Thursday, January 16, 2020

Aboriginal Dot Painting Lesson

A river runs through two gathering places
I had no idea in August, when I planned my class curriculum for the year, that the week I would be teaching about Australia, the country would be on fire. It has been heart breaking to see the damage from the forrest fires there, but the current events have made my students curious about who lives there and what life is like for them. Curiosity is fertile ground for learning.

We began with a K-W-L chart, to help me pre-assess what my students already knew and what they wanted to learn about Australia and it's culture. Then we watched videos and I taught students about dot painting done by the Aborigines, who have totems and symbols to convey meaning in their artwork. Dipping the "wrong end" of a paint brush or pencil into paint and dotting dark paper to make images ended up being easier for some of my visually impaired students than I thought it would be. Wiki Stix could be used to create initial boundaries, and lines of contrasting colors seemed to pop from the black background.

 A Kangaroo paw print can be all it takes to get an image going.
 Repeated circles of colors can expand to fill the page
I had a piece started as a demonstration but as I stood to help a student get some paint out of a jacket (this is why I encourage apron wearing) a student who is blind swept her hands across the table and smeared the paint. It's an occupational hazard and almost every student experiences their work being ruined by a peer at some point so we get pretty good at shrugging it off. I just didn't have time to do another example to show how cultures can mix by using the dot painting method from one culture to create a mandala from another. We used latex because the colors pop like Lite Brite pegs and the image becomes tactile when it dries. This is an extremely therapeutic type of painting that doesn't take nearly as long as one would think. So grab a piece of paper, some paint, and a stick and enjoy the quiet time.

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