsite and connected waterholes. 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 Aboriginal Hand Stencil Painting

  • Slide Show

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

Key Stages of the Painting:

  1. The outline of a hand is drawn with a white color pencil on a black sheet of card.

  2. The hand is framed with a double circle.

  3. Waterway channels are drawn diagonally from each corner of the image to the edge of the circle.

  4. The background is divided into different patches of terrain.

  5. The patches of terrain are painted with ochre colors ranging from light to dark.

  6. A mid-tone of ochre dots is painted over all the patches of terrain.

  7. The waterhole and waterways are painted with of dark ochre dots.

  8. The remaining spaces between the concentric circles and parallel waves are painted with light ochre dots.

  9. The hand, waterhole, and waterways are outlined with white dots.

  10. Aboriginal symbols of people are painted in black around the waterhole.

  11. The symbols of people are painted with lines of yellow ochre dots.

  12. A simple campsite symbol with concentric circles of white dots is painted on the palm of the hand.

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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