Members' Blog

Lockdown Art, 2020 - 2021
Submitted by Andrea McMillan on 14th September 2021

Lockdown Art: 2020 – 2021
In March 2020, all my colleagues and I were sent home from our work in Cupar library, to start the strangest period of our lives. I had been getting ready for Open Studios North Fife, planned for May, and suddenly found myself with far more time to sew, but nothing to sew for. I set up my work-from-home office in my studio, and wondered what to do next.
My first piece was rather a joke. I had made some small framed versions of “Circles”, a Kandinsky-inspired work. It suddenly occurred to me that they were far too close together, so I made a new one, “Circles at a (Social) Distance”, to go with the renamed “Circles behaving Irresponsibly”.

My first Lockdown series: “Travel Without Leaving Home”, consisted of six pieces inspired by photos taken in Scotland, America and Australia. This took me up to September 2020, but Lockdown didn't finish there, and neither did I. I moved on to a new theme - based on photos taken during my exercise walks. I'm calling this series "Views from Home", and the first piece comes from my fervent desire for coffee!

Views from Home One - Over the Howe and Far away.
I live in Auchtermuchty and there is a community shop in the next village, Dunshalt, that does a great take-away latte. I got into the habit of walking over once a week, across the fields and back along the road. That's about 3 miles and I felt I earned my coffee and cake. There are great views over the Howe of Fife towards the Lomond Hills, and I took a photo in October 2020 of waterlogged fields.
This is the result; the three birds are Pink-Footed Geese which we see in their multitudes at this time of year. The water on the field is a stitched sheer fabric.

Views from Home Two - Winter on Birnie Loch
One of my favourite walks is around Birnie and Gaddon Lochs, near Collessie. They are nature reserves, full of birds, animals and plants, and I love watching the changing seasons reflected in the surroundings. Early in January this year (2021), the lochs had frozen over and it made a magical scene.
Much of my work features water - seas, oceans, lakes and even flooded fields, but I had never tried to stitch ice. I used layers of sheer fabrics and silks to give it a shiny look. The background trees are all stitched, as is the grass/reeds.
There are two swan families here, one on each loch. They are so graceful on the water, but look a bit strange on land, or ice. I took a photo of one on a previous cold day, and it seemed appropriate to use it for my signature bird in this piece.

Views from Home Three - Pylons in the Mist
My go-to walk from my house is over Auchtermuchty Common and back. It's two miles, uphill on the way out, and a downhill stroll home.
I've seen the countryside in all seasons and all weathers. The inspiration for this piece was a photo I took on a very foggy day in November 2020, with mist filling the valley. Appearing out of the mist, and striding off into the distance, were these pylons. They looked like alien machines, something from Mars perhaps. The colour palate of this is very restricted, all blues. It's not my usual style, and I had to resist the urge to add in a complementary colour, but I achieved the effect I was looking for - almost Impressionist.
The signature stitched bird is here, although sometimes I think it's really a far-away dragon!

Views From Home Four - Fields of Yellow
A longer walk, when I have a free day, is a continuation of the one above. I carry on over the common; along the burn; up a steep slope into Pitmedden Forest; out at The Clink and down the narrow road back into Auchtermuchty and home. It's about 4 miles, with enough gradient to make me feel I've had a good walk. The source photo for this piece was taken in May 2021, looking west from the forest. I know oilseed rape is not to everyone's taste, but I love the way it brightens up the countryside. The old drystane dyke in the foreground is so full of texture, I knew it would be an interesting challenge to recreate in fabric and stitch.
One of the things I enjoy is transforming a flat surface into one that looks 3D. In this piece I've used the tractor lines to trick the eye into seeing folds and dips in the field.
There are about fourteen different colours of thread in this work, half of those in the dyke alone.
I often see buzzards while I'm walking - I hear the cry first and then search the sky for one or more birds. One has made an appearance here, silhouetted against the blue sky.

