Long Island artist pays tribute to late brother with seashells turned into works of art

SMITHTOWN, New York -- As soon as you walk into Marni Butchkoskis's backyard, seashells of all shapes and sizes can be found almost everywhere.

"Since I was a kid, I've never walked by a good shell," said Butchkoski as she inspects her latest pick-up from the shores of Long Beach.

Butchkoski has been painting for over 20 years, but her art took a backseat after meeting her husband and pursuing a different career.

However, after the untimely passing of her brother from stage 4 cancer, Butchkoski dove into art to cope with the pain.

"He was a surfer, and he lived at the beach," said Butchkoski. "We were at the beach a lot, we were doing a lot of tributes, and my house just became covered in shells."

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The idea to paint the shells came from a creative birthday gift idea.

Soon enough, more and more people started asking for custom-made shells.

That is when Butchkoski created Art By Marni B.

"It's just like this meditation almost where my mind is so still," said Butchkoski. "I'm focusing on what is in front of me whereas sometimes I can be overthinking things, but I am really so present with my painting. I'm focused on what I'm doing, and I get lost in that."

Her hand-crafted seashells have filled hundreds of homes, and the orders keep on coming with every picture she posts on her page.

The popular Instagram page has the latest shells she has worked on for her custom orders.

"You have an idea, a vision, you give it to me, and I create gorgeous art within the seashell," said Butchkoski.

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Butchkoski runs her business out of her home.

Her studio is filled with paintbrushes of all sizes, a variety of colors to choose from, and a picture of her brother surfing hanging proudly right above where she creates.

"Marc did this for us," said Butchkoski, who wouldn't be where she is today without the support of her family. "They have extreme pride with what I'm doing, and it shows."

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