Right across from the infamous Mothman statue in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, artist Pam Conley meets weekly with other artists at the Lowe Hotel’s Gallery at 409 to paint.

Conley has always had an interest in animals but not necessarily for the artistic aspect.

What started as a childhood enchantment later turned into a full-fledged career for her.

Conley said that unless she wanted to become a zookeeper, biology was limited to laboratory settings.

After a 20-year career in biology and working in various laboratories, Conley began to combine his fascination with the study of life with elegant brushstrokes, capturing creatures that deserve our full attention.

Conley was diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2003, leaving her to deal with chronic pain. As she neared retirement, Conley said her husband recommended she find a hobby for therapeutic reasons.

Using art as therapy is a calming practice for many, and Conley credits it with saving her from depressive episodes brought on by the constant pain.

She said, “I went into the artistic aspect and focused on animals because I’m so concerned about these species.”

Conley uses endangered animals as his main subject and uses prints of them to raise funds and awareness, sending his art to the Australian Bat Society. Conley recently painted a mega bat using a photographer’s image as a reference.

Conley keeps the original copies of his art and then sells digital copies to various organizations around the world who then use his pieces for awareness and fundraising.

According to Conley, we are going through a sixth mass extinction event. Unlike other events in history, this one is accelerated by our own human hands.

A painting by Pam Conley. Conley focuses on wildlife in his works.

Conley belongs to a group called Artists and Biologists United for Nature (ABUN) which consists of artists who focus on using their work to raise awareness for conservation.

ABUN was created in 2016 by a husband and wife duo committed to preserving ecosystems. In their first year alone, ABUN has carried out numerous projects, including the defense of endangered macaws in Peru and an awareness campaign on primate trafficking.

Conley has completed two paintings for the cause and is working on his third.

“The rate at which we are losing our species is very alarming. We depend on these animals. Bats, bees, not to mention apex predators – you lose them and the food chain disappears,” she said.

Conley lives in Gallipolis, but his art is in the Jewel Art Gallery in Ashland.

Conley’s main medium is watercolour, but she has recently started dabbling in oils.

“I do pastels when I want a tedious project,” Conley said, adding that she occasionally takes laborious pieces to get away from it all.

“I like getting lost in it,” Conley said.

She credits her development to her people and advises budding artists to surround themselves with people who love art.


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