Views From Home Five - Thistle in the Barley
This is my latest piece, a small framed picture of a thistle. I saw it growing next to a field of barley on one of my walks. The quilting on the background fabric is based on a barley awn motif. It feels slightly cliched, but I have made sure the thistle is suitably jaggy.

Portrait of an NHS hero
Submitted by Jaclyn Stuart on 13th September 2021

During lockdown last year, I took part in a great scheme created by artist Tom Croft, to boost the morale of NHS workers. I wanted to share a blog post that I wrote during this time. I feel it is still relevant today to remember NHS workers and to give them a nod or clap of thanks and also it will introduce you to my portrait painting which I love to do.
Tom Croft painted a portrait for the first NHS worker who contacted him. The scheme has now grown arms and legs with thousands of artists all over the United Kingdom taking part. I posted a simple message on my social media asking for the first NHS worker to get in touch if they wanted a free portrait. Needless to say, it did not take long for a response before I was matched with a wonderful woman from Edinburgh. I was secretly hoping for someone with an inspiring story as it always makes me enjoy painting the portrait even more when I can connect with the sitter, rather than just painting a likeness. I was not dissapointed.
Meet Claire Gray, a mum of 3 wonderful children, all under the age of 10, one son who is autistic and 2 daughters. She has recently separated from her husband and works 3 days a week as an Occupational Therapist. She is a team leader for the occupational therapist community mental health team at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital. I know what you are thinking already! What a woman! and how does she manage to do all that while looking after 3 kids? I had the same reaction. Claire was nominated by her very good friend who felt she needed some encouragement and morale boosting and I was happy to try and provide that.
We met via what’s app and chatted freely for a while, so that I can get to know her a bit and observe how she looks and the way her face moves. I tried to do the latter part without being too obvious but I think Claire was on to me. We chatted about her work and her home life, which fascinated me. As I have said she is an Occupational Therapist and leads the community mental health team in Edinburgh. This involves visiting people’s homes and helping them live effectively and as independently as possible, with their diagnosis. Most of Claire’s patients are elderly, live on their own and have dementia. Claire and her team also help adults with other mental health diagnosis like schizophrenia and depression. As you can imagine, a patient with dementia, on lockdown, with social distancing and not being allowed out as freely as once before, can prove a very difficult task. Claire said that by putting up simple notes with instructions can help ensure they stay safe. A major part of Claire’s job is assessing how memory loss has affected the patients day to day activities, such as making a cup of tea, writing, cooking and their ability to remember appointments. Claire will often have the patient make her a cup of tea to see how well they do. I thought this would be a great idea for the painting. Claire having a simple cup of tea, it shows the social aspect of Claire’s job while also showing one of the major tasks she helps her patient perform. Sadly during lockdown she can no longer sit down and have a cup of tea and chat away to her patients. I showed this by painting Claire wearing protective gloves symbolising the barrier between her and her patients.
Claire’s job has changed a lot during lockdown. She has to ask patients to wait for her while she changes into her protective apron and gloves and this can be confusing for the them. Dementia patients often have large calendars and many post it notes to remind them of tasks. Claire can provide them with special calendars made specifically for dementia patients. I thought it would be great to add a calendar into the background as to me they symbolise every day life. It contains memories and helps us remember future events. It is a vital piece of kit for her patients. Adding the moto, “stay home, protect the NHS, save lives” also adds a reminder and signifies the times we are in. If you look closely you will see a tiny forget me not ,which is the logo for Dementia awareness charity . I thought that would add a nice wee touch.
I chatted to Claire yersteday evening and showed her the painting and I am glad to say she was thrilled with it and I quote, “ oh my word, I absolutely love it. The calendar is genius and the detail on the gloves, my hair. Honestly really really love it. I’m a bit speechless and teary actually! In a good way.”
I couldn’t ask for a better reaction. I think I can safely say that her morale has been boosted.

