Mini life drawing symposium 2021

The second virtual Life Drawing Symposium was run on 05/06/21 by Veronica Lawlor and Melanie Reim.

The format and content of the day was broadly similar to 2020 symposium, with lots of information, demonstration and practical exercises.

The workshop was organised into two parts.

Morning session

The morning session was all about image design and composition, using thumbnailing as rapid technique to generate ideas and design the image.

The first exercise involved creating 10 thumbnails in 20-minutes, exploring a room to find subjects and compositions of interest.

Rapid thumbnail exercise exploring different points of view

The thumbnailing technique was then use to explore composition by taking three objects and playing with their relative foreground, midground and background positions and scale.

Rapid thumbnailing exploring composition

In the final part of the session we were given 15-minutes to develop one of the thumbnails into a more finished drawing.

Three objects composition 1

Three objects composition 2

Afternoon session

The second part of the workshop was about drawing expressive hands and faces. Just like the morning, it involved a mixture of theory, demonstration and rapid practice.

The first part focused on drawing hands with the help of a model.

Sketches of hands thinking about the underlying structure

This was followed by drawing faces using basic geometric shapes and rules to build up basic features. I found this particularly helpful in getting me to think about applying tone and shadow to give the illusion of volume.

Front and three quarter view with geometric shapes and guidelines added

Following this, we did rapid drawings of the model with different facial expressions and used exaggeration as a way to create more dynamic images.

Rapid drawings of facial expressions

The final part of the day combined expressive hands and faces into a single dynamic exercise, where the model, in character, delivered a monologue using a range of facial and hand movements to express what she was saying.

Dynamic poses


A really important lesson for me was to start more explicitly use artistic licence to create a narrative illustration with impact. This means taking liberties with space, experimenting with form and really owning the picture space.

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