I've been a huge fan of Australian Aboriginal art for a long time, appreciating the colors and designs of Aboriginal "dot paintings". Now that I'm in Australia, I've been able to enjoy Aboriginal art up-close, learning about and admiring the many different forms that Aboriginal art can take, beyond just paintings on canvas (which is a very modern, Westernized form of Aboriginal art). In this blog post, I'll show you some of the different Aboriginal art forms that I've seen here in Victoria.

I'll start with a painting that is considered one of the most important rock art paintings in Victoria:

This is a painting of Bunjil, who according to Aboriginal legend (called "dreaming"), created everything from the land to the tribes and cultures, and provided for everyone's needs. He's shown here with 2 dingoes. This shelter is located in the 'bush' about 90 minutes or so outside of Melbourne. Here's a close-up:

The artwork below was photographed at the National Gallery in Melbourne. Below you can see several Aboriginal hollowed log coffins, similar to the ones that are used to house the bones of the deceased, which is part of the burial rituals amongst the indigenous Australians in the Arnhem Land. The ones that are on display in museums were usually not involved in actual burial rituals. (You can learn more about this burial ritual on the National Gallery website, about halfway down the page on this link: http://nga.gov.au/AboriginalMemorial/home.cfm).

The photo below shows a close-up of one of the log coffins, so you can see the intricate detail, with a canvas painting hanging on the wall behind it.

Here are some contemporary Aboriginal dot paintings. The ones on the right are more similar to the 'traditional' dot paintings because they use more earthy colors, whereas the ones on the left use more vibrant, contemporary colors:

Here's a pic of my husband looking at a large Aboriginal dot painting on canvas, which gives a sense of the scale of this work:

This is a close-up side-view of that painting, to give you more of a sense of the intricate detail:

You can see more pics of the Aboriginal art we saw, along with more descriptions and background info, on this blog post that I wrote last year after our initial visit. In that post I wrote a bit more about how these paintings are made and what they mean.

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Comment by Jeffrey A. Knight on August 1, 2011 at 5:38pm
Thank you. Very interesting. I guess we could relate this to our own stippling technique in drawing or Pointilism in painting.I had my students do stippling in black and white and color.We also did Pointilism.
Comment by Thaneeya McArdle on August 2, 2011 at 7:33am
Glad you guys enjoyed the blog post. There is so much to learn about Aboriginal art that I could only brush the surface. Someday I hope to learn more about it, when I have time. There are rows and rows of books on Aboriginal art at the libraries here, I almost don't know where to begin. I find the art so striking and beautiful.
Comment by Suzanne Vadnais Monson on August 2, 2011 at 3:39pm
Thank you so much for sharing this art with us Thaneeya. I am a fan of Aboriginal art and Native American art as well. There is something in the cave art drawings and paintings that really speak to me. I love the angle shot of the large work you captured in your blog. It really captures the scale and the detail!
Comment by Starr White on August 8, 2011 at 3:26am
Thaneeya, thank you so much for sharing!  I, too, am absolutely in love with Australian Aboriginal art.  But, I can't find any books on it around here.  If you get a chance, could you maybe get the names of some good books that I might could order online?  Right now, this is my absolute favorite style of art, and I've looked at everything on Google Images about a thousand times.  I'm ready for some new material!  I am interested in the traditional work as well as modern interpretations.  I have been recently incorporating the dot style into my paintings.  It really adds a new dimension to the pieces as well as the pleasure of being a very meditative process.
Comment by Thaneeya McArdle on August 8, 2011 at 3:34pm

Starr, it's great to hear how much you love Australian Aboriginal art!  There is indeed something meditative about doing the dot style of painting.

The next time I go to the library I will spend some time with the Aboriginal art books to see which ones are worth recommending.  I would personally love to find a book that provides an overview of all types of Aboriginal art from all regions of Australia. The subject is so vast that there are (understandably) a lot of books devoted to just certain areas, certain artists or certain Aboriginal art forms, but as someone just learning about Aboriginal art, I would really like to first understand the broader picture and then learn about the various aspects in more detail. 

In any case I will definitely let you know my findings, including any good books that are in the more 'focused' variety.

Comment by Madhumita Asthana on August 24, 2011 at 2:46pm

So muc of patience and experience one needed to make the folk art,I have various Indian folk study material and even been a part of projects but Australian Aboriginal art is an art which I have been watching on Discovery or Channels related to culture etc,one needs to respect the past,the folk art is so closely connected to the past and nature,it shows how man lived and loved nature.Simple living and let live was a part of daily life.The small dots make a whole big design and it simply looks so beautiful.

I have seen these done on cars,walls,so much of innovation one can do with folk art,I love ur work Thaneeya ,remember I even mailed you a few months back.On how ur art actually encouraged me to make paintings again.Thanks again.

Comment by Thaneeya McArdle on August 27, 2011 at 11:26am

Hi Madhumita, thanks for your comments. Sounds like we both share a love of folk art.

I'm pleased to hear that my art encouraged you to make art again, and I remember that you had emailed me awhile back. It's good to see you here and to see your artwork!


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