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I am mostly fascinated with the idea of the painter and the poet being an instrument, whose work reveals something universal, timeless, something that touches what it is to be human. 


The idea we are imprinted with genetic memory, drawn from the unconscious mind, drives me with each artistic expression I coax into existence 


My painting explores many techniques because of a lifetime of studied works.  I approach the canvas openly, imagining when I paint, being in the airless Caves of Lascaux, deep in the earth drawing, painting images paying homage to the human endeavour to find meaning. 


My poetry arrives with an equally spontaneous approach although I have no professional training, my love of poetry from a young age and the practice of engaging the unconscious mind are tools to find the rhythm, metaphor - the music.


In a sense I explore, the painter/artist/poet as psychopomp, ritual maker/shaman, and conduit to spiritual dimensions.

Ellen Michel, celebrated Heidelberg Artist, Teacher, Art Therapist, Writer, Mentor and Shaman devotes her amazing breadth of skills and knowledge to the quest of promoting the human right to access self-expression.

Ellen’s career spans 40 years of the Art Scene in Melbourne from Community Arts to Private Commissions and Public Lectures. Her practice as an Artist and her study of Anthropology, Psychology, Art Therapy, Shamanism and Practices of Meditative States brings expert knowledge and experience to the Course.

"My training as a tonal realist painter, specializing in oil over 40 years, has been a wonderful foundation from which to develop my painting technique and style. With five solo exhibitions and numerous awards for painting, my body of work continues to thrive mainly because I love combining teaching and painting. The combination of practice and teaching refreshes my view of myself as a student and teacher. My aim is to pass I on (passion) something of the pain and the ecstatic joy I experience in an attempt to make a painting. I encourage all who have the desire to paint, to give it a go. It is a human right to create, and not a ‘gift’ limited to a few.​

​​I am mostly fascinated with the idea of the painter being an instrument, whose work reveals something universal, something that touches what it is to be human. My work explores many techniques as I approach the canvas openly, with an automatic response. I imagine when I paint, being in the airless Caves of Lascaux, deep in the earth drawing, painting images for the fecundity of life, paying homage to the human endeavour to find meaning. In a sense I explore, the painter/artist as psycho-pomp, ritual maker/shaman and conduit to spiritual dimensions."


1992 – Bachelor of Arts, Sociology, Anthropology and Art History Majors, Cinema Studies, Contemporary Feminist Thought, Minors. La Trobe University, Bundoora, Melbourne, Australia.

1999 – Diploma of Art Therapy, Ikon Institute of Victoria, Melbourne.

1979 -1985  Studied under Frank Gill, Mitcham, Melbourne. (tonal realist & colourist).

1972 – 1974  Studied under Alan Martin, Eltham, Melbourne (A tonal impressionist student of the celebrated Max Meldrum).


Art Exhibitions, Projects, Workshops, Talks and Art Performances

2011 – Our Changing State, performance art with Heidelberg Primary School, an Artist in Schools Program.

2011 – Mosaic Seat, Alice Downunder in the land of Wonder. collaboration with students, Doncaster Primary School.

2010 – Heights Primary School – ten panels, Let Medicine be your Food and Food your Medicine.

2010 – Rosanna Golf Links Primary. Breezeway Mural -Healthy Living Health Life.

2009 – 2015 Art Therapist, Able Australia, facilitating yearly exhibition.

2009 – Exploring the Farmyard and Vegetable Garden 15m painted panel, Rosanna Golf Links Primary School

2009 – Neighbourhood Community House Project, Nine Painted Panels, for the Collingwood Justice Centre, Vic.

2008 – Hands on for Healing Community Mosaic wall 2.5x3m, Austin/Repatriation Hospitals, Heidelberg Vic.

2008-10 – Commission by Austin Repatriation Hospital,Heidelberg, Vic. for 44 oil paintings

2008 – One and Many – a collaborative collage, Olympic Adult

Education,Heidelberg Heights,Vic.

2008 – Wild Wonder Wisdom, Panels, Austalian flora, fauna, water land sea, Doncaster Primary School, Doncaster,Vic

2007 – In the Flow – facade mural North Yarra Community Health Centre, Collingwood

2006 – Body, Head Feet and Hands, Painted Tile Project, Doncaster Primary School, Vic.

2006 – Meditation Garden, Rosanna Fire Station Community House Work for the Dole Project.

2004- 2005 – Wall of the Imagination and Sculpture, mosaic and ferro cement render Watsonia Neighbourhood House.

2005 – Serpents Head path Mia Mia Gallery, Westerfolds Park, Templestowe. Greencore project.

2004-2005 – Mosaic Panels, Doncaster Primary School, Vic.

