Since its inception, Down the Road Brewery has bee interested in the traditional folklore, classical literature and fairy tales. We have woven many disparate characters together to tell the story of our beer. From the Pukwudgie to Undine and the Changeling Child to Baba Yaga, we have conjured up quite the motley crew of mythical monsters and legendary personas, but we couldn’t have done it without our illustrator, Nikki Rossignol.
Nikki lives in in Montana with her husband and daughter as well as a pet cat and a dingo. Nikki draws endless inspiration from this vast landscape of endless plains and dramatic mountains. The land is both home and muse for Nikki, but it is not the sole font of her inspiration – much of what she paints comes from her dreams. “I am a lucid dreamer, and with practice I have learned to absorb the content I wish to dream about prior to falling asleep. I dream in vivid color, and I have trained myself to remember dreams in nearly complete detail. Many of my personal works are, in fact, replicated scenes from dreams.”
The Artist, Dreaming
Nikki began painting as a young girl. Her grandmother, a talented painter herself, taught Nikki about oil paint when she was only 10 years old. Although she loves the heavy, gestural qualities of oil, it was in water colors that she truly found her voice. Growing up, Nikki traveled constantly – for school, for work, for pleasure, but she always wanted to bring her art supplies with her. Oil paints are cumbersome and messy, so she resorted to packing watercolors for her journeys. Though difficult to learn, she soon came to love the flowing, impressionistic style of watercolor. When asked about her paint of choice, Nikki explained:
“I have a deep affection for the honesty of pure paint in the presence of loose water. To be successful in watercolor is to be in alliance with the properties of the medium; water, paper, air, gravity, and color. It is a mysteriously harmonious collaboration that I find most present in watercolor. I add another element in inking after the paint has dried (or before such as the “Seventh Star” label which is a technique to bleed color into a nebula). This line-work inking overlaid upon watercolor derived from the Golden Age of Illustration (1880’s – 1920’s) and was utilized by fairytale artists such as Kay Nielsen, Andrew Lang, Arthur Rackham and John Bauer.”
Once Upon A Time
Even before coming to Down the Road, Nikki had a penchant for classical fairy tales. In fact, her drawing of the Pukwudgie, which we used on our first beer label, was the catalyst that drew us together in the first place. When asked about her interest in fairy tales and illustration, Nikki explained:
“I have known from the very beginning that I was going to illustrate, simply because I always have. I would illustrate the unillustrated scenes from my Grandfather’s copy of Grimm’s Fairy Tales as early as 8 years old. My work has always been attached to a deeper narrative. Stories have habitually submerged themselves in my subconscious and, across a great expanse of reading, I have found myself most drawn to folklore. The archetypes of myths and folktales appear in my paintings like apparitions from another plane of existence. They are so immensely ingrained in my being that they take a large role in how I view (and in how I paint) subjects of both reality and fantasy.”
But her favorite mythical creature?
“The Norse Jörmungandr, or World Serpent, is wrapped around the world and in constant motion of devouring his own tail. This is my favorite mythical creature mainly because of the richness of the symbology. The Jörmungandr represents not only chaos (as an offspring of Loki) but, in devouring itself, encompasses the earth as a simultaneously protective and destructive force, which is known in Norse tradition as the Ragnarok Cycle.”
A true artist, inspired, original and utterly mad, Down The Road is incredibly lucky to know such a talented individual.
If you want to see more of Nikki Rossignol’s incredible artwork, check her out on Facebook.