Let face it, most parents love to brag about their kids and their kids’ accomplishments. It sort of comes with the territory these days. If you’re a parent, you know the drill. You run into a friend or acquaintance you haven’t seen for a while and before long the conversation steers in the direction of your kid or kids.
What are they up to? What are they doing for a living? Where do they work? Are they married, etc., etc., etc.?
I’m a proud papa and my wife is a proud mama. We love our daughter, who is married and lives on the island and has a successful career in the airline industry. She also has a budding avocation, or side business if you will, producing art. Simply put, she pencil draws portraits of people’s pets – dogs, cats, horses, chickens, you name it – and will also do drawings of children and adults if asked to do so.
Like a lot of fledgling businesses, Molly Brahmer Art (which can be found on Instagram, Facebook and TicTok) got it’s start serendipitously. “One of my friend’s dog died,” recalls Molly, whose maiden name is Dwyer. “She was super sad so I thought I’d draw a portrait of her dog so she could remember it. So I did.”
That was sometime in the fall of 2019. Her friend liked the portrait of her former pet so much that she posted it on her own Facebook and Instagram pages, and not long after, other people who saw it, “reached out and said, ‘I like what you did, could you do that for me?’” Molly recalls.
Soon her drawings were attracting the attention of Bainbridge friends, along with airline co-workers and flight attendant buddies from Seattle and elsewhere. Before too long, her fun, little sideline was turning into a legitimate business. She now has a business license with the City of Bainbridge Island, business cards and promotional materials.
She estimates she’s done more than 100 portraits of varying sizes in the last two years, including a large format piece that sold for nearly $1,000. “I’ll (draw) anything,” she says, “including people, but I’ve mainly been doing dogs.”
Molly got her start in the art world at a very young age. She started doodling pictures of animals and cartoon characters, such as Bart Simpson, on large pieces of construction paper her dad – ah me – would bring home from the office, before she was going to pre-school.
The art bug stuck with her throughout her growing up years at Ordway Elementary, Sakai Intermediate School, Woodward Middle School and into Bainbridge High School. At BHS, she took art classes in drawing, jewelry making, ceramics, and painting, and learned to work with colored pencils, chalk, pastels and charcoal.
One of her favorite pieces from high school – a large, three-section play on a saxophone – earned an award from the then Bainbridge Arts & Humanities Council and a display at Bainbridge Arts & Crafts.
During her college years at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, she took more art classes – drawing live models, learning to master pen and ink, plus some additional jewelry making.
Despite her love of art, she wound up with a bachelor’s of science degree in Applied Math, with a minor in Studio Art. But her love of art was always close to the surface. Her birth mom, who Molly and her parents are still very close to, loved to draw, and Molly clearly inherited some of those instincts.
Molly, who also does some modeling in her spare time for island photographer Pete Saloutos, says pencil drawing is “more exact than (using) free-flowing paints and pastels. It’s the math part of my brain coming in (to play),” she figures. “I don’t really enjoy abstract art. With portraits, it either looks like the (subject) or it doesn’t.”
Molly’s portraits are usually done in 5 x 7 inch, 8 x 10 inch and 9 x 12 inch formats. She typically charges clients by the square inch and by the number of subjects in a particular portrait. “One lady asked me to do seven pets on one page,” she says. “It was crazy.”
So how does she actually do her artwork? Clients text or email her a photo of their pet or other subject and she “draws it from that…If the photo is of poor quality (or in a smaller format), it’s way more challenging.”
“People love memorializing their pets,” adds Molly, who just turned 34 years old. “The smaller photos are harder to do and don’t turn out as well compared to the larger ones.”
Molly doesn’t think her work is unique in anyway, but she figures she may be one of only a few artists locally who are producing hand-drawn portraits. Her long-term goal is to someday swap out her nearly full-time flying career in favor of her art business.
“It would be nice if this was my main source of income and flying was supplemental,” she says, noting, too, that drawing pets can sometimes be an emotional exercise.
To learn more about Molly Brahmer’s portraits, visit her @MollyBramherArt on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok. You can also email her at: MOLLYBRAHMERART@Gmail.com
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