A Style Guide to Buying Aboriginal Art Online

Aboriginal art is a large category, and by buying online, sifting your way through all of the styles and techniques can be a bit daunting, especially if it’s your first time. To better understand specific pieces and make a selection when buying aboriginal art online, consider these different styles.

Rarrk or Cross Hatching

This style is typical of northern Aboriginal artists. It involves parallel lines that intersect or cross to create a woven affect. It’s common for the artwork to display water inspired images, and were original made on bark, although contemporary artists use modern materials as well.

Dot Paintings

Many people buying Aboriginal paintings  gravitate to this unique and distinctly Australian style. The many small dots, as the name implies, create an incredible aesthetic effect. Easily recognizable, the small dots mixed with cross hatching began first as simple drawings in the sand. However, in the 1970s Geoffrey Bardon asked students to paint murals of dreams in their schools, propelling the Papunya Tula Art Movement into existence.

Bush Medicine Leaves

These distinctive works were made popular in 1999 when Gloria Petyarre won the Wynne Prize for best Australian Landscape painting. As the name implies, the artwork utilizes leaf-like shapes in a variety of colors that tend to flow out from the center in hypnotic patterns or spirals.

Colour Fields

Although the abstract style of colour field painting originated in New York in the mid-1900s, Kudditji Kngwarreye adapted it in his artwork. These large blocks of emotionally poignant color were originally rejected. However, at the passing of the millennial, colour fields became more popular, and Kudditji Kngwarreye was met with widespread acclaim.


It may be more difficult to find this style when buying Aboriginal art online. Wandjina are technically natural spirits particular to Western Australia’s Kimberley region. Originally painted on rocks, the large, dark eyes of these broad white figures invoke a dreamy and otherworldly quality.


Aboriginal art also encompasses a rich culture of woven art such as baskets and other objects. These range from to more complex and interwoven earthy colors.

Although these are popular styles you are likely to encounter when buying Aboriginal art online, keep in mind that Aboriginal art has a long and rich tradition that has resulted in a wide variety of styles and techniques. Not only is artwork often particular to a certain region and culture, it also depends on what an individual artist wants to convey, or how that artist wants to adapt or expand their style.

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