The Joy of Creating
Submitted by Jaclyn Stuart on 12th September 2021

I was reminded last night of when I was a child. I loved hiding in my bedroom with some kind of craft or art material, just creating and exploring the materials. I tried calligraphy, jewellery making with my dads solder iron, baking, cutting and glueing. I even made velvet hats that I sold to my friends at primary school. It seems I was entrepreneur even back then. Nothing else mattered, I was so engrossed in the process of creating. There is nothing like the buzz of making something from scratch or creating a new idea and seeing it come to life.
My son tonight asked if he could have a special place like my art studio to draw. So we cleared a space for him with his own paper and one of my old tool boxes filled with art materials. It is set up right next door to my studio space ( the spare room). It feels great. He said that we are like creative neighbours now. He now is experiencing that same joy. Sometimes creating art is a lonely business. Gone are the days of art school when you were constantly motivated by other students creative energy. Well now I have my creative buddy to help with that. While I type this he is sitting doing his stick men that he so loves and inventing his next comic book.
Art is now how I make my living, it is sometimes hard to keep that innocent joy of creating. When you are thinking about selling artwork, it can be hard not to be trapped by the thoughts of having to sell it and creating what you think people want to see. I have actually found that these thoughts are counter productive. They don’t help you in any way. People want the authentic in what you make, it is your voice and your original story and expression that attracts people to your work. It is true that not all people will like it, some people may even hate it but retaining the joy of creating is paramount in creating authentic art work.
So later after I finish this post, I am going to play and have some fun, I may make a mess and it might end up in the bin but maybe just maybe, out of this fun a master piece may be born.

Knowing me, knowing you
Submitted by Jaclyn Stuart on 11th September 2021

Good evening! I thought I would start my blog take over with a wee background story to who I am and why I create. My name is Jaclyn Stuart and I am an artist living in a tiny village called Brunton. I have been creating art ever since I can remember, always making something in my bedroom as a kid ( my mum would say “making a mess”) or finding my Dads tools, soldering pieces of metal together or trying to make a bird table. I have always had a creative inquisitiveness and this led me to apply to Grays school of art in Aberdeen, where in 2000 I completed a BA Honours in Fine Art. What does one do with an art degree? No one really tells you and so I have made my own way along the creative road as the years have gone on. When we left Aberdeen to move to Fife, I went to work in Further education as a lecturer in Art and Design. I worked at Elmwood and Adam Smith college helping students create portfolios to enter into art school. A familiar path, that I had once taken.
When I became pregnant I resigned from Adam Smith and focused on Elmwood as it was closer to home. Sadly in 2011, Elmwood college decided to close the art department and my colleagues and I were made redundant. Always the creative, I put my thinking cap on and started my own teaching business in St Andrews, developing courses based on the NC and HNC that I taught at Elmwood. I called it Eden Art. It is now in its 10th year and still going strong. I feel very blessed. My other colleagues from Elwood also started their own ventures, all of which have been successful. So it definitely helps to be a creative thinker and creatively think your way out of unemployment. Since leaving art school I have had a steady stream of people who have enjoyed my own artwork and have bought pieces to have in their homes. It is the best feeling when someone else appreciates your artwork other than yourself. I love to create art with a spiritual edge to it. I think art can help to connect our everyday world with the divine, unseen world and help us experience something greater than ourselves. So I love to explore topics such as meaning, identity, purpose and the fragility of life using colour, atmosphere and symbols to communicate these thoughts. I would love to see you all at my studio in October and get to know you too. You can see my artwork up close and I may even have some hot chocolate for you all.
I look forward to seeing you all at my Studio in Brunton, Fife on October 23rd and 24th.

Molly Bullick. Multi media
Submitted by Molly Bullick on 11th September 2021

Molly Bullick. Multi media

This year I am back in my home studio in Letham which although it is small, I hope can accommodate a few visitors at a time but I will keep the doors and windows open.

For many years I have exhibited nationally and internationally from Painting, Printmaking , Jewellery, and laterally textile art to coming full circle and starting to investigate ink , graphite and paint. I have been lucky enough to have received awards at home and abroad.

