Dip-and-Dot Painting By Diana Bond

Diane Marie Kellogg create decorating dip and dot painting mandala art style


Dot, dot, dot-dot…what is this? Morse Code? Although you’re missing some dashes, you can dash right out and buy supplies to create this Dip-and-Dot artwork. Some call it by various names, such as Mandala Art, Dot Art, Dotting Art, or Dip-and-Dot Painting. And what is all this, you say? The original meaning of mandala is a spiritual symbol in the Hindu and Buddhism religion. It’s a symbolic representation of a circle. The start of Mandala Art was in our oriental countries centuries ago. Each circle was symbolic of our universe. Dotting circles onto a surface creates and reassures us that our universe is a path to enlightenment. Basically, modern mandala art is the use of dots to create a design or picture. Thus, we have Dip-and-Dot Painting!

This form of art is very simple and can be done on almost any surface. View suggestions later in these instructions. You will need the following to begin:

NOTE: Please read all instructions, especially explanation of supplies, to be sure to gather all the necessary supplies and have an idea of how you will be creating.

SUPPLIES Palette (plastic palette, acrylic paint palette, or a foam disposable plate) Paper towels and/or damp rag Gesso for non-transparent surfaces Acrylic paint (see in explanation of supplies below) Dotting tool kit(s) or homemade tools (see in explanation of supplies below) Cotton swabs or Q-tips Surface of choice Chalk or chalk pencil (see in explanation of supplies below) Ruler Stencil(s)…optional

EXPLANATION OF SUPPLIES: First, you’ll want to not wear your Sunday best when painting. Consider old clothes you won’t care about getting paint on. Or wear an oversized shirt for a cover-up.

You can use an old cloth tablecloth or a cheap plastic tablecloth to cover your surface to avoid getting paint on the table you are working.

Let’s talk about the tools you will need. Thus far, there are no tools in the mass merchant stores but can be found online. Just go into your search engine and type in dotting art tools or Mandala Art tools. (I used Poraxy.) You will find a variety of tools and prices. The final choice will be up to you. Homemade tools can be made using toothpicks, ink pen points, pencil point coated with clear sealant or clear nail polish, rounded pinhead, erasers on pencils, pencils, drill bits, punch sets, ends of crochet hooks, thumbtack stuck to a pencil eraser, dime glued to pencil eraser, ends of paint brushes, ends of makeup brushes, manicure tools, various sizes of dowels, or anything that will make a dot. Keep in mind you’ll want a variety of sizes to achieve a variety of sized circles/dots.

A palette should accommodate acrylic paint. You’ll see in one of the photos a plastic palette being used with individual cups to keep the colors separated. You can use disposable foam plates or acrylic palette sheets. Once finished painting, if a plastic palette was used, let the paint dry; then peel off the paint for a clean palette to start another project. When using a small palette provided in the kits, it is small enough to stick into a quart zipper-style plastic bag (blow a little air into the bag before sealing), and the paint will stay good for 2-3 days. Avoid pouring paint down drains.

You’ll want plenty of paper towels to wipe your tools off after each color used or use a damp old cloth.

Acrylic paint is manufactured by a variety of companies. Purchase a bottle of each brand to find out which works best for you. Paint with a thick consistency, similar to yogurt or mayonnaise, is much better to use. You’ll want your dots to stay in place after you “dot”. There are a variety of paints available, such as neon, glow in the dark, glitter, and metallics that you might want to try. If you paint on glass, you might consider purchasing paint that is formulated just for glass. FYI: Add Elmer’s clear glue to paint to thicken it. Add a drop of water to paint to thin it. Add Super Gloss Mod Podge to paint, which allows the paint to “make bumps” or “soft peaks.” Note: When shaking a bottle of acrylic paint, make sure you have the cap secured and closed so the paint won’t splatter all over the area you are working in.

Gesso is used prior to the base coat on your surface. This helps seal your surface and cover up most blemishes.

