How to Make an Australian Dot Painting

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Honey Ant Dreaming

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Honey Ant Dreaming by Henry

Our school holiday art project is to make our own Aboriginal dot painting just like the real ones we saw being painted at the Mindil Beach Markets in Darwin. We’ve based our painting on an artwork called “Honey Ant Dreaming” which was painted in Central Australia and represents honey ants in their underground home. It symbolises community, sharing, food and family, as well as telling the Dreaming (or creation story) of these fascinating insects. It’s also very pretty to look at.

Honey ants live in colony underground in desert areas of central Australia. Some of the worker ants develop huge swollen abdomens, full of a sweet syrupy mixture – their contribution to the colony is to act as a living food store and snack bar for their sisters! They’re also a much celebrated traditional bush tucker.

What you’ll need to make your very own dot painting

  • A small canvas – dot paintings are time consuming so canvas size should correlate with attention span!
  • Sticks or paint brushes to paint with
  • Acrylic paints either in natural tones for a traditional feel or vibrant colours for a splash of modernism

Artistic Method

Study dot paintings, either use our picture to inspire you or go freestyle with your own design.

Paint the canvas with a background (we used black) and allow to dry

Outline a central circle (the heart of the community/family) and outlining circles (relatives and friends) create interconnecting ‘chambers’ for your honey ants

Infill different sections with different tones of dots – it takes ages but is very therapeutic!

Lastly paint in your honey ants. Our honey ants are very easy to paint being just two black blobs with six little line legs. They are arranged in a circular pattern.

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2 dots, 6 lines – easy!
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Watching how it’s really done