What techniques are used today in Aboriginal art?? There are a variety of techniques used by artists to produce Aboriginal art. The drawings and paintings usually entail unique methods to share knowledge and tell stories visually.
Below are some of the most recognised techniques used:
Bush medicine leaves
Bush medicine leaves originate from a native shrub that grows in abundance in the desert regions of Utopia, north-east of Alice Springs. The leaves change colour throughout their life and display different medicinal properties, and artists paint the leaves as they fall to the ground with a range of brush strokes and colours. The artwork is renowned for its mesmerising qualities and the style was made famous by Gloria Petyarre; whose artwork won the Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Award in 1999.
Dot painting is what many people associate with Aboriginal art. The technique is versatile and varies from fine dot work made with thin sticks to large bold dots, with palettes ranging from earthy tones to bright and colourful. The technique is common in Central Australian paintings and offers an abstract style of work, originating from sacred body painting designs used in dance ceremonies. The technique was transferred to canvas in the 1970s, during the Papunya Tula Art Movement.
Cross hatching is common in Northern Australia and is believed to hold great spiritual power. Also known as Rarrk paintings, this technique is a unique feature of Kunwinjku Aboriginal art and involves fine-line cross hatching to represent sea creatures and reptiles. To meticulously paint the fine details of the artwork, human hair or hair-like bristles found inside the stem of a reed are used by the artist. This technique was originally a traditional ceremonial painting, and today the Kunwinjku artists use cross hatching to signify these past traditions.
X ray – naturalistic style
In Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory, x-ray art is a very traditional style of art and technique used to tell stories and depict local animals. The animals are mostly painted to show some anatomical features, which is how the technique received its name. The intricate portrayal of bone structures and internal organs give the paintings a unique three-dimensional effect. This type of artwork shows the deep connection between the artist, their country and all that dwell within it.