Allow Good Things to Linger: In the Studio with Sonrise Daisy's Nicole Merwin
Like many of the local artists I admire, I was introduced to Nicole's work when I began crushing on her Instagram feed. Her bold linocut prints and her funky sticker designs had me smitten. The snapshots into her life on social media showed us her cute kiddos, her pups, her eclectic studio space- and when I kept seeing her work pop up around town, well, I just couldn't wait to ask her if I could have her here on the blog.
Nicole Merwin of Sonrise Daisy is a shining example of someone who cultivates and curates their life to make the most of everything she loves. When so many creative people spend time stressing over finding a specialty and perfecting our "thing," it's refreshing to find an artist with such a laid back and inclusive attitude as Nicole. Her studio is filled not only with her printing tools and painting supplies, but also family heirlooms, instruments, and, on occasion, puppies. A homeschooling mother, Nicole's art and her life are inseparable, with her creative work being as much a part of her as her dedication of family, love of good music, and appreciation of nature.
"We still laugh about the time I won a mini canvas art show at the Art Department and couldn't make it to the opening night ceremony because I was in active labor with my daughter! Motherhood and my art career have been co-existing ever sense."
In her creative space, Nicole says, "You’ll always find a warm cup of tea, an open stool at my workbench, and an invite to come, listen to the music and paint with me a while." And so, it's with such hospitality that she agreed to answer some of my nosy questions about her art practice and her studio!
What were you like as a kid? Have you always been artistic?
"I grew up in a very tight knit family," Nicole says, and a creative one at that. Her mother transformed their rundown farm into a lush oasis with her love of gardening, and her father, a master builder and luthier, "always brought creative ideas and beautiful music to the table."
Nicole, for her part, loved to paint.
"Painting was something that my grandmother did, and her mother before her. The love of the arts runs thick through my bloodline, and my passions were no exception. I’ve been painting since I can remember, and oh, if my childhood bedroom walls could tell a story, what an adventure it would be!"
Encouraged by her art teachers in school, Nicole was introduced to the bold use of color to express emotion, and found a love for creating abstract works. "Acrylic painting has always been my favorite way to express myself, and it wasn’t until after my fathers death in 2018 that I really dove into printmaking."
What's your studio space like?
Nicole named her studio "Sonrise Daisy," as a tribute to her father. "My dad owned Sonrise Woodart, a local luthier repair shop." After her father's passing, Nicole and her brother (the genius behind Bond Guitars, a local electric guitar builder) took over the space.
"After his passing, having a studio to work in was vital," Nicole says, and she brings her creativity into the space as a way to honor her father's own creative legacy. On an old guitar repair bench in his workshop, her paint brushes congregate next to luthier tools and her canvases are stacked up next to violin bows. Adopting the space for her artistic creations meant mingling the old and new, the past and present, and welcoming her father's memory into her creative space.
"I invite all good things to linger awhile," she says, "so you can always find dogs sleeping on the rugs, cats purring in the sunny windowsills, and children asking for markers and paper."
What's your organization style?
"I guess it’s safe to describe it as 'organized chaos' or 'a beautiful mess.' When the creativity is flowing I definitely like to ride that wave, but I do enjoy a good deep clean when switching mediums or major projects. During the midst of summer harvest you might even find herbs and prints drying next to one another!"
A relaxed but practical approach. I approve.
Nicole is also mindful of keeping her space stocked for when inspiration strikes. "I love having an extra supply of carving material and canvas."
How does your space help you to stay inspired?
"I find so much inspiration in color. I like to organize my materials in rainbow order. ROYGBIV is my default setting! "
Just as she likes to mix her own custom colors of ink and paint, "My studio is no different," she says. "It a mixture of custom colors and textures. I have vintage rugs and toolboxes from my great grandfather filled with markers, beautiful art pieces hanging from family and friends, shelving and a workbench hand made by my dad.... little treasured pieces from my life that all come and sit together, that all inspire and comfort me."
Many thanks to Nicole for showing us around her cozy and homey studio! I don't know about you, but I'm feeling inspired to revisit my own creative space and see how I can incorporate some of these meaningful touches...
You can glimpse Nicole's latest creations on Instagram @sonrisedaisy and purchase fun stickers and such on her website https://sonrisedaisy.bigcartel.com/