Members' Blog

Artists Make a Better World
Submitted by on 20th August 2023

Recent research has shown that participating in artistic activity, making art, or just visiting a gallery or museum improves our health and wellbeing, with positive outcomes throughout the stages of our lives.

Open Studios North Fife has been supporting people to feel healthier and happier for 18 years by providing many opportunities for people to be creative and visiting creative spaces.

We are involved with the Scottish Contemporary Art Network’s 'Artists Make a Better World' campaign. It raises awareness of the many ways that artists contribute to Scotland’s wellbeing. Every day for a week, we will be highlighting how artists improve our health and happiness, strengthening communities and supporting a range of voices to be heard.

To support the ‘Artists Make a Better World’ campaign, Willie Rennie MSP came to meet some members of Open Studios North Fife to hear more about it. The visit took place at jewellery designer, Alana Peden's East Nook Studio in St Andrews, Fife, which also houses the Nook Collective which stocks a wonderful unique range of design, art and handmade items to buy. The studio was admired (with some serious Studio Envy going on), cake eaten, and members of the group gave their personal insight into how art, and being an artist, has made made us happier and healthier; has made our communities stronger and our world more beautiful.

Shown in the photo: Willie Rennie MSP, Jane Wheeler, Alana Peden, Andrea McMillan, Hayley Mills, Jan Silvera, Bun Mitchell, Cally Nurse, Lesley Burden, Taking photo Gillian McFarland, Others there and not in photo Max and Ellen McCance, Graham Bennison, Andy McKie.

Hayley Mills, Chair of Open Studios North Fife said “We are delighted that Willie has taken the time to meet with us and hear how artists make such a fundamental contribution to the well being of Scotland. Everyday our artists make life better for many people, it is great that this campaign highlights this.”

Willie Rennie MSP said: “It was great to visit Open Studios North Fife and learn more about the Scottish Contemporary Art Network. Artists and the creative sector in Fife and across Scotland make a huge contribution to our society and individual well-being. That contribution should be celebrated and supported.”

Helen Moore from the Scottish Contemporary Art Network also said "Open Studios North Fife play a really important role in giving a behind the scenes view of some of the artworks that we enjoy in public galleries and spaces. From their studios, artists share skills and help others to take part in creative activities. While times are hard for so many Scots, we want to remind policymakers that arts and culture is a route into improving life for everyone: from community-building in our small towns and rural communities to transforming our city streets.”

Join us in supporting this campaign by giving it a like or sharing it forward #ArtistsMakeABetterWorld
Details about the campaign can be found here

The Spirits of Patchwork and Quilting
Submitted by Andrea McMillan on 21st April 2022

The origin of patchwork and quilting comes from a desire to recycle. Small pieces of fabric, from old worn clothes, were sewn together to make warm quilts. They were quilted – stitched through three layers – to make sure the wadding (the soft, warm middle layer) stayed in place. Quilting was also used to repair and reinforce garments.

Nowadays, we can buy beautiful cotton fabrics by the yard, along with a variety of waddings. I do, but in keeping with the spirit of P&Q, I do my best to save and reuse as much of my material as possible. I have a bag full of little scraps of fabric, and only throw bits away when they are absolutely too small to use.

I don’t make bed quilts, but my wall hangings are created using the same techniques – most of them feature applique and free-machine quilting.
A couple of years ago I made 5 different coloured blocks by layering tiny scraps of material onto a backing, and stitching all over them. These were used to make my wall-hanging “If Mondrian could Quilt”. But there were bits of these new blocks left over, so I used them to make “Cathedral Window” – leftover leftovers!

I bought a bag of silk pieces some 20 years ago, from a dress-maker who specialised in evening dresses. I am still using them up, and they appear in a lot of my more contemporary work where colour takes centre stage.

My Kandinsky-inspired Circles hangings are made with quilted pieces left over from “Colour Blocks”. I have also made a few small framed Circles pieces, including the pre-Covid “Circles behaving Irresponsibly” and the lockdown “Circles at a Social Distance”. The fabric for these circles all came out of the silk and scraps bag.

