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Aboriginal Art on Canvas

Aboriginal Art Wall Hanging
Aboriginal Art Wall Hanging

Powerful Aboriginal Art

Sometimes inspiration travels halfway across the planet, to land in my lap, in the form of a book. This past Christmas a dear friend of mine, from Australia, gave me a book on Australian Aboriginal Art. She felt the colors and movement of the aborigines’ art would call to me. It could, she encouraged, create a whole new dimension to my art work!

I wanted to give my friend a wall hanging as a reciprocal gift. There was a particular narrow wall she had mentioned – waiting for a wall hanging, for some years, but that the right piece just hadn’t presented itself. The wall is a deep chocolate color, the floor a mottled gold tile; of course, a hand painted canvas rug adorns the floor in rust and chocolate. It was difficult to select a single design from the myriad of incredible pieces of aboriginal art from the book. As we perused the book page by page, my friend was drawn to two of the rock wall paintings, one of kangaroos and the other of medicine men.

Creating the Wall Hanging of Aboriginal Art

With a prepped piece of canvas measured for the wall I performed the initial tinting by soaking it with water. Then using acrylic paints, colors of soft gold and tans, created a wash, replicating the mottled colors of the Australian aboriginal’s art originally done on hides or rocks. For this project, the use of acrylic paint was implemented instead of latex paints because the clarity of color is much truer; repeating this process a couple of times I finally had the color’s tones just right.

Experience has proven: ’tis always better to add to then attempting to retract color. And, the more fluid the watery paint  the less it fills into the fibers of the canvas, thus creating a much rougher texture, enabling us to see and feel the grain of the canvas cloth.

I then used a heavy paper to draw the figures to later trace onto the canvas. In this way I could see where I wanted to place the aboriginal figures.

Power, Energy and Love

What was amazing to me was feeling the power and energy of these incredible aboriginal artists, simply by creating from their work. A neighbor came in while I was working and placed her hands on the drawings and said she could feel the energy. I placed the kangaroos on the bottom and to divide the two scenes I used a river flowing above them to separate them from the medicine men. As I studied their details I was transported to a fireside listening to the drums pounding.

With a dry brush I painted the figures using a deep rusty brown latex paint. The thick paint sans water was like scratching the drawing on the wall, giving it more texture.

After completing the drawing, I coated the wall hanging with a single coat of polyurethane to seal it. It brings out the colors and protects the wall hanging from the soot and dust prevalent from living in a city. I used a piece of dry yellowed bamboo and a rough cord to hang the piece on the wall. We were both thrilled with the finished product.

It was an amazing experience to not only look at these incredible Australian aboriginal art paintings but to replicate one myself. I think emotion is very much part of the creation of art and this project was a surprising event for me as an artist. The wall hanging is in a perfect place and evokes power and love. A lovely additional bi-product to creating interior décor…for a dear friend.


2 thoughts on “Aboriginal Art on Canvas”

    • The book is called ABORIGINAL ART by Wally Caruana. I am working on a canvas rug with the painting that’s on the cover. There are so many beautiful pieces, it’s such an inspiration!


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