Personal Narratives TRACK: Lesson 4, Family Drama


  • Show a moment of drama with any members of your family.
  • Drama can take many forms: a forceful argument, a quiet moment, the anticipation before an event happens.
Krishna and His Family Admire a Solar Eclipse
Krishna and His Family Admire a Solar Eclipse


  • Don’t worry about achieving a likeness of the family members.
  • The larger objective of the prompt is to explore the dynamics that are occurring between the family members.
  • Facial expressions are just one visual tool you can use.
  • A gesture in a person’s arm, a chair that is knocked over, can be just as effective as a facial expression.
  • Consider point of view: as a viewer, are we right there in the scene, during an argument? Are we as the viewers, the person being yelled at?
Personal Narratives Track
Yanjun Li
  • Lighting can determine the mood of the artwork.
  • Think about what lighting situation is a good fit for the scene.
Female Face, Laurie #30
Flickr album: Female Face, Laurie
reference photo tips
  • Exaggerated, dramatic facial expressions might be useful to convey this narrative.
  • It’s highly unlikely you’ll be able to get reference photos of that family member making a specific facial expression.
  • Instead, shoot many photos of yourself making the facial expression, and then combine that with a photo of the family member.


Illuminated Manuscript: Cain & Abel, Caravaggio, Shmuel Shapiro, Edvard Munch, The Sacrifice of Isaac, Filippo Brunelleschi & Lorenzo Ghiberti, Maggi Hambling, Victorian Illustration, Carl Schleicher

brainstorming & Sketching
Brainstorming for Artists
art media & format
  • Use any art media, 2D and/or 3D.
  • You might consider a format that allows for multiple images in a single artwork: a triptych, a 4 panel comic, etc.

Character Design: Facial Expressions

Drawing a wide range of facial expressions is a great skill for character design! In this drawing tutorial, prompts for different facial expressions are provided: confused, furious, disgusted, heartbroken, and flirty.

This video explores different ways of achieving a expression with Procreate. Demo led by Teaching Artists Deepti Menon and Jordan McCracken-Foster.

81 min. video

Light & Shadow in Portrait Painting

This video explains how lighting can be used in paintings to show form in a portrait. You’ll see how to break down the specifics of light and shadow: direct light, reflected light, shadow core, types of shadows, how light effects color. 

Lighting can establish a mood or narrative for a painting, and more. Lecture by Art Prof Clara Lieu.

6 min. video

Show us what you make!

Mixed Media Acrylic Painting, Lauryn, banner