Dream Dot Painting Activity

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Updated on Jun 26, 2014

Dreams have always fascinated people. Many of the indigenous Australian artists create paintings that represent places in their dreams. These "dot" painting stories used to be drawn in the desert sand, but many are now painted on canvas. Using a limited color palette, they dot paint in patterns to create pictures of animals, trees, landscapes and people. Your child can dot together her own version of an Aboriginal dream painting to communicate her dreams!

What You Need:

  • Wooden stick, wooden end of a paintbrush or cotton swabs
  • Newspaper
  • Tempera paint In the following colors: red, brown, white, yellow, black
  • Brown construction paper (11” x 17”)
  • Small paper plates or plastic palettes for paint

What You Do:

  1. Pour out paint into separate plates, or in a palette
  2. Ask your child about what things she sees in her dreams. These could be animals, plants, people, objects or even colors!
  3. Have her test out the dot painting technique by dipping a wooden stick or cotton swab into the paint and dotting it on the newspaper. Have her do this a few times to get the hang of it. She can even practice making the outline of a shape, like a square with dots.
  4. Encourage her to begin creating shapes of animals, people, patterns and landscapes by dotting the outline of them onto the brown paper. She can interchange colors! If she's using cotton swabs she can use a different one for each color. If she's using a stick she can wipe it off between color changes.
  5. Have her fill in the shape outline to make the figure complete.
  6. Allow your dot painting to dry completely before moving it so the colors won't run.
  7. Hang your painting as a memory of your child’s dreams and creativity!

Fun Fact: Aboriginal painting is one of the oldest art forms in the world! Traditionally Aboriginal painters use natural pigments from crushed seeds and plants, though many modern artists now use acrylic paint also. You can tell which region an Aboriginal painter is from by the color palettes he uses.

Ellen Dean has worked as an art educator in Thailand since 2005, working with both children and adults. She has also been a professional artist working in painting, sculpture and photography since 1996.

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