Your surface is of your choice. You can use a 5” x 5” surface to accommodate a stencil if using one. Other suggested choices: Canvas, canvas panels, rocks [natural and those made with molds], card stock, wine glass, coffee cup, bowls, checkbook cover, Easter eggs, wood surfaces, clipboard, cell phone cases, refrigerator magnets, key fobs, medallion necklaces, paper maché surfaces, glass blocks, insulated tumblers [i.e., Yeti], old CDs, old vinyl records, and more.

Stencils are available and some come with your dotting tool kit to use to achieve your base pattern. Be sure your surface accommodates the size of the stencil.

A white chalk pencil or a sharpened piece of chalk is a must as it will allow you to draw on your base lines. You can freehand your lines or use a stencil. Once your design is dry and cured, you can take a slightly damp cloth or damp cotton swab to remove the chalk lines. White chalk or white chalk pencil for dark backgrounds and colored chalk or dark chalk pencil for lighter backgrounds. Chalk can be sharpened to a nice point using a pencil sharpener with a large opening. On a white background, a regular lead pencil can be used, then lines can be erased after the project is dried by using a good eraser on the guidelines.


Ready to begin? Perfect! Let’s start!

1. Apply a coat of Gesso to canvas (or anything that is not transparent) before painting the basecoat. Basecoat your surface. This will be your background color. Dark colors are great to use to make your colors more vibrant and dimensional. But if you are using dark colors in your design, it might be best to use a white background. Again, if using white dots, you’ll want to consider your background color. Experiment and try what will work best for the dot colors you have chosen.

2. Measure your piece, side-to-side and top-to-bottom Mark the lines to find the center of your project. If using a stencil, line up stencil’s center hole with center point drawn on project surface. Optional: You can use a compass from the center point, drawing lines of various widths to use as guides.

3. If you are using a stencil, it is best to use a small piece of tape (Scotch tape, Frog tape, masking, etc.) to hold the stencil in place. Use your chalk or chalk pencil to draw in the base lines. If you are doing an actual design without lines, use the chalk pencil as well.

4. In the center of your lined design, place your first painted dot. Size might be larger than others. Photos are included for you to follow along in the dot size and placement. There really are no detailed instructions as most of this will be personal preference. Once you see how the design in a project is already done, it’ll be easy for you to “follow along.”


5. When you dot, place your tool as much as you can in a vertical alignment to your surface. Tap the tool quickly to the surface and remove quickly. If the paint doesn’t stay where you placed it, consider using a different paint. If you make a mistake (and we all surely will!), remove mistake/dot with Q-tip. Retouch the background color using a small paintbrush with the same paint as the basecoat. Re-dot. (Optional: Use a small lazy susan to make turning your project easier when dotting.)

6. Wipe your tool off between colors.

7. If you are going to fill in a solid area, use various sizes of dots. Or you can draw chalk lines and make the solid area in a perfect lined design.

8. To accelerate drying time, you may use a hair dryer or fan. Sometimes the heat from a hair dryer will crack or crackle the paint. Learning through tutorials, a hair dryer can be used ONLY if it has a cool setting; otherwise, use a fan to expedite the drying time. Small handheld battery-operated fans are great for this or a small table top fan.

9. When your project is completely dry, slightly moisten a sheet of paper towel to remove the chalk lines or use a dampened Q-tip.

10. Optional: Spray or brush on a non-yellowing varnish/sealer.

Easy, huh? Are you hooked? There are wonderful tutorials to view on YouTube and other online locations. Check out Facebook dotting and mandala groups for projects people have posted that they created. Hmmm…wonder what surface you can create on next? Just enjoy and dot away.

ABOUT THE DESIGNER:              

Diana Bond has always loved art and never had time to really express herself in creativity due to working in the legal system for many years. Now retired, she and her doggies enjoy rainy and snowy (and sometimes sunny) days inside with lots of paint and tools to create this dotting technique. (The doggies watch and guard off evil art thieves!). She states that this form of art is very addictive but can give you a sense of relaxation, not only to the body but to the mind. She conveys that this form of art can be researched on the internet but she has given you an overall summary of how to get started. There are more techniques that can be used. So just be happy and dot away!


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    love this design.

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