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Ellen Nobel Visiting Artist Workshop at Irvine School


Visual Diary Lesson Plans

Guided face: I will guide participants, pen stroke by stroke, to draw the head of a person. Everyone will draw the same one, with black felt marker on white paper. Then everyone will color in and decorate their person. Then I will instruct them 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.

Notes on writing:   There is no right or wrong response. This is your book. You may always comeback to edit or add to it later.

Then we will tape the pictures to the wall in one large random grouping. No one needs to say which is their picture. I won’t ask. Then we will look at all the faces and see how, even though the participants have been guided simultaneously for the same image, each picture looks different. We will talk about the pictures by discussing what the group thinks that person is like.

Scribble drawing:  With one pencil crayon of a darker color of their choosing, each participant freely draws a scribble over their sheet of paper. Then I instruct them to quietly look at their page for a few moments and see if a shape seems to emerge from within the marks. They then will ‘flesh out’ that image by adding other colors and decorations. The idea is not that they adhere religiously to the lines of the page, but that the lines have suggested a form that is meaningful to the artist, who will do whatever they need to to embellish that form. (I will have an example.)

Again, I will ask that each student takes some time to write about their drawing. Questions they might like to consider: How did  I feel when I saw that form? Have I seen this form often? Why might it be meaningful to me? Does it remind me of something, someone, or a certain time/activity? If the line could tell me something, what might it say.

After, I will offer if anyone would like to share what they discovered, but doing so isn’t mandatory.  I usually find many are excited about what they have learned and are eager to share. For others, it can become a very private endeavor.

Apple tree: With color pencils, draw a picture of themselves picking apples from a tree.

Then I ask them to write about it. Things to consider: How big is the tree compared to you? How many apples did you draw on the tree—why that amount and not less/more? How many apples have you already picked in your picture? Did you draw the environment (grass, sky, sun, other trees) or is the page blank—why? What might the environment tell you? Did you draw yourself with tools—such as a ladder or long handle? Was it easy/difficult to pick the apples? If the apples and tree were a symbol, what would it be for you?