During lockdown I started doing a lot of small stitched pieces rather than any big wall hung textiles. Dyeing in the studio has become less important and more tiring. I have moved away from making scarves principally because I had amassed quite a few due to Open Studios 2020 being cancelled. Consequently this year will probably be the last year I shall be selling scarves and shawls so there may be some discounts on offer! I did enjoy using natural dyes, especially indigo and the quiet meditative art of Shibori stitching but it’s time to move on. One always must have surprises.
My small stitched pieces have become a lead in to abstract thinking and drawing although often the thoughts are sparked by poetry. As lockdown progressed I investigated online opportunities including the BBC series Culture in Lockdown which led me to create palimpsests which then became a series referencing poetry of Pablo Neruda. These have been made into a book which has just arrived from the printers today. I shall have the original artworks and the book in my Studio for the October opening.

I shall do my best to display all the hand dyed shawls as well as stitched work and of course the art works relating to the book.

www.mollybullick.co.uk
@mollybullick123

experiments and exploration
Submitted by Bun Mitchell on 7th September 2021

Over lockdown I spent a lot of time doing courses online. It was a way for me to get to grips with new technology as a participant and become comfortable with it as I had to use it in my work as an Art Therapist. I also had access to courses which I wouldn't have been able to do normally. As a result my work has changed and I've become more confidant about showing my work online.

My work has always focused on the process rather than the outcome. I enjoy pushing the boundaries and challenging myself with different experiences. Over the last 18 months being outside in nature has been very important to me as it has for many people. This has influenced my fabric work and I love working outside when I can.
I use natural colours from foraged plants or my tiny garden to dye threads and fleece as well as recycled and found fabrics. Mindful stitching has become a big part of my work and a way to help me unwind (no pun intended!) and re-centre myself.
As always felt-making has been a big part of the work I do but I use fleece as a 'glue' to bond other fabrics and to change the texture of the fibres so that the experience of touching them can be surprising.

As I experiment a lot I end up with many pieces in different stages. These are stored and then found again (often when I'm looking for something else!) and often become part of something; a bigger piece, creating a collage of textures and colour. I am less precious about cutting things up, re-arranging them and incorporating fabrics which have a history to make a new story with them.

I make botanical inks to play with on paper in a more free form way with water and other liquids. I like that I have to work more slowly, building up layers after leaving them to dry or using wet cyanotype on top. Sometimes I use this technique on fabric which then is applied to a background or felted to change the pattern again.
Found patterns and textures in nature are photographed through all the seasons and even damp stains on fabric make interesting patterns when I discovered a leak!

Pebbles, rocks and boulders
Submitted by Moyra Stewart on 4th September 2021
  • Naked raku pebbles by Moyra Stewart
  • Naked Raku boulders by Moyra Stewart

I’m one of those people who comes back from the beach with pockets full of pebbles. It’s been a lifelong passion of mine. Then I started making my own “pebbles “ in Naked Raku. I thought it was a ridiculous thing to do at the time but I have now been making them for more than ten years and I’m still not bored with making them …and having interesting conversations with the people who buy them. It turns out there are a lot of people who are just like me : they love finding pebbles, are interested in rocks and love talking about it. My pebbles are all made by hand and fired by hand from the very smallest right up to the big boulders that are so challenging to get in and out of a hot kiln. I love it that they are all completely unique and no two ever come out the same. For more information about my firing process and the different aspects of my work please visit my website at : www.moyrastewart.com or follow me on Instagram @moyrastewartsculptor. Please come and visit me at Openstudiosfife to experience my lovely pebbles, they feel so soft and tactile….

