Aboriginal Dot Painting: Exploring Australia Through Art

Our next stop in Project Around the World was to a country most everyone knows something about – Australia. It was one of those places where we took a pause and immersed ourselves in all the wondrous things to explore. One of my girls’ favorite things about Australia are the animals. Australian animals are different from anywhere else in the world. The kangaroos, koalas, wombats, and more are endlessly fascinating. But, before we completely immersed ourselves in the animals, we learned a little about the Aboriginal culture in Australia.
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Before beginning our project, we read Rainbow Bird: An Aboriginal Folk Tale from Northern Australia by Eric Maddern. The book retells the traditional Aboriginal fire myth from northern Australia. The story is wonderfully told and the illustrations were delightful. It’s a book we read over and over while we had it from the library. After reading, we decided to try our hand at dot painting, a traditional Aboriginal form of art.
Supplies Needed:
Heavy cardboard for your canvas (I cut apart a shipping box)
Craft paint
Empty plastic lid (or other flat surface for your palette)
Cotton swabs
We used a cut apart cardboard box for our painting surface. You can actually do this project on paper, I was just looking for something a little more solid and I wanted the brown background. Use whatever you have on hand for your project.
Before we got started painting, I had the girls draw simple outlines of their subjects. Despite their complete infatuation of all things Australia, the girls didn’t want to draw any of the Australian animals. One drew a rabbit and the other a bathing suit (she’s really into fashion design). After we had simple pencil outlines, the girls used their cotton swabs to fill in their designs with dots.
In order to stay true to traditional dot art, we chose colors that were earth tones, or other colors found in nature. The brightest color we chose was yellow. Even though the girls chose non-traditional subjects, the art technique and colors reminded us of all the examples of traditional Aboriginal dot art that we saw. It was such a fun painting technique and one I hope we revisit some day.
Thank you for travelling along on our virtual trip around the world. To see all the projects we’ve done so far, please click here or on the image below.

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Terri is a writer and mom of two elementary-aged girls. She has a passion for learning and is always looking for ways to make learning fun. You can find her at Better Than Homework where she shares fun learning activities or Creative Family Fun where she shares art, craft, and family fun ideas.

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