Last year’s Christmas wreath was made using red and green pieces from the scraps bag. And, I have to say, there were more red and green fabrics in the bag that I didn’t use – it’s fair to say that I was spoiled for choice.

A recent work is “Salmon Circle”. The salmon were stitched individually and then added to the background fabric. The wadding and backing for each fish was, again, left over from a previous project. I used fabrics from my stash for the salmon themselves, but made the corner fish motifs from the same pieces.

Last month I was rummaging through my fabrics drawers and found a small sample left over from my City&Guilds days, over 20 years ago. It was an experiment in Bondaweb painting – I painted the iron-on side of a piece of bondaweb with Brushos, in a random fashion, and ironed it onto white cotton. The adhesive fixed the paint to the fabric and I had a colourful result. (Fun to try, just remember not to iron it afterwards if you don’t want a sticky, colourful iron!). Finding it again sparked an idea, so I free-machine stitched over the fabric to create a fantasy landscape.

I love buying fabric, and take great care in choosing the right material for a piece. When I made memory pieces from trips abroad (when I could make trips abroad, that is), I bought as much of the fabric on site as I could. But I possibly get more satisfaction by creating from what I already have - the challenge is not to buy any new materials. I feel the P&Q spirits are nodding approvingly, and a scrap has to be very, very small before I can bring myself to put it in the bin.

Welcome to my Studio!
Submitted by Jennifer Robson on 20th April 2022
  • Emergence Graphite on paper Jennifer Robson
  • Roots Graphite on paper by Jennifer Robson
  • Jennifer Robson artist drawing in the woods with her dog
  • collage paper drawing on a moss stump in the woods jennifer robson artist
  • pastel painting of Scottish woodland floor by Jennifer Robson Artist
  • Sketchbook page with pastel drawing of fallen tree roots by Jennifer Robson Artist
  • Graphite on paper drawing 3 bodies lying down in the woodland by Jennifer Robson
  • Woman - charcoal and chalk on paper by Jennifer Robson

Hello! I'd like to welcome you to my new studio in Ladybank. This will be the first time I've exhibited as part of North Fife Open Studios and I'm so excited. I moved to Fife a few years ago, and I love it here, especially as Ladybank is surrounded by beautiful inspiring woodland. I'm originally from Dundee and commuted to my studio at WASPS but when the pandemic happened, I could not get to my studio due to my health, so we moved to a bigger house in Ladybank that has a huge shed in the garden, which I am planning to convert to the studio of my dreams.

I create visceral drawings and paintings based on the human figure, animal human hybrids and anthropomorphic animals. My practice is rooted in myth and storytelling, and I use the body in nature as vessel, to explore, interrogate, and express the human experience. My work is informed by the regular practice of life drawing, and I am also a life drawing tutor at Forgan Arts Centre and Duncan of Jordanstone Aces Programme. During the first lockdown I created online life drawing courses you can do at home. To find out more visit

New Work - Emergence 2022

My work has always been a way for me to explore and process my experiences. I have struggled with anxiety and depression since 2009 and I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease in 2013. I could not trust my mind or body. Connecting with nature during mindful walks with Leia, my dog, in the local woods, would sometimes be the only respite I would get from constant pain, physically and emotionally. Focusing intensely on lichen for 20 mins really got me out of some dark times. It soothed me.

It's been eight years since diagnosis and I am finally in remission from Crohn's Disease, (still has it's moments but I can eat mostly what I want and I mostly have energy again) and I have worked so hard to manage and look after my mental health by resting and pacing myself, that things are going well and the future feels hopeful.

For over ten years, I've been making drawings in my moleskin sketchbooks, these are raw emotional drawings that I honestly didn't understand when I started making them. I put them out there via a separate anonymous Instagram account, called The Girl with a Tail here, as I could see there was something in these drawings, raw, exciting and different from the work I was used to making, and deeply me. I wanted to get them out of the sketchbook and make more of them, but I did not want to lose that rawness. In 2017 I returned to life drawing which was amazing and humbling. After a couple of years of intense learning and upskilling and teaching, the two drawing styles are coming together and I am finding a more authentic bold style of work which is truly me. I have started to make the work I've always dreamed of, but been terrified I wasn't good enough to make it.

