Explore Artists Techniques

Lines and Dots in Australian Aboriginal Art

We visit the artist, Betty Mbitjana to know more about Australian aboriginal art. Betty Mbitjana was born in 1954 and is from the Utopia region in Central Australia. She paints beautiful body paint patterns or Awelye designs of her region. She was born to the renowned family of aboriginal artists where her mother Minnie Pwerle and aunts painted in this style. 

Betty’s aunts, Emily, Galya and Molly, each have their distinctive style to paint these colorful and fluid movements of lines and circles all across the canvas to illustrate Awelye designs.

Aboriginal art in Australia

Aboriginal art has survived thousands of years in Australia and this is one of the oldest art form still practiced today. Awelye designs are used in Awelye ceremonies. Ochre, charcoal, and ash are used to make these designs.

The bold patterns are illustrated on the women’s body, arms, and legs. These women in the ceremony take turns to be painted up. The large roundels in the art depict the waterholes around which the women perform the ceremony and the small circles are the bush melons that they live on whilst the ceremonies are taking place. They sing stories of their ancestral travel, plants, animals and natural forces. Through these ceremonies, the women pay homage to their ancestors and ensure well-being and happiness within their communities.

Betty Mbitjana Art

Betty’s Awelye paintings illustrate the designs that the women would paint on their bodies in Awelye ceremonies. It is also the dancing tracks made on the sand during the awelye ceremony.  Instead of restricting herself to the ochre, charcoal and ash, she uses a wide range of vivid and mesmerizing colors. Though Betty brings with her the legacy of color and design of her mother’s work, she has her own distinguishable brush strokes which identify her artwork.

Art project

Children of all ages should try these form of art.

Look through the patterns and draw your patterns with lines and circles. Draw round circles and fill them up with strokes to cover the entire canvas. Use a wide range of colors. While painting with acrylic, mix water with the paint to ensure a smooth flow of lines. Choose your range of colors to paint your lines and circles.


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