Visual Arts: Cultural Dot Painting

Lesson Plan: Cultural Dot Painting
Grade level: 4-8
Duration: 7-8 class periods
Media Type: acrylic paint, paper
Subject Integration: Social Studies
National Standards for Visual Arts: (see bottom of page)

(website for help with writing rubrics)

4 - Standards are exceeded
3 - Standards are met
2 - Standards may be met at a very low quality or with some exceptions
1 - Standards are not met

Vocabulary (elements/principles):

  • color
  • shape
  • line
  • texture
  • balance
  • unity
  • proportion
  • form
  • value
  • space
  • contrast
  • emphasis
  • movement
  • pattern
  • rhythm

Materials and Procedure:

Day 1:
Introduce lesson around dot paintings from around the world Share examples of dot paintings from Aboriginie people.

Start dialogue: “What do you see?” “Is there anything about these paintings that ‘speak’ to you?” Now introduce dot paintings by Canadian artist Christi Belcourt. Discuss her tiny dot paintings and her purpose to emulate tiny beadwork.

“What do you see?” Christi’s work depicts flowers and plants from nature, as well as her strong belief system around the idea that everything in this world is connected.

Introduce artist Dyani White Hawk via PlayList video. Continue dialog with students around Native American artwork and its importance to the visual arts. Show Tweed Museum video “Encoded” to further discussion. (6:40) (1:58)

Day 2:
Review discussion from Day 1. Students sketch drawings related to native plants and animals related to artwork and discussions from Day 1. Offer hand-outs of native plants and examples of artist’s work.

Day 3-6:
Students paint with cotton swabs and wooden sticks to create only dots on their pencil sketch lines. Students use acrylic paint of various colors.

Day 7:
Students write artist statement to explain and reflect on learning gained from studying Native American artists and their culture.



National Standards for Visual Arts:

VA:Re.7.2.6a: Analyze ways that visual components and cultural associations suggested by images influence ideas, emotions, and actions.
VA:Re.7.2.6a: Analyze ways that visual components and cultural associations suggested by images influence ideas, emotions, and actions.
VA:Re8.1.6a: Interpret art by distinguishing between relevant and non-relevant contextual information and analyzing subject matter, characteristics of form and structure, and use of media to identify ideas and mood conveyed.
VA:Cn11.1.6a: Analyze how art reflects changing times, traditions, resources, and cultural uses.

Sample National Visual Arts Standards link:

Sample Social Studies Benchmarks: Pose questions about a topic in Minnesota history, gather a variety of primary and secondary sources related to questions; identify possible answers, use evidence to draw conclusions, and present supported findings. Describe Minnesota and federal American Indian policy of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries and its impact on Anishinaabe and Dakota people, especially in the areas of education, land ownership, and citizenship.

Funding for this program is provided by the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. Click here for more information or visit the Minnesota Legacy website.

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