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Sharon Molloy: dog whisperer

Pet artist Sharon Molloy and Dharma admire the Wonder Dog’s portrait.
Photo by Jonathan Fox

By Jonathan Fox
March 5, 2014

Pet portrait artist Sharon Molloy is on a spiritual journey. Born and raised in the U.K. and classically trained at the Winchester School of Art, she left England at age 21 and headed east. “I began my journey by traveling to India, searching for something,” she recalled during a recent interview. Unsure of what that “something” was, the artist found herself studying meditation, and soon her path led her to Thailand and then Japan, seeking “inner truth and inspiration through artistic expression.”

Relaxing by a fire at her turn-of-the-century farmhouse in Parksville, NY, Molloy shared some of the philosophy that drives her artwork, musing on life, death and the Buddhist principles that infuse her paintings seamlessly—allowing herself to “let go” and “immerse in a higher self,” freeing her mind and channeling creativity from the cosmos. “When I’m painting, the limited self vanishes,” she expressed. “That’s when you discover who you really are.” Upon completing her training, Molloy made a living as a muralist, specializing in the art of trompe l’oeil—a French term literally meaning “trick the eye.” It’s a style of painting that gives the appearance of three-dimensional or photographic realism, and unbeknownst to her at the time, would come to serve the artist well as her path led to those with four legs.

“There was never an intention to paint pets,” she said. “It just happened quite naturally, which is always the best way. One day I was painting the arch at the Livingston Manor library and the next?” My attention steered to the walls of her studio; dogs and cats, various creatures large and small, are everywhere. “When I pick up a brush, it’s a form of meditation and I’m able to feel the soul of an animal. It always starts with their eyes. Part of me vanishes and the spirit of the dog or cat speaks to me in a magical, transformational way.”

It all began about five years ago after the passing of Molloy’s faithful companion, Georgie. “I was grieving, looking at a picture of my dog and just started to paint,” she says. “Since animals are not known for sitting perfectly still, a photograph works best.” As she painted, Molloy felt liberated, feeling the love embrace her from the other side. “We all teach each other from the very essence of our being,” she shared. “That’s how animals are—they can’t speak in the traditional sense. Animals are not judgmental. They’re not thinking about the past or the future; they live in the moment, something I believe we should all strive to do.”