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Ellen Nobel’s Visiting Artist Workshop at Irvine School

Everyone can make art.  Examples found of ancient cave paintings tell us that we’ve been making art since the beginning. Art making is one of the earliest activities that children love to do.  Art gives us pleasure—both making art and even just looking at art.

Our bodies experience physical reactions to art. A google search can provide countless articles that specify that our blood pressure decreases, dopamine increases, and feel-good hormones calm us. We relax. That’s why the adult coloring book has become so popular. Visual diaries take those coloring books a step further. We can draw without needing to put our thought into words first.

Making art is more than merely making a picture. It is a means in which we communicate with ourselves. We can tell ourselves things through symbolic images. Our subconscious wants to tell us things. Our art is a narrative of symbols and stories that we want to tell ourselves, that we want to share with others.

Guided Face Project

Ellen guided students, pen stroke by stroke, to draw the head of a person. Everyone will drew the same one, with black felt marker on white paper, then colored and decorate their person. Students were asked to write  about their person: what the name might be, where did she come from, what does she do, what does she like, what kind of a person is she? Does she have a big family? And anything else they want to add.

Then drawings were  taped to the wall in one large random grouping. Students  looked at all the faces and saw how, even though they had been guided simultaneously for the same image, each picture looks different. They discussed the pictures by discussing what the group thinks that person is like.