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Aboriginal Art Lesson - X-ray Painting

This lesson introduces the 'X-Ray' painting technique which comprises outlined shapes, painted with flat colors and shaded with 'rarrk', an Aboriginal style of cross-hatching.

Aboriginal Boomerang Designs

The aim of this lesson is to create an Aboriginal style X-Ray painting of a barramundi fish. It should be inspired by what you have learned about traditional bark painting techniques and different styles of Aboriginal art.

  • Aboriginal X-Ray Art is an indigenous style of painting where the artist visualizes not only the external shape of the subject (usually animals, humans or spirit beings), but also its internal structure. These images are not anatomically accurate drawings; they are elegant designs that focus on those elements of the musculoskeletal system that are important to the artist.

Aboriginal Bark Art - Barramundi

'Bark Painting of a Barramundi', c.1961

The X-ray painting technique is most commonly used in Aboriginal bark painting. It comprises outlined shapes, painted with flat colors and shaded with 'rarrk', a traditional style of cross-hatching.

  • Our exemplar was influenced by the bark painting of a barramundi which is by an unknown artist from West Arnhem Land c.1961.

The Components for our Aboriginal X-Ray Painting

Campsite Symbol
Barramundi Fish

This lesson uses a painting of a barramundi as an exemplar to demonstrate the traditional technique of Aboriginal X-Ray art:

  • The only component we have used to create this work is a drawing of a barramundi from our sheets of Aboriginal Art Images. 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 techniques 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 X-Ray Painting

  • Slide Show
 
 
aboriginal-art-x-ray-painting-1

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

Key Stages of the Painting

  1. The drawing of a barramundi is outlined with white color pencil on black card.

  2. The background is cross-hatched with ‘rarrk’ using a yellow ochre – direction 1.

  3. The background is cross-hatched with ‘rarrk’ using a yellow ochre – direction 2.

  4. The interior of the barramundi is painted with a golden ochre color.

  5. The interior is cross-hatched with ‘rarrk’ using a yellow ochre tint – direction 1.

  6. The interior is cross-hatched with ‘rarrk’ using a brown ochre – direction 2.

  7. The internal organs of the barramundi are painted with a deep red.

  8. The flesh, fins and bones are painted with a light ochre.

  9. Some areas of the barramundi are left empty to add contrast.

  10. The entire outline of the image is painted with a thin white line to unify the design.

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.