Oil Painting for Bissell Brothers

The label was inspired by Georgia O’Keefe and her feminine floral paintings, which we thought would fit the bill. 

Original oil painting

Every label tells a story…. Here’s the artist’s story

My art background….

As far as education goes I went to UMASS AMHERST for my BFA graduating in 2007, took a year off, and moved to NYC for my MFA at the New York Academy of Art in the Tribecca area of Manhattan. The masters program was an atelier style education with focus on painting the figure and studying anatomy. There I was awarded a residency in the LIA program in Leipzig, Germany to paint for a summer in the Spinnerai (an old spinning mill converted into art studios). While in NYC I bartended to pay my bills and worked in the craft beer scene as it was flourishing..

Fast forward 7 years or so I moved back to NH into the White Mountains and then to Portland, Maine. 

What inspires me as an artist

My grandmother was a painter and growing up with her paintings surrounding me, created the fantasy of being an artist. I have always felt like it was my calling and what I should spend my life doing. I was always interested in the figure, but more lately focused on color relationships, design sensibility and emotion in artwork. 

What do I hope visitors will feel when they see my artwork?

Well attending a figurative program and then rejecting the figure for landscape is a freeing feeling. I always thought that landscapes were the most boring of paintings, until I looked at Mark Rothko. The horizon line really is poetic to me. I feel the story of shadow, color relationship, and space is relatable to everyone. It allows a person to stare into the work of art and just be calm. Somehow that is what I would like people to feel when they look at my paintings. Calm, introspection, emotion.  When I work on Labels or other artwork for the brewery I tend not to think of its a “my” artwork. I try and think of the project in a way that has challenges that are different from my personal painting. Some label work tends to be more graphic, especially the works I draw with pen and ink, and are close to a theme for the beer. 

This particular piece…

This painting for “Something of Ourselves” is for a beer my coworker Leah Foti and I created together. At Bissell Brothers you can submit an idea for a beer to be made and along with it choose a charitable organization to highlight along with the beer. We chose Planned Parenthood as our charitable organization, as this beer was inspired by women’s rights and the right to choose! 

The label was inspired by Georgia O’Keefe and her feminine floral paintings, which we thought would fit the bill. 

The beer itself was a sour beer brewed with pomegranate and thyme. 

What would you like people to know about you?

I show my paintings at a store in Camden, Maine called Jessie Tobias Designs. I try and rotate to have one or two there at a time. I am interested in traveling and painting the scenes from my travels. Often the photos I take that are a bit odd, feel like there is something missing, or are mundane imagery are the best for me to paint. I find liminal spaces are the most interesting. They exist in this mysterious in-between of familiarity and abandonment which allow the viewer to really feel connected to the work. Last March my husband and I got married in Iceland and the imagery there had such a limited palette of colors it was so inspiring to paint. I want to spend my life embedded in the landscape so I can translate the feeling of a space to the canvas. 

In terms of label design, which this is for…. the challenge of coming up with different style to draw/ paint is the most fun part of my job, paring the beer with an idea or imagery, and having great designers layer their fonts and graphic sensibility over my paintings and drawings is very satisfying. It’s exciting to see the finished product on a can. It is way different than a canvas, a lot of time I have to remind myself that the image is going to be way smaller in real life on the can, and what other elements of the design will overlay the image. I really like the challenge, but honestly my coworkers are so damn good at what they do it doesn’t feel like a challenge. It is really satisfying to produce raw artwork and see it translated in so many ways within the brewery it is exciting. The more opportunities that the brewery has for me to make artwork to support the brand, the more grateful I am that I have this opportunity at my job. 

The completed label incorporating the artwork

The art, can, label, and caption as part of the CANVAS exhibit

Artist Nico LeBarge


The labeled can

For our 45th anniversary, we created an exhibit entitled “CANVAS” celebrating the art of the can…. Or more specifically, the label art ON the cans of our beer-brewing customers. More about CANVAS

Amherst Label founded 1978 More

The complete CANVAS exhibit

Every label tells a story….

CLICK to learn more about Amherst Label’s commitment to helping breweries tell their stories.