Creativity and Learning


LIAS tutors express their thoughts on creativity and learing:

We should ask ourselves why we believe that one person is an artist and another isn’t. The usual answers are that we feel we ourselves “can’t draw” to make a naturalistic image like a photograph. (Usually because a poor quality teacher has told us this when we were younger and so we have felt discouraged and given up, thereby robbing ourselves of our ten thousand hours of practice. Early lack of encouragement can take on the harsh voice of our own internal critic and be the most damaging to our creativity. Learn to refute that inner voice and remember that all little ones draw when they get a chance just for play. They are not judging themselves or trying to value their efforts financially but are drawing and painting simply for fun. We can remember that our own creativity is also play. We should encourage kids who want to draw and paint and then use that same openness and encouragement for ourselves. We should think about playing and experimenting with materials and process rather than trying to make the perfect piece. That will take care of itself if we play enough. Two extremely important cannon artists best sum this philosophy up for me. The mighty Joseph Beuys said, “everyone is an artist” to embody that openness and the hugely important Pablo Picasso said, “ It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.” On his ongoing efforts to recapture his playfulness and creative innocence. It’s easy to take on negative comments and allow them to limit our creativity- the truth is negative comments about our creativity are only ever made by people who lack it themselves so do not have the relevance and liveliness of our own willingness to play, make a mess and make mistakes. It’s how we learn.

LIAS tutor Toc

Should the Department of Education decide to replace ‘The 3Rs’ with a new catchphrase, I have one they’ll be welcome to purchase.
It’s the acronym: D.R.A.W.
It stands for Drawing, Reading, Arithmetic and Writing. It has the twin advantages of (a), correct spelling, (‘rithmetic’ for heaven’s sake!), and, (b), including drawing as an essential skill for life.
Drawing begins with seeing. Then more seeing. To draw is to analyse and interpret, to get to know or wonder about your subject however modest it may appear at first. Suppose one draws a leaf. To draw a leaf is to marvel at its structure, wonder at how it attaches to the stem, and what those veins and cells are for and why is it a different colour on the underside. The same applies to a tree, a bridge a street, the human body and so on. You may be drawing the appearance of a thing but you’re discovering its spirit. So, should every child be taught to draw? Reword the question this way: should we deny any child the chance to wonder at the world?
Did I forget to mention it’s also great fun?

LIAS Tutor Paul Gatensby



Gallery Cleaner Mistakes Rubbish for Artwork


By our investigative reporter Slias Yarner

A row has broken out about rubbish at cutting edge art venue the Greentrousers Gallery. Our source tells us that gallery cleaner, Mrs Maggie Gittens from Kirkdale, has refused to dump some bin bags full of rubbish as she considers them works of art.

Gallery director and radical curator, Mr Hans Upp, told our reporter, ‘I’ve been asking her for days now to take the bin bags out but all I get is gibberish.’

When asked for a statement Mrs Gittens told us, ‘These bin bags are a metaphor for our very existence. The contain the detritus of our lived experience in the form of the cast-off residue of the objects which we value. By choosing to designate them as rubbish we are alienating ourselves for the forces which formed us and leave ourselves vulnerable to nihilistic regression, now will you leave me alone while I’m tryna ‘ave a fag.’

When it was pointed out to her that the bags were starting to smell and there was a weird brown liquid seeping out all over the new laminate flooring she said, ‘This artworks straddles the line between the organic and the inorganic, the plastic membrane containing the inner world of organic transmutation; furthermore just as the human skin can puncture with the loss of vital life force so this trail inner fluids describes the life cycle of constant decay and rebirth and if you don’t mind I think I can hear my kettle boiling.’

Mr Upp, later stated, ‘I knew I should have given that job to one of my pals’

Kitty comes home

Kitty Come Home

So today “Kitty” moved house, in other words our lovely, very heavy cast iron printing press (made from a converted mangle and named after Kitty Wilkinson ) came to its new home at the Art Room on Rose Lane. More correctly it should now be seen as the Art Rooms, in the plural, since we have annexed the store room next to Paul’s original teaching space as our new print room. The new addition is not a huge space but it is a definite expansion of our resources and will allow us to run with the momentum we had started to build up over our Biennial residency in Saint John’s Market.