I now also understand that the connecting with that place, the woods, the sanctuary, could be used to find a way back to connecting with my own body again after trauma and disconnection of physical and mental illness. I am healing. The first piece to emerge is the drawing pictured below.

Come visit me, and I'll tell you more. I look forward to meeting you!


Siv MacArthur, venue 10
Submitted by Siv MacArthur on 9th April 2022

I am aware of the effect colours can have on feelings and mood. Relaxing colour schemes were purposefully used already 50 years ago in the psychiatric hospital where I started my nursing career. Lately I have been thinking more about my own emotional relationship with colour. Apart from finding some colours mouthwatering (I call those my wine gum colours), stimulating, soothing and/or incredibly beautiful I have also noticed that my colour choices and subjects are linked to what happens in my life, life around me and even world event. In happier times I am drawn to calming, harmonious hues. Sadness, grief and emotional upheaval have resulted in the most vibrant and often contrasting colour schemes. The light house is another recurring theme at such times. A reason why I have returned to bright primary colours in my most recent paintings?

The woodland scene was completed today. I am hoping it will be dry enough to be included in the exhibition.

Thank you for reading my blogs and looking at my paintings. I hope you have a chance to visit our Open Studios. There will be a warm welcome wherever you decide to visit.

Siv MacArthur, Venus 10
Submitted by Siv MacArthur on 8th April 2022

Submitted by Siv MacArthur on 8 April 2022

Siv MacArthur venue10

Submitted by Siv MacArthur on 8 April 2022

I am looking forward to my 11th time as a member of our Open Studio event on 30th of April to 2nd of May. I have never felt anxious about expressing myself on paper or canvass however, showing my paintings to others was daunting and made me feel vulnerable so joining North Fife Open Studios those years ago felt like a big step but what a good decision that was. These annual events has given me lots visitors, some have become regulars and opportunities to exhibit in Galleries, arrange workshops and above all it has boosted my confidence. If you have been thinking about joining this group and meet the criteria don’t hesitate. You’ll find a group of friendly and supportive artist and many equally kind and interested visitors.

Over the past years I have been showing water colours, acrylics, mixed media, collage and a few Lino cut prints. Last autumn I decided to tackle oil paints. I use the paint directly out of the tube, no additional oils or thinners, only palette knives and other wipeable items, such as sticks and and wooden skewers. I ruled out brushes and mixers partly because the odour of the additives are often strong and also because I am not that good at cleaning brushes. I enjoy the faint smell of linseed oil from the paint, their creaminess and mix ability. Palette knives are versatile, and it is possible to get variety of marks once you get to used to them. Here are some of my new paintings in oil.

I will post a new blog in a couple of days.

Katy McKidd Stevenson
Submitted by Katy McKidd Stevenson on 30th March 2022
  • Katy and Four Red Clouds
  • Summer Skin
  • Katy Cloud
  • detail of unfinished self portrait
  • Summer Skin Poppies and Feet
  • acrylic studies - blue ribbons
  • they love my oestrogen
  • ink self portrait

Hello! As some of you may know, I am a portrait painter and I also make narrative based art, most recently focusing on my own body and the condition I have, Lipo-lymphedema. This causes large fat cells to build up in response to female hormones, and then extra fluid gets trapped in the body. I have chosen to be very truthful and open in my recent self-portraits, exploring the textures and colours of my skin and flesh, and looking for some painterly beauty. The last few works have been looking at my enlarged arms in particular, and there is now a twist in the tale, as a month ago I had surgery to reduce them – so they are now very slim indeed! I do plan to make some more work reflecting this new development, and in time plan for more surgery on other affected parts of my body. It is quite a strange feeling to be in the middle of this story, as I am planning changes to my body and documenting it as I go – I am almost repainting my real body and the portraits – and am starting to feel like the chicken and the egg! The ribbons represent the stitches in my previous abdominal surgery.
I have been taking part in Open Studios for quite a few years, and love inviting visitors in and hearing their comments about my work – a lot of my work is quite large, and is worth seeing in real life, and I think there is something special about seeing work in the space it was created. I have a few different rooms and areas, where my work is grouped together chronologically, so each space has it’s own themes and subject matter, and I am always happy to explain what I was thinking about as I made each body of work. Do come along!  As well as paintings, I also have drawings and prints for sale.