Why I love opening my studio
Submitted by Moyra Stewart on 3rd September 2021
  • Naked raku firing
  • By the sea naked raku vessel
  • Lewisian Gneiss Urn naked raku

My name is Moyra Stewart and I’ve been exhibiting at Open Studios for ten years now. I work in clay using a process called Naked Raku which is an unusual and demanding process. It’s always nice to talk to people directly about my work and explain that process, but I find it much more exciting to have visitors in my own working environment : I can show my recent experiments and talk about new work in a way that is very different from doing fairs or exhibitions, somehow it’s a much more personal encounter. I also do demonstrations when the weather is good and for so many people, actually witnessing a raku firing really helps them understand what is involved. You can find out more about it and watch the videos on my website : moyrastewartsculptor.com or see what I’m up to by following me on Instagram @moyrastewartsculptor
I have worked in clay for more than 45 years : it soothes my soul. In the human world where I have always felt like an outsider, my relationship with Nature is where I feel truly at home. Throughout my life I have found solace and comfort in wild places, retreating to forests, mountains, and beaches when daily life becomes overwhelming. After many years of living in cities I now live in rural Fife, I look out at The Lomonds : an ancient volcanic plug beautifully eroded over millennia, I walk daily in Pitmedden forest five minutes away, we have stunning beaches within a half hour drive, and the amazing Tay river estuary is close by, every day I count my blessings.
In response to the challenges of life I make things that echo this natural world that teaches me so much and where I find peace. I want my work to feel as though it too could be part of nature, springing from the ground or as old as the hills. So I work organically using my hands and the simplest of tools, I deliberately do not make perfectly round things, preferring mostly oval shapes that are not perfectly symmetrical……….

Skin
Submitted by Katy McKidd Stevenson on 30th August 2021
  • detail
  • emma
  • rachel detail
  • skin

I have always been fascinated by skin, and recently the appearance of Lipoedema skin and flesh - skin has so many textures, freckles, lines, wrinkles, stretch marks, moles, hair and the weight of the skin and flesh - my body has areas which hang heavily and areas which are light and dimpled or almost frilly with skin finer than tissue paper. There is also the depth, the translucence showing veins and capillaries beneath and the multitude of colours (I have to admit I don't like portraits where the skin is all the same colour but different tones!) I have been studying these effects through paint, and then of course the paint has all it's own stuff going on! Through these sorts of observations I hope to find beauty where others wouldn't :)

Katy McKidd Stevenson
Submitted by Katy McKidd Stevenson on 29th August 2021
  • katy cloud
  • summer skin poppies and feet
  • self care nurse detail

Hi!

I am an artist and art teacher who lives and works in Foodieash, near Cupar in NE Fife. I left my secondary school post two years ago, and started teaching adult classes and workshops, but that has been very quiet since the you-know-what! I also run an arty Airbnb in Freuchie.

I paint portraits, many of family, pupils (when I was still teaching in school) and commissions. I love drawing and painting faces and figures and have been doing it since I was very small. I also love being creative with ideas and stories, and building up moods and mysteries - often the ideas are a mystery to me too, which I love, and I gradually realise much later what it was all about!

Paintings I had been working on for years centred around a web of stories about girls being invaded by wasps and wasps' nests, inspired by a bird box in our garden being taken over by one - I had a real fascination with it as it poked out of the hole and gradually spread around the entrance each day - it all felt like a message, especially when one day in the garden a wasp landed on a headline in my newspaper - 'he was special' - right on the 'was sp' section! It seemed like a message and it kindly waited while I ran to get my camera.

I also had a fascination with sugar and sleep and wasps, which all tied up poetically in my mind - later I realised that the sugar and sleep resonated because of my diabetes, and the wasps nests because of the cellular structure invading the girl's bodies - like my condition Lipoedema, where fat cells grow and invade many parts of women's bodies, fuelled by oestrogen - it all made sense.

I started wondering whether my art should be less fairytale and more real - and so for the last few years I have painted self-portraits, trying to be brave and show the truth of Lipoedema, and trying to find some beauty in it's depiction in paint. I still want quirky touches, so a self-portrait of me with blue ribbons around my apronectomy scar line represents the blue stitches of that surgery.

I have pushed myself to go beyond 'pretty' pictures, so have some very gritty images of things that went wrong after that surgery, as well as others showing my body naked, sagging, stretched, pulled and swollen - and plan to make a group portrait of other women with the same conditions.

