What Is Aboriginal Dot Painting And
Where Does It Come From?

Dot Painting or Aboriginal Dot Art originated in the desert using natural substances on the ground in the sand. Those pictures in the sand are not unlike the paintings we see today produced using acrylic paints.

The acrylic paintings are usually done using acrylic paint and it is applied to canvas or art board with various diameter sticks dipped into a paint and then applied one dot at a time.

The Australian Aborigine of the western desert constructed their stories using ochre, sand, blood, coal from their fires and plant material placed together on the ground clump by clump for various ceremonial occasions.

If you look at the desert landscape from the height of any small bluff or hill what you see looking down are clumps of growth scattered about a red landscape.

The spinifix grass, desert hardwood bush and occasional rocks or rock outcrops make up the myriad of dots that seem to cover the landscape.

Because everything in the desert has meaning to the Australian Aborigine these seemingly unimportant arrays of pattern in the desert have special meaning to the Dot painters of the western desert.

If you were to ever fly over the desert low enough to see what was on the ground you would see what the dot painting has replicated for you to see.

These dots are a myriad of clumps of natural splendor which might go unnoticed had you not seen an Aboriginal Dot painting and looked to see what it was about.

bush clumps in desert,

The arrangement of the plants, rocks and water are all part of the spirit of creation and it is because of this placement that Aboriginal people have traversed the deserts safely without printed maps for thousands of years.

The placement and arrangement of all of these natural things are in songs and these songs are often sung while the painting is being created.

Nearly every painting has a song and the songs often disclose important ceremonial facts about a particular region or area.

These important ceremonial places are often in the paintings but because they are sacred to Aboriginal people they are camouflaged in some way, visible to the initiated person but invisible to others who do not know what to look for.

Many paintings contain these special hidden meanings and the new owners of these paintings will never know what the whole story of their purchased painting is about.

Only over time may some insight be gained from looking at the painting.

This is a point of pride among the Australian Aboriginal artists because they see the purchase of their art or for them the sale of their art, as a validation of their race and culture by others.

This is because a value has been placed on the art.


Since the Australian Aboriginal culture is depicted in all traditional paintings they are passing down their knowledge in the only way they are able to those who have yet to understand it.

The Aboriginal people do not have a written language so these painting of their stories and ceremonies are all they have to save this culture for future generations.

The color and the placement of the dots are important to depicting the visible message and camouflaging the hidden message in Aboriginal dot art.

Even the over painting of an area of the work has special significance and may convey different messages.

Some people gifted with a since of tactile feeling are able to feel a special vibrancy emanating from their painting.

In purchasing a dot painting you are helping to protect a cultural heritage and you may get much more from the painting then you initially see in the painting, over time.

The more you look at it the more you will see.

Aboriginal dot painting is just one part of Aboriginal Art History.

I hope that you read on to learn more.