Feature Friday: Sunny Mullarkey

Happy Feature Friday!

This week we are featuring artist, Sunny Mullarkey! We love her nature inspired work! Each piece has so much life and whimsical detail to it while simultaneously having a  symmetry, precision and balance that really captures the very essence of nature and the creatures that inhabit it. Sunny has some awesome advice for all you artists out there, as well as some insight into her own journey as a lifelong creative. To check out more of her work visit the links below and read on to learn more about Sunny Mullarkey Studios!


: Tell us a little about yourself.

: I’m an artist and mother of three, living with my amazingly supportive husband, in Greenville, South Carolina. I have always been creative, from loving every colorful crayon, paint and paper I could get my hands on as a kid, to making art as my chosen profession today! I love hiking and strolling through the woods, exploring from the ground to the treetops – in the mountains or along the marshes of the coastline. Having family on these wilderness adventures means so much to me! My dad was in the Navy, so I moved around a lot as a child, until our family settled in Beaufort, South Carolina when I was 12. The lowcountry is magnificent, and I was very lucky to grow up in such a beautiful part of our world. I attended the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts for Visual Art, and went to Anderson University and the University of South Carolina for college, getting to explore so many mediums and art forms. I love listening to audiobooks, podcasts and lots and lots of music while in the studio!

: You’ve been drawn to art since you were young. What did you love about being creative as a child and how has that evolved as you’ve pursued art as an adult?

: I loved a new box of Crayola Crayons – those colors, the smell of fresh waxy goodness would make my heart swell! I loved drawing and painting, and just getting messy as a child. My mother was a quilter, so something new was always being made in our home, and we had no shortage of craft supplies. I was the oldest of my siblings, and the cousins we spent the most time with, so I loved getting crafty and making when we were all together. This really shines through with my children now – allowing them to be free to create whatever their hearts desire – their imaginations are just incredible,  and I never want to stifle their creativity. This in turn readily reminds me to be free in my own art – because that’s the beauty of making: art can be anything we want it to be, if we allow ourselves to be open to the freedom of our own imaginations.

: How did Sunny Mullarkey Studio get started?

: I have always been an artist, though I only started actively pursuing making art my profession in 2013. By the insistence of my husband, I rented my first studio space. I had made art while my children were young, while working part time and staying home with them, but making the decision to rent a studio space was a huge mindset shift for me. To make the conscious effort to create art on a regular basis, to put my work out into the world for others to see, to say the words “I am an artist” out loud to other human beings – those things were huge for me, and set me on the path I am on now. My first year in the studio, I painted a series of yoga paintings, and from there I created linocuts of those paintings – which reignited my love for printmaking! I have been primarily printmaking ever since! (Though I still paint a fair amount!)

: We love your linocuts and paintings! Do you have any personal favorites?

: Each season brings groups of new prints or paintings, and there is always a favorite or two among them! One will remind me of a moment of inspiration, or a sense of pride in nailing an idea I had envisioned in my head! The Scenic Moth was a first print I did in the series of prints with scenes in their wings, and I created a large painting based on that. ‘A World Within  A World’ has two feathers with a mountain and river scene inside of them – I was so thrilled at its outcome. ‘The Warbler and the Moon’ I love for my feeling of ‘stepping outside my comfort zone’ to create something i envisioned but thought would be a challenge to create – I was so proud for pushing myself. I love “Immortal Cicada” and ‘A Messenger in Trillium’ – both of which were created for our local arts councils 24 hour art contest – its a huge sense of accomplishment to create an entire piece from start to finish in 24 hours!

: Your studio in West Greenville is in a renovated 1935 Gulf Gas Service Station. What are some aspects of your studio that keep the inspiration coming?

: The energy of the studio is awesome – I have three talented and inspirational women as studio mates, all with their own medium of artistic expression. We talk about new projects, ideas, plan events together – and always are each other’s biggest cheerleaders. Feeling a sense of empowerment and support for your studio mates definitely keeps inspiration coming. One studio mate is an event florist, so there are always beautiful blooms in house! Our front room has incredible natural lighting, which is beautiful to take pictures in – with that light and those flowers, product shots have never been so easy!

: Nature is often an inspiration for many of your pieces. Is there a certain subject in nature that you keep coming back to in your art?

: Winged creatures are constantly present in my work – I am fascinated by flight. Floating and gliding through the air is the very idea of freedom. I love the tiny details often overlooked in these little birds, beetles or moths – intricate designs you must stop and take a moment to even notice. They are reminders to slow down, take in the beauty of the tiniest creatures, reminders that we ourselves are a part of something intricately beautiful by design. I love bringing those thoughts into my work.

: You’ve also taught classes in printmaking. Do you have any tips for those looking to start creating prints?

: Printmaking is so rewarding – it’s such a physical art form, yet your end result is a 2D piece of art! My advice is to Practice, Do what you can with the materials you can afford, and keep making new work. When you first start out, you’ll be rough around the edges…but with time and practice, you’ll get better with each print! Then you can move up to nicer tools and materials, once piece at a time!

: How does it feel when you send your work to a new home? What have been some of your favorite memories working with clients or getting feedback from your customers?

: It is such a humbling and thrilling feeling to have someone buy a piece of art, for them to say “I love your work!”  – that never stops being electric. I feel the need to make the world a more beautiful place, and I am so lucky I can do that through the art I create – not only in visual beauty, but in the happiness my work brings to others when they hang it in their home. I have other artists works that moves me, hanging in my home, and to know I can be a part of that feeling in someone else’s home, is incredibly inspiring. I have completed some very sweet commissions that have filled me with joy – one was a gift commissioned by a grandchild, for their grandfather: a large linoprint of the family’s homestead. The home was always filled with so much joy and shared happy memories, it was an honor to make this for the grandfather’s 85th birthday! Another was a 20th anniversary gift: I created a grouping of birds, plants and butterflies, each representing a state or city where the couple has lived – from where they’ve met to where they live now. How romantic!!

: You recently did a wall mural! What was it like painting on a wall and what future projects do you foresee for Sunny Mullarkey Studio?

: The Stone Mural Project was a wonderful experience – and I loved every minute of it! I was so lucky to be a part of the project, to have the chance to create this mural, and I really look forward to assisting on others (there will be 12 in the series!)  I had the help of some amazing people in the community – Greenville has a huge heart, and many creative and helping hands. Painting on the brick wall was a challenge – moving from brick to the mortar in between was tricky at times!! This mural gave me the drive to do it again – and again! Being able to do multiple creative project in different mediums is so creatively stimulating – it helps make me a better artist all around. Future projects will definitely include murals, more mixed media pieces, paintings…and of course, many more prints!

: Any advice for fellow artists?

: KEEP MAKING ART! It can get discouraging, especially when you are first getting started. But you must keep making art!  The more art we make, the better we get. The more art we make, the more we are putting ourselves out there and being vulnerable. The better we get and the more vulnerable we are, the better our art becomes. It takes time, diligence, some bravery, more time, and hard work….but it is ALL worth it!

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