How to Make Aboriginal Dot Paintings

By Mackenzie Wright

The Aborigines are the indigenous people of Australia who developed an art form using dots to create elaborate patterns and symbols. The dots were not just decorative, they were used to as a way to camouflage the story so that only the tribal people who knew how to decode it could read the sacred events and rituals the artwork hid. Today, Aboriginal dot paintings are a prized form of Australian art that is collected worldwide.

Select a medium. Acrylic paints are most commonly used, however you can experiment with oils or tempera craft paint. Use traditional colors, such as rich brown, earthy red, mustard yellow or black. Aborigines made paints out of crushed seeds, dirt and other natural resources the land provided.

Choose a support for your project. You can paint on any kind of paper if you just wish to practice or experiment, or use a quality artists paper made for painting. If you prefer, use a stretch canvas or scrap wood. Prepare your support, if necessary, with a primer or gesso.

Paint on a solid base coat in the color of your choice. Allow it to dry.

Decide what symbols and designs you wish to put in your painting. Some common symbols found in dot paintings are snakes, boomerangs or fruits like the silky pear. Pencil your design lightly on your support.

Paint your image and make whatever designs you want to be a solid color. Allow the coat to dry.

Use contrasting colors to make dots that trace around, fill in or surround the images. You can make dots using the tip of a fine point brush loaded with paint or with a cotton swab. Attempt to camouflage the symbols with the dots.

Allow your paint to dry, then display your painting with pride.