We started at 9 this morning and our heroic friend Gary, (who has helped us in the background with the logistical side of making things happen since we started printing) arrived with his van. The back of Saint John’s toward the freight lifts was the workings of the old market where deliveries would have, at one time in its hey day been frantic and constant. There are 4 lifts but these quieter days only one is needed and operational. It is very different in this back-stage area not meant for customers with an austere feel like an abandoned Soviet state hospital. I had to stop to take some photos before we left…

With Gary taking the brunt of the heavy lifting and Paul and I working very hard we managed to get all of the kit, including the plan chest and materials cupboard, tables and chairs and a tonne of print kit across the city to its new home. Paul, Liz and I then reassembled the press and emptied the room of various dumped junk including 5 broken vacuum cleaners and set up the new print extension as a baby brother to the Art Room proper. Print days will soon be on Sunday and Friday afternoons with a possibility of Thursdays too, if there is demand. We’ve had great fun over the summer working at Saint John’s and will miss the lovely Italian cafe and its excellent cakes, easy access to Wilkinsons and Ryman’s for printing handouts and lots of other benefits, but today felt like a big step up and it felt like coming home.

Sketching in the presence of Royalty

close up roof

LIAS Tutor, Alison Little, has spent a delightful week in the midst of her native South East, taking the chance to fit in some urban sketching on her travels.

Starting with some views of the new retail mecca: the Eden Centre, based in High Wycombe. Exploring transparencies and simple line work she captures the hustle and bustle of the shoppers. A short wait allowed an opportunity for an image of the contemporary bus depot exploring the reflective qualities of the glass frontage, numerous automatic doors and the array of untinted windows present on the waiting single and double-decker buses.

A day in Windsor allowed for a pen and ink image of the Castle to wake up the creative urges. Due to the fine weather eating outside for the midday meal provided more sketching opportunities. A details graphite depiction was completed while waiting for lunch to be served. ‘The Prince Harry’ public house took centre stage in the afternoons artistic pursuits, red white and blue bunting transcending the streets of Royal Windsor.

Although Alison is no a major Royalist her next day was also passed in the company of the Nations Kings and Queen’s at Westminster Abbey. Two very strong graphite images were completed looking at the main stained glass window and the Gothic architecture of the Ancient Cathedral.

And what has the LIAS tutor to say:

‘It was a joy and a pleasure to return to drawing in the places which informed my only a little decadent youth, it has revived my interests in Gothic Architecture which I will look to continue when I return to Liverpool.’

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Sketchers put on a Show

Gatenby Watches Urban Sketchers Put Up Own Exhibition

Fresh from his exertions in various London pubs, LIAS tutor Paul Gatenby, throws himself into the rigours of watching people putting up their own exhibition. Although ostensibly the curator of the Urban Sketchers Exhibition, part of the Liverpool Biennial Independents, Paul managed to delegate all the work of hanging the show to the rest of the group, we picture him here ‘supervising’ LIAS colleague, Toc and Urban Sketchers stalwart, Jamie Pickering hard at work with a digital spirit level.

Meanwhile the exhibition itself provides a fair representation of the Liverpool Urban sketchers work. There is work from 20 different artists and a range of different approaches to drawing en plein air including pen and watercolour but also collage (and yes she really did do it plein air) Most of the work is completed on the day on one of the Urban Sketchers monthly meet ups (which take place on the first Saturday of each month. See their Facebook page or contact Paul Gatenby for details.), although one or two have been completed later or taken into a different medium such as Etching.

The show is part of the Liverpool Biennial independents and is at the former George Henry Lee building, Liverpool,(entrance in Houghton Street) and runs until the 27th October.