I love art and art materials, pencils, chalks, inks and oil and acrylic paints, and have also dabbled with print and mixed-media - I think of myself as quite an abstract artist when I get down to the nitty gritty - colours and textures and paint form a different world up close. I am still as excited about making art as I was when I was a wee girl drawing with my sister Roo. From my grandparents, my mother, artist Elizabeth Shepherd RSA, who met my father Robin McKidd at art college, to my artistic and musical children, it runs in the blood.

I have lots of exciting creative possibilities in my mind for the future, and I am very pleased to have more time to be able to try and realise them - and look forward to more mysteries and surprises along the way.

Happy to be here!
Submitted by Yvonne Magee on 27th August 2021

Hi, I’m Yvonne Magee. I'm an American and I've lived in St Andrews for over 15 years. This will be my third OSNF year, and it's great being a part of it.

I love the world of art, and have had a lifetime of experience in America and Scotland as an art teacher, incorporating art as a therapist and workshop leader, and as a practicing artist. Six years ago, I began to paint abstract expressionist works. My brushes have stayed wet ever since. This was a new and exciting chapter for me. While still based in my St Andrews studio, in the last two years, I've established a second 'hideaway' studio overlooking the sea in Northern Ireland, where I allow myself to paint freely, undisturbed and with absolute joy.

For me, painting is an adventure, and always an exploration into uncharted territory. I have learned that my best work comes from experiences in the natural world - the easiest place to come across feelings of exaltation, transcendence, oneness with all life. My desire is to get ‘behind’ the tangible, to the world of energy and ‘presence’. That is what I want to express, and what I am reaching for when I paint. Colour is central. My paintings are colour-driven, and whilst I paint for my own fulfilment, I have found that the connection made by the paintings with those who enjoy them is often unexpected and enriching.

Each painting becomes a conversation, first between me and the painting as it evolves. I try to stay open-minded to get a feel for what the painting needs, as it progresses from the initial totally free-flowing playful stage. It is something of a meditative approach to be attentive in this way. When I manage it, the painting flows easily, and I am often surprised by its direction and its resolution.

The next conversation is between the finished painting and its viewer. This completes the energy circuit. I believe this exchange of energy is why the great master painters have reached through centuries to deeply touch us as viewers. The arts describe and embrace the direction of the cultures they are immersed in. So, in my small way, I am describing and embracing the beautiful natural world I find myself in, whether I am relating to a mountain, a single blossom, a sunny afternoon, or simply a feeling of being fully alive.

Different paintings reach different viewers. I once attended a Per Kirkeby exhibition in London, which was electrifying for me. The large paintings gave me a great jolt of energy, almost like being at a rock concert. The friend who was with me was not affected in the same way. She felt the paintings were ‘nice’, but they didn’t do much for her. This is why it’s so important to observe paintings ‘in the flesh’.

Come along to open studios - an adventure with living art. You never know what will reach out and touch you. You are warmly invited to drop by, have a cup of tea or coffee, simply wander around silently, or have a conversation. I’m always available and love to talk about art!

You can find my website at www.yvonnemagee.com.

A little bit about me and my process
Submitted by Jenni Gudgeon on 25th August 2021
  • Blue haired woman in glasses reading a book among some bluebells

Hi, I’m Jenni Gudgeon, and I’m a photographic artist who creates pictures by etching (scraping) designs into the top layers of my photographs. There is no ink or paint used in my pictures, because all the colours lie underneath the surface in the layers of photographic emulsion. You can see a video, and learn more at https://jennigudgeon.co.uk/?page_id=466

I’ve been a member of Open Studios North Fife since the first event in 2007and am now very privileged to be chair of the committee of this amazing event.

Open studios is also responsible for my career taking a very unexpected turn in 2013, when I exhibited a couple of mythical creatures etched into old photos taken on Falkland Estate. While etching them, I made up silly stories about the creatures and mentioned these to visitors. Many people told me that these would make a great book, but I said it wouldn’t happen because I couldn’t write for toffee. One person told me sternly that I could do anything.

Three days later I awoke with the first line in my head and realised with horror that I was writing a book!

