The Design Cycle

59797307_283344982620337_6604598161426087936_nAn increasingly important theme of Print Club over the last few weeks has been the importance of samples and what we can learn from our experiments and evaluations in sketchbook. We are often looking at combining drypoint processes with building up textures on the plate and finding the different tonal qualities of various materials such as varnishes, glues, spray paints and sand. These then permit individual artists to log the initial phrases in what is a visual vocabulary and analyse how these can be employed in future images. Again it is important for me to see sketchbook as a repository of thinking and planning and an external hard drive for the brain. I include here some recent sketchbook samples including those made by dragging a comb through varnish and inking up the resultant lines and a more fully developed semi-abstract landscape by Ursula to present the connections. The design cycle is alive and well and living at Liverpool Independent Art School Rose Lane studios. Print Club runs on Friday and Sunday afternoons on a drop in basis.


Junk Generation


LIAS tutor Alison Little talks us through how junk can be used to generate visual ideas.

This latest sketchbook work came from a simple misplaced earing found when out walking my puppy dog. An assemblage of permanent markers was made, arranging them from light to dark. I drew around the earing with a light green marker pen then filling the space created from the earing with a light blue. The central space was blotted in a yellow tone, then using the other pens I increased the size of the pattern by going from light to dark, then returning to light. The next move was to repeat the process over the two pages, completing the process by filling in the remaining white space working through the same colour sequence.

An interesting working process, generating a striking pattern which could be developed into many forms of artwork.

DRaw>>>DRy point

April saw the first collaborative workshop brought to Rose Lane Studios. Life drawing tutor of many years, Paul Gatensby, brought just the morning session. Print guru Toc took over in the afternoon with the help of Kitty, the printing press. Toc talks about the full day workshop:

Brilliant day today for our first full day print workshop. We spent the morning life drawing and then, after some excellent vegan food prepared by Mike and Siobhan (Arty Party) we converted our drawings into dry point prints on our printing press “Kitty”. At the end of the session, we made time for a quick plenary and the enthusiasm was great. Warm thanks to all who came along and got so fully immersed in the process, to our excellent Beth for modelling for us and again to Mike and Siobhan for arriving with a feast for us. Watch this space for more dates for our next day courses in Soft Ground, Aquatint and Silver -plus loads more and a likely rerun of today’s session since it was so successful.

More workshops to follow.

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Pet Portrayals take Shape

The first of the animal art classes took place last Friday at leafy Rose Lane Studios.

Pencils were sharpened and we saw mans best friend brought to the page. the loving loyalty of the labrador transcribes to the sheet. Cocker spaniel curls, coarsely created using graphite sticks on brown papers.

Creative, clear and dynamic session producing a range of visuals while showing pooches at their prime.

Next class will see pastels tackle friendly felines.
Friday 10th May
Rose Lane Studios


07891 545144

To Book

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Earlier in the week the LIAS tutors got together to pull their craft skills in regards to jewellery making in a session lead by the great Paul Gatensby. Re-crafting their skills from years of education, teaching and creative practice they pulled together. The material of choice: a sheet of copper treated with ammonia. Turquoise endowered the panel, allowing for tonal ranges and the monochrome of the base to remain in vision. Pendant shapes were cut engaging in the services of a piercing saw. Although initially, resulting in the breaking of blades, the technique was mastered and the process hastened. After the drilling of holes, Gatensby concluded with a demonstration of ring making process’.

An engaging evening, jewellery making workshops to follow….


Tutors Talk Da Vinci


Mid way through the exhibition of Da Vinci works at the Walker Art gallery and before the main exhibition at the Queens Gallery in Buckingham Palace, LIAS Tutors talk about the great Master.

The Great Paul Gatensby spares a few thoughts

There many reasons to admire the Da Vinci Drawings, as evidence of his extraordinary inventiveness, delicacy of touch or consummate skill with such unforgiving media as silver point. Yet I’m always drawn first to his anatomy studies, (possibly because of my obsession with life drawing)
The Walker exhibition has ‘Muscles of the Upper Spine’ c 1510, a study which views the human body as a structure, a piece of engineering. In the modern world we might expect a dispassionate approach but Da Vinci lived in an age still informed by such medieval notions as the four humours and the received wisdom of ancient authors – many of whom had been lost in the West but were being newly translated into Latin from Arabic.

Da Vinci, however is breaking away from the ancient authorities and taking an empirical approach to acquiring knowledge via observation, experiment and analysis. His anatomical work is pure science.
There is something of this in the drawings, they are beautifully executed yet shorn of everything but the essential information; we might call them the first scientific illustrations.

Although known to artists (Rubens certainly saw them) the anatomical drawings were not published in their entirety until the late 19th century and thus represent one of the great ‘what if’ moments in humanities search for knowledge. We can neve know what impact his work might have had on medical history had it been published in his day. Still we are left with a remarkable insight into a remarkable mind.

Alison introduces some new perspectives

Although I enjoyed the exhibition I was disappointed by the lack of exhibits of Da Vinci’ works. I found the video insightful and the depth of information about creative process’ of the day remarkable. Graphically I was enthralled by the technique of writing in reverse, I am looking to replicate this visually, however I was planning to use software rather than a mirror.

Toc talks some more…

There are commemorative events about the work of the greatest master Leonardo Da Vinci around the country at the moment. The Liverpool Walker collection of his drawings is, I think, very well worth seeing. (It runs alongside the paying exhibition of Mackintosh and both catalogues can be bought together at a saving.) The drawings, of enormous subtlety and delicacy are all about looking as an act of discovery. They have the remarkable logic and clarity of scientific investigation combined with the grace and elegance of the Renaissance artist. In short, they are largely perfect. Outside the show are two short videos of research and context and these, as much as the show itself gave me an insight into his thinking. Like most artists, his prep sketches were never meant for public consumption but as steps toward his more finished painting and sculpture. I wonder how he would have felt to see people queuing around framed pages from his sketchbooks. The video explaining his use of materials, hand tinted paper, red and black chalks of varied hardnesses, ink wash and quill pen and very modern mixes of watercolour and gum Arabic stored in oyster shells rather than plastic spoke of a time without the environmental damage of our mass produced plastics. It was seeing his materials and simple processes that helped me feel connected across time to him more than the work itself.

Exhibition continues until the 6th of May.

More about Da Vinci at the Walker Gallery

Etching: a life form


Drypoint Etching from the Model; A one day workshop with Paul Gatenby and Tony O’Connell.

We’re really looking forward to this workshop where participants will spend the morning drawing from the life model then (after a complimentary lunch!) use those drawings to make a drypoint etching.

This is the first in a series of All Day Specials from the LIAS print Project so watch this space for details. All materials are provided although your own sketchbook and drawing media are recommended.

Thursday 11.04.19

10-4 pm


Contact Paul directly at for details and booking.