It's been a week since I returned from my time in Scotland and right now I have so many thoughts wandering around in my head. Two planes, 12 hours of travel, and here I am back in the country I grew up in. The flight itself was uneventful, no more interesting than any other, but the difficult part was leaving Scotland.
While I was in the Glenfiddich AIR Program I lived in a cottage on the distillery grounds for 4 months. It was an amazing experience and an important time for me, both on a creative and personal level. As some of you may know the project I worked on was a series of on-the-spot drawings that document the distillery and whisky making process. I’d take my red jacket, high visibility vest, board, paper, and charcoal pencils with me to draw the people and buildings around me. Shortly after I started, I became a fixture at the distillery with workers telling me “I always see you out drawing”. Through my daily routine they became interested in what I was doing and in turn I was interested in what they were doing. I felt privileged to have access to the locations on site and did my best to make the most of it.
My fellow artists in the program were from all over the world: India, Korea, China, Canada, London, and Taiwan. As a group we’d go to the weekly ceilidh (Scottish Dance), get together for a campfire, and have BBQ’s from time to time. We also took trips to other areas in Scotland such as Loch Ness and Gairloch. It was a great experience meeting each one of them and along the way I learned a bit about both their artwork and the individual cultures they came from. I tried to impart a bit of Americana, but apparently made a mediocre batch of potato salad. I'll have to work on that.
Aside from my regular routine I also created an exhibition poster for the Glenfiddich gallery and did a drawing on the top of a whisky cask. I had never drawn on a cask before and it was a great challenge. The poster was displayed outside the gallery, used in email promos, appeared in newspaper and magazine ads, and in all the local shops. I had fun working on both projects.
Now that I’m back in the United States that doesn’t mean my project ends here. I plan on making a book of my drawings and will continue working on the layout, color, and printing. Creating a book has been something I’ve wanted to do for a long time and I’m excited to work on it further.
Scotland, and more specifically Glenfiddich, is a special place for me as I’ve met so many wonderful people during my time there. Whisky will no longer be the same because it now has a human element behind it. I know the people who filled the bottles, made the spirit, gave the tours, etc. The connections I’ve made will continue with me far beyond the four months I spent at Glenfiddich. It’s an amazing place, a great program, and a unique experience that I’ll always remember.