After many fits and starts and a huge learning curve, Folkland Fables was published in 2018 about the mythical creatures who live in Falkland Woods. (Folkland is the ancient name for Falkland and literally means the land of the fairy folk.)

Right now, I’m working on my second book about the creatures who live off the coast of Scotland. The last picture I etched was a boobrie. A hilariously named creature whose name never fails to bring a smile to my face (I have an eight year old’s sense of humour.) Boobries can turn themselves into bulls or horses, but for some reason are mostly seen as gigantic, cormorant-like birds, with a 17 inch beak and 3 foot long neck like a heron.

The first book I remember reading was about an elephant trying his hardest to look after a tiny world no one else believed in. This has given me a lifelong fascination with the idea of worlds within worlds, and my art reveals these hidden communities that lie just out of sight.
By etching into photographs, I like to think I combine the everyday world, as picked up by my camera, with the fantastical world of the human imagination.

I have no such thing as a typical day because my work revolves around three very different skills (photography, writing, and drawing/etching). I do whichever is necessary on that particular day and love each one, so would hate to have to give up any one of them. Each process reflects a different part of my personality.

When I started etching into photographs, I instantly knew that this was the process I wanted to perfect. Scratching into photographs and negatives is commonplace, but I don’t know anyone else who uses the same technique as me to etch into the layers of emulsion.

I’m a bit of a magpie, and when I uncover the gold colour from under a photo’s surface, I always get a tingle of excitement. Unfortunately, digital images and prints never do justice to the gold in the originals.

Exhibiting at Open Studios has done huge amounts to my confidence as an artist over the years, and I get such a buzz from the people who visit my studio. It has helped me know where I’m going right in my art, and more importantly, it helps me focus on where I’m going wrong.
I love the rush to get everything ready for visitors in my studio and garden and the supportive chat between the artists as we have our last minute panics.

I look forward to welcoming you to my log cabin studio at the end of my garden in October, and you can see more of my work at https://jennigudgeon.co.uk/

A Year in the Life of a Lockdown Artist
Submitted by Phyllis Fenton FentonARTworks on 20th August 2021
  • Phyllis Fenton Exhibition Spaces
  • Phyllis Fenton Exhibition Spaces

Hi, I'm Phyllis, a Fife artist who hasn’t really written a blog before. So here I am, in my baffies, drinking hot chocolate and composing some creative writing, while contemplating how much of my previous life might be of interest to you.

I have always loved drawing and painting and studied Graphic Design and Illustration in Dundee.
I am particularly fond of my analytical flower and plant studies.
While bringing up my kids I worked part-time and carried out regular freelance commissions, designing and illustrating health promotional material and educational resources.
A desire to paint, resulted in “Studio Gallery” rising from the dining room of the old Newport Hotel, where I further developed my skills and opened my doors to the public, hosting several exhibitions and demonstrations.
The sale of the building redirected my energies into running art classes and workshops while also working in therapy within the Health and Social Care setting.
In our spare time, my partner Dougie and I spent much time walking Scotland, painting mountains, landscapes and natural subject matter. I like to sketch in ink, pencil and watercolour. These sketches, photographs and memories are used as reference, mixed with a dollop of artistic licence, and converted into acrylic and oil paintings when back in the studio.

I am fascinated by the rugged geology of the East Neuk landscape and during our wanderings, the obvious, rapidly increasing erosion of our coastlines and the blatant disregard for our environment has been both shocking and disturbing to me. A wasteful throwaway society has resulted in beautiful, secluded areas being turned into dumping grounds while we continue polluting our waters and killing our wildlife.
We can make, or break this world we live in and this narrative often underpins the psychology behind my work, many people voice the opinion that my paintings are beautiful, mesmerising and thought provoking. Looking closer, it is not always the painting, but often the subject matter which portrays the real beauty and poignancy in art.
My “Naturally Abstract” series zones in on the wood, not just the trees and encourages all of us to take a second look at the world around us, to take in and really appreciate what we so often take for granted.
And so we reach the present, I chose to retire from employment in January 2020 to focus on my passion, painting.
Just in time for the start of Covid - 19 lockdown!
Galleries, cafes, libraries and public spaces were all closed. My usual exhibition venues such as The Meffan Museum and Art Gallery and the University of Dundee Botanic Gardens were no longer open for business.
I had more time to paint but nowhere to show my work. An online presence had become essential and FentonARTworks.wordpress.com was hesitantly created.
Although technology is a wonderful thing, I still feel that the best way to view artwork is in its physical, tangible format rather than via a computer screen.