Moyra Stewart contributor to new book : “Contemporary Raku”
Submitted by Moyra Stewart on 28th March 2022
  • Naked Raku Vase by Moyra Stewart
  • By the Sea Vessels in naked raku by Moyra Stewart
  • “Contemporary Raku” by Stephen Murfitt
  • Naked Raku Vessels by Moyra Stewart

I have just participated in a group “Raku” exhibition at the Contemporary Ceramics Centre in London. This exhibition celebrated the publishing of a new book on raku by Stephen Murfitt.
“Contemporary Raku” features the work of the UK’s best raku artists and I was delighted and honoured to be asked to contribute.
This book is a great resource for everybody interested in the process of Raku, with lots of information on the process techniques, and hints and tips from the individual artists. We talk about what inspires us and give insights into how we get the special effects.

At the exhibition I exhibited some of the new shapes and surfaces I have been developing recently.

I do hope you will come by my studio at open studios and take a look, at venue 37 just outside Auchtermuchty.

Lindsay Mathers - residency
Submitted by Lindsay Mathers on 24th March 2022
  • Calm loch
  • Stepping stones
  • Drawing and sketching
  • Moody skies over Loch Ness
  • Sketch of path
  • Sun shining through gaps in trees
  • Sky reflected in puddles
  • Trees
  • Sketch of path through trees
  • Painting sketch of sun on water

This is my last post on the OSNF blog for this year.

I was going to talk about my recent residency in the Highlands but i don't want to fill up this blog with too much writing. You can find out all about my residency via my Instagram account @Mathersart

But suffice to say it was amazing. Especially as a mother, prioritising my work is hard, so to have 10 days all to myself and my art was everything.

I watched so many art documentaries, listened to podcasts about art, read about nature, walked for hours - up hills, around lochs, got lost in forests... And drew and painted.
I think when I need to go to my happy place I will be going right back there in my head!

If you would like to see more of my work produced as a result of this, visit my studio during Open Studios and if you'd like to follow my progress or get in touch, you can find me here:

I am currently exhibiting at the Borders Art Fair, 24 - 26th March in the 30 x 30 exhibition with SSA and also at Art and Vintage in Edinburgh.

The images in this post are from my residency - a mix of inspirational images and images of sketches and work made while I was there.

2021 work
Submitted by Lindsay Mathers on 23rd March 2022
  • Ripples in a sea with stormy skies approaching
  • Night sky over calm sea
  • Graphite drawing of wave
  • Graphite and mixed media drawing of a wave pattern

Some images of my work from 2021 and before
The sea definitely dominated!
How could it not?

Lindsay Mathers venue 20 Tayport
Submitted by Lindsay Mathers on 23rd March 2022

My name is Lindsay Mathers. I am taking over the OSNF 2022 blog for the next few days.

You may have visited my studio last year but if not here is a wee bit about me and my work.

I love being out in nature, especially in the sea, or up a hill, or in a forest, or …. You get the idea.

In my work I try to grasp that feeling that I get when I'm out on a paddle board, or lost amongst trees, or halfway up a hill - feeling insignificant, at the mercy of nature, yet being intrinsically connected to it at the same time. Being overwhelmed by it all but embracing every moment.

I’ve just returned from a residency in the Highlands - but more on that tomorrow. For now, here are some examples of my work.

Welcome to the North Fife Open Studios blog!
Submitted by Jenni Gudgeon on 15th August 2021

This is a platform for our members to tell you a little more about themselves than can be fitted into a 350 characters website description.

Every few days a different participant will upload a post. These will be shared on our Facebook page and our virtual Facebook event group page

Please follow us, so you see every blog post and learn more about our members.