Following his spell at the distillery last year, artist Jonathan Lloyd has started the business of depicting Bruichladdich through the medium of printmaking with wood blocks. [You can read about his original visit here.] Through the winter, he's been working on the raw sketches he made while on location with us. During a visit to his studio in Northumberland we asked him for more detail about the materials he's been using.
JL: "What do artists do all day?! Back at the studio I'll work on painted studies; acrylic on mountboard. I mostly use an acrylic matt medium mixed with raw pigment. I get a high pigment saturation at a fraction of the cost of using tubes.
"Often I'll trace a study and produce a second to work on so as not to destroy original ideas. This spawns copies of copies, several studies I'll work on simultaneously, scraps of tracing paper and mountboard covering surfaces everywhere. It's a messy archaic way of working that might go on for months before I find some sense of fluid order and articulation.
"It's difficult to say how much time it takes, but these pieces do have a long fermentation. The longest time by a mile is spent on these studies; months. That’s the most challenging bit.
"By the time I get to making and cutting of woodblocks the major decisions have been made so it's a job of work. I might spend a week or so doing this, take some proof prints and make adjustments to the blocks as necessary.
"I make blocks using ply or OSB as a base. I'll saw selected timber to about 6mm veneers and laminate this to the base giving me a stable block with a good cutting depth. When it comes to cutting the blocks I use widely available cheap tools for hand cutting, I just make sure they a very sharp. I'll also use machine tools such as circular saws.
"I'll use timbers that have particular qualities of grain that will print to advantage in the finished work. For instance in the Mash Tun there is a patch of cedar I used to describe the porridgy mash. I amplified the grain so it would print consistently by scarifying it with dry sand.
"When it comes to printing, the paper is one of the most influential decisions affecting the finished print. Increasingly I print by hand with Japanese papers rather than using a press.
"Inks are linseed oil based. In the Mash Tun the inks are a range of greys bracketed by viridian green and napthol red. A simple Payne's grey can be made with ultramarine and burnt sienna but more often than not these days I'll use a grey made from black and white and either warm it up with a bit of cadmium orange or cool it with blue. arylide yellow modified with yellow ochre is used as the only colour accent in the long view of the distillery.
"I maybe have 1/2 a dozen different studies still on the go. When I can see the light at the end of the tunnel I'll start dotting i's and crossing t's. That's when it all goes pear-shaped and all the weaknesses of a composition are cruelly exposed and it's back to the drawing board…"
Wishing Jonathan the best of luck with the ongoing prints, and with his bid to have some pieces be part of the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition, shortlist announced later this week.
Follow @jono.lloyd artist / printmaker on instagram >>