2004 – Exhibition Doctors of Northcote, ‘Finding the Heart Beat of Northcote

2003 – Painting Workshop for Outback Women, Dirranbandi, Queensland.

2002 – Doncaster Primary School Arts after school program. Art Therapy workshop for Heritage Australia, Canberra.

2002 – Watsonia Neighbourhood House, Art Therapy workshop. Children’s Art Holiday Program ‘Weaving the Web’, a sculptural performance.

2002 –Demonstration of painting Doncaster, Ringwood, Brighton, Heidelberg Art Societies

2001 – Royal Women’s Hospital ‘Reclaiming the art of Dying’ – ‘Women’s Day 2000’, Dianella Community Health, Broadmeadows.

2000 Exhibition, Doing Art Studio,‘Serpent’s Mouth Open’, giant serpent canvas and paint. ‘Looking at a coffin. Help! ‘ installation Open Studio Banyule City Council.

1999 – Established with Rosemary Mangiamele Art and Soul Coffins and Ceremonies to offer a creative/healing approach to death and dying.

1999 – Australian Film and Television School Art work and direction.

 1998 – Exhibition of painting, ‘On the road to Rhodes’, Fitzroy Gallery, Fitzroy, Melbourne.

1992 – ‘Art Adventure’ workshop funded by Northcote Council.

1991 – 1999 – T.P.I. Return Service Art Group.

1990 – Hamilton Art Show First Prize.

1990 – Wimmera Art Show, Best Painting.

1990 – Bright Art Show ‘Miniature Prize.

1991 – Warragul Rotary Art Show Prize.

1992 – Mornington Rotary Art Show Prize

1989 – Artists in Schools Program. Grades 4,5 & 6 Four remote Primary schools in North Eastern Victoria.

1989 – Wangaratta Art Show,Grand Prize, Art Gallery Council Collection

1990 – Wangaratta Art Show Grand Prize, Art Gallery Council Collection

1989 – Exhibition of Painting, ‘Veritas Galleria’ Eldorado , Victoria.

1988 – Exhibition of painting ‘Olive Lodge’, Oxley, Victoria

1987 – Australian Rural Prize, Wangaratta Collection

1986 – Australian Rural Prize, Wangaratta Collection

1979 – 1991 – Teaching The Centre for Continuing Education, Wangaratta. The Pathway, Adult Education Yarrawonga. Bright Community Centre, Benalla Artist Guild, Wangaratta Art Society North Ringwood and Park Orchards Community centres.


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The Greek Collection

The exhibition ‘On the Road to Rhodes’ 1998 - Fitzroy.

In 1997 I traveled to Greece on the invitation of a student to the tiny village of Katavia at the southernmost tip of Rhodes Island in the archipelagos of the Dodecanese Islands.  Immediately I was drawn to the charms of the village and the subsistence living of the villagers. I spent about 2 weeks painting around the village, and the 220 km of coastline in my small hire car. On the road I painted small oil sketches 41x51cm for ease of travel, the larger work was painted on my return from sketches.

The eye of the painter feasted.  The blue and white light pervading everything, the whitewashed houses, and laneways, the aquamarine clear seas, the olive trees, the rocky hills. I found a new freedom and a new relationship between the canvas and the indigenous Greek light. I learned to beat up the canvas, make it old, give it that special light that is only the Greek Islands’ light.

The Austin Collection

The Austin Hospital Collection – healing tool of nature.

 The proposal was for 30 paintings of landscapes, containing animals and plants of Australia, to hang in both ‘Outpatients’ of the Austin and the Heidelberg Repatriation Hospitals to create a healing atmosphere for patients attending. 

Most of the paintings are in an impressionist style of landscapes around Melbourne and Victoria with added detailed cameos of specific animals or plants. 

This project served to deepen my love and understanding of the environs and the animals and plants of Australia.  I continue to search and discover more of what this wonderful country has to offer.

Pilbarra Collection 2010

My quest to paint the Pilbarra in the vast Yarrie Station, Western Australia was a life-changing experience. I likened it to Alice’s rabbit hole, turning on its head my perception of ‘painter in and of’ the landscape.  Suddenly making a mark on the canvas to unearth an essence became a daunting challenge. While overwhelmed by the intense ‘masculine energy’ of the heat, the massive rock formations erupting out of plains, the wiry beard of the Spinifex, the straight line of the ongoing horizon, my intuition told me ‘to look more closely to find the ‘mystery’ of the feminine.  I found evidence of the feminine flow in the dry creek beds of red gravel, its endless flowing patterns of opening and closing forms.  I felt I had arrived home and I was wooed.

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