Artist Jan Sharkey Thomas was born in Dobbsferry New York in 1930 and tutored early at home by a master of pen and ink portraiture, Bert Sharkey. The young artist had the honor of selecting from two scholarships for design and commercial art directly from high school, after which, apprenticeship in a Manhattan print house and later a Park Avenue couturier led ultimately to a free-lance commercial art career.
Lured away from the city by a love for the woods, the artist settled in Manotick, Ontario, later migrating to western Canada and Salt Spring Island, B.C. Sharkey is best known for the studies of animals which were published by Pepper House Fine Arts Ltd. Canada, and distributed internationally from 1970 to 1986. Collectors of Sharkey’s originals were introduced to the artist’s work through two solo exhibitions at the Abercrombie and Fitch Gallery-on-Six, Madison Ave.NY, a television portrait of the artist produced and aired by CBC Canada, and illustrated interviews in Nature Canada and the Readers Digest.
Election to the Society of Animal Artists in 1973 meant the privilege of exhibiting annually with the very best of nature and animal artists from all over the world. Sharkey’s family included five ocelots, one of whom lived for 25 years figuring prominently in much of the artist’s work. Teaching at the Penticton Game Farm with the Okanagan Summer School of the Arts for a decade, Sharkey helped to guide aspiring animal painters through aspects of animal drawing that can only be learned working directly from the animals. The Village Square Art Gallery in Ontario has mounted numerous solo exhibitions of the artist’s work during a long and diverse painting career.