Picture Credits: Margaret Cummins, Jamie Pickering and Liz Miller

Art + Poetry

Scan Fluctulation installation

LIAS Tutor Alison Little talks about making art from Poetry.

Artists have used literature and poetry as a source of inspiration for Centuries. Some of the most famous include Millais (John Everett), Ophelia, the Pre Raphaelite who took the source of singing before drowning from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Lewis Carroll’ Mad Tea Party from Alice in Wonderland was depicted by the famed Surrealist Salvador Dali.

Alison earlier works looked toward contemporary poetry as a source of inspiration of textiles work. She fell in love with ‘In the Red Dress I Wear to Your Funeral’ written by Erin Belieu and wanted to start work on a depiction immediately.

In the Red Dress I wear to Your Funeral

‘All the Fun of the Fair’ was originally a central chapter in the novel Alison is working on. The art form took the form of a large lobster using shredded paper and polythene as the material for the form. This was displayed and a section of the chapter was read for Liverpool’s Sound city. From this, an installation was created as part of the Biennial Independent at Bold Place.

All the Fun of the Fair

Her latest poem, ‘Fluctuation’ was written for National Poetry Day. In this, she uses the first-person to depict emotions related to mood swings and possibly Bi-Polar. Exploiting the paradox of up and Down, High and Low, and ultimately heaven and Hell. The installation proposed will be created using a variety of found object, examples of ethnology relevant to the range of emotions and experiences presented. The tennis racket represents changes in mood, above this, we suspend objects from the ceiling using invisible string, below we drop objects on the floor using corse fibred strings. The top section is illuminated using a strong light source, the lower level in a contrasting shadow. The upper section presents a brightly coloured weightless table tennis ball, this is surrounded by butterflies to show a sense of uplifting, positive thoughts. The coloured petals and the paint palettes indicate creativity, pages of books and music notes indicate further artistry. The neat presentation of pill packets shows birth control and an indication of a committed stable relationship. In paradox, the underside of the racket presents a hard rock like ball. the floor is littered with used condoms, a vision of casual, nameless, regrettable sex. A torn pillow and a dishevelled ironing blanket present an inhabitable sleeping environment. Empty beer cans and spilt over drinking glasses show excessive alcohol usage, this is combined with paraphernalia indicating narcotic abuse. Negative lifestyle choices are demonstrated further by the array of luminous club flyers, discarded cigarette packets and empty medicine bottle.


We have an installation which will bring meaning to the initial poem. Alison will look for opportunities to create and display the installation over the next year.

3 art events: 1 solitary Saturday


Saturday the 13th of October is one jam packed Saturday for LIAS. Three events spread over one single day, all the LIAS tutors on hand.

We begin the day by inviting urban sketchers to become urban etchers and develop suitable drawings into dry point intaglio prints. This is a great process and easy to learn. Numbers will be limited to ten initially because of the size of the space available but we will run more than one session if there is the demand. Simply bring an image you would like to develop into a print of we can provide one. Workshop lead by Tony O’Connell, or the more commonly known as Toc, all materials provided.

To Book for Urban Etchers

Secondly we invite you to the Private view of Urban Sketchers exhibition, I images of Liverpool in a variety of mediums, featuring works by many Liverpool based artists. The cities ancient structures balanced against cutting edge contemporary architecture, the Cathedrals which hover above the city and the pubs which adorn the streets of the Metropolis. Images which capture café culture, visions of vitality which form the soul of the city. Light refreshments, exhibition continues until the 27th of October.

To Book for Urban Sketchers Private View

Finishing off with a two hour, vibrant, portraiture workshop lead by LIAS tutor Siobhan Carmichael. Look at muscle structure, likeness depiction and using of light when drawing. Looking to cover a variety of expressions used by the model, how we capture these in addition to the inner personality of the sitter. Materials provided and session to be accompanied by Mediterranean style food provided by LIAS’ latest addition, Mike the Chef.

To Book for Portraiture Workshop

A day of creative outpouring, why not take on either one, two or three events.