Dot Art Around The World

Dot Art Around The World

Let’s learn about dot art together!

What is dot art? It’s pretty simple, really. Dot art is made using hundreds (or thousands!) of tiny dots. The artist can create these dots using almost any round tool, including:

  • Toothpicks
  • Sticks
  • Fingers
  • Q-tips (cotton buds)
  • Paintbrushes

Dot art is celebrated in many different cultures around the world, each with their own unique take on the concept. Dot artists may choose to work on paper, on rocks, on animal hides, on canvas, or even on the human body. 

We can find dot art made by the Métis nation in Canada, or the aboriginal peoples of Australia. We can also find it in the central and western parts of the USA. Occasionally the designs can hold sacred meaning in connection to ongoing and ancient rituals of great importance to the people of these nations. Other times, dot painting is simply a form of personal expression or storytelling. Especially in Australia, dot art is traditionally used as a storyteller weaves their tale out loud, creating a painting on wood or canvas and with their words simultaneously.

Now, dot paintings are created all over the world. You’ll find famous dot painting artists in Japan, Thailand, the USA, Canada, and elsewhere, with so many different takes on the concept. There was an entire movement around dot painting in European art culture called pointillism. There’s even an International Dot Day!

There are two videos to choose from to learn about dot art. The first one is better for younger kids, the second one will appeal to older kids. Feel free to watch one, or both!

You may see a number of other videos that are a deeper dive into things you might be interested in. Feel free to watch as many of those as you like. Then choose some activities and/or a project. 

High school students or any student who wants to dig deeper, continue your study with one of the advanced learning projects in the Projects section.

It is important to note that today we are NOT creating aboriginal or indigenous art – I’m only sharing with you some examples of places around the world where art made using only dots can be found. Only aboriginal or indigenous people can create what is officially called “indigenous art,” and that practice requires a great deal of study and understanding of sacred traditions, the meanings of the colors and patterns, and the history of their people. The technique used will depend on where the artist comes from and what culture has informed their people. It is considered both disrespectful and unacceptable to paint on behalf of someone else’s culture. Please keep this in mind and do not refer to your dot art as “indigenous” art! Thank you.

Take A Deeper Dive!

Meet Yayoi Kusama, an iconic Japanese artist who has shaped the art world’s understanding of modernized dot art. Her story is fascinating (and may be emotionally difficult at times). Check out her unique style and you may be inspired!

Learn about pointillism in this introductory video!

Aboriginal Art and Culture in the Northern Territory, Australia

Cultural Appropriation in Art
What is cultural appropriation in art? How do we know whether it’s okay for us to tell a story, and HOW we can tell it? There are some advanced ideas in here, but also links to other related concepts. If you’re looking to understand cultural appropriation in art and learn to do better, this is a great place to start.

Activities

Dot Art Tutorial for Beginners

Start here! Try your hand at dot art for the first time. You’ll need a surface to paint on, craft paints, and a couple of tools for creating dots.

Remember to upload a picture of your finished project to your portfolio!

Try Pointillism

This is a very different kind of dot art. Watch the video and give it a try! Use a pencil or pen for best results with this kind of dot art.

Remember to upload a photo of the finished project to your portfolio!

Create a Mandala

Learn how dots can be used to create mandalas in India. Dot art here can have (but doesn’t always have) a special spiritual significance as Indian artists and monks use the practice as a form of meditation. Use common household supplies and craft paint to make your dots! 

Mandalas crafted in nature can be used to reflect on the impermanence of everything and the passage of time. Pretty cool, right? To learn more about the meaning and cultural significance behind mandalas, we invite you to watch this video.

Remember to add the finished project to your portfolio.

Project

Australian Aboriginal Style Dot Art

Watch this video and try creating dot art on paper! 

Supplies Needed:

  • Paper
  • Eraser
  • Sharpener
  • Pencil
  • Watercolour Paints (or coloured markers)
  • Paintbrush
  • Container of water
  • Paper towel (if painting)
  • Sheet coloured construction paper

Remember to add a picture to your portfolio.

Advanced Project

Advanced Stippling

Love dot art so far? Take it to the next level with this advanced stippling tutorial. It’s not difficult, but it does take some time and patience. Grab a pen and some paper. You’ve got this! Remember to upload to your portfolio when you’re done.

Books

Read Aloud Book(s)

Indigenous Storytelling Performed by Jade Dolman

The story of Artist Yayoi Kusama by Lillian Gray

Trigger warning: This story contains a description of abuse and World War 2.