I have always spent a lot of time painting and sketching landscape in situ and have gained much from doing so, including feedback from curious members of the public who would often watch my efforts for considerable periods of time.
The consequences of the virus had resulted in a 5 mile travel restriction. I was no longer able to go to my favourite haunts along the Fife coast for inspiration. I was no longer able to interact with my audience. Instead, I built a beach in the back garden and we moved into our ‘cabin’ for a painting holiday. With eight bags of sand, pebbles, shells, and a large paddling pool, it was just like the real thing (well nearly). The cabin is my 8ft x8ft garden studio, (commonly known as the outhouse). We built a pull-out double bed, set up the BBQ and locked ourselves out of the house.

A gazebo and some step ladders created an outdoor studio and exhibition space in our front garden, where passing members of the public could view my completed projects and live painting performances from the safety of the pavement during their daily walks.
Non-essential shops were closed so I also rented a window space in Newport High Street allowing me to show my work and advertise my website.
Unfortunately, this was only a temporary arrangement, so we built my Little Garden Gallery (otherwise known as a lean-to greenhouse) to provide a secure sheltered display area at home. Pondering this space from the "sit-oottery", led to a lovely and interesting conversation with local artist Morag Muir whose positivity and enthusiasm encouraged me to apply for the 2021 Open Studios. “Nothing ventured, nothing gained,”

I have since, been fortunate enough to be given the use of an exhibition space at the Gauldry Arms and also a secondary studio and gallery space at the Rio Community Centre.

I look forward to welcoming you and hope you enjoy your visit to My Little Garden Gallery and Studio Space on Station Brae in Newport on Tay.

A Bit about Process by Alison Philp
Submitted by Alison Philp on 20th August 2021

The processes that go into making art are very important to me. I like to follow my intuition which means using a variety of materials and creative approaches to different subjects. I spend a lot of time playing and trying things out. My studio space can become a somewhat haphazard collection of different mediums and reading materials that I use to keep myself exploring and inspired.
Sketchbooks are particularly important sites for trying things out; their relative portability means I can take them out walking in the countryside or have them to hand during spare moments in the day.
The North Fife Open Studios event is a great opportunity to share some of the processes behind the finished drawings, paintings and artist's books with an audience.

A Few Words About My Practice by Alison Philp
Submitted by Alison Philp on 18th August 2021
  • Ladhar Beinn. Monoprint on paper, 2018.
  • Doodlings in the studio 2021.

I am a relatively new participant in the North Fife Open Studios having participated twice. The first time in 2019 was the usual physical event and then Covid sent the festival online in 2020.
Even before Covid arrived I had been considering how to change the focus of my drawings away from that of remote places (travelling was never easy for me because of family) to something closer to home.
Currently I have a room in the house to use as a studio space but for a long time the outdoors was the only real space I had to work in. I prefer to draw from life so being able to access natural spaces is crucial to my practice. Staying home I have particularly found inspiration in my growing garden. New drawings have mapped the visual outer world of trees, plants and flowers and have also experimented with some of the less tangible elements of sense of place.
I have always used gestural, free flowing mark-making to make work and have recently become more confident using colour and different media such as oil pastels.
I also write sometimes and text can find its way into work as part of an image, or alongside images within an artists book.
The Opens Studios is a chance to bring all my artworks together in one space and to share them with people in an informal environment.

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 https://facebook.com/OpenStudiosNorthFife and our virtual Facebook event group page https://facebook.com/groups/openstudiosnorthfife

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