Peg Conley

A love of nature has always been a part of my life.  I grew up in Indiana and would often jump on my bike riding out among the cornfields to sit by a creek and contemplate life.  Since 1981, when I drove my VW Bug out West, I have lived in Salt Lake City, Seattle, San Francisco and Portland -- all places accessible to good hikes, beautiful gardens and exquisite scenery.

Nature's creations:  the Beauty of a Flower, the Elegance of the Moon, the Simplicity of Bare Trees, and the Majesty of Mountains are all images that I capture in my watercolors.  Evident in my work, I am nurtured in nature and I have incorporated my philosophy of life into my words which I have thoughtfully paired with my watercolors with the hope of enriching and inspiring all who come in contact with my work.

Peg Conley - Words and Watercolors Artist

“The outdoors inspires me not only with the peace of mind that comes from breathing fresh air but also with all the beauty that is inherent in nature.”

– Peg Conley

The Process

There would not be any cards without my watercolors so that is where the process begins. I like to work outside so you can find me sitting amidst a garden, or on a hike sketching in my journal, or taking pictures that will remind me what it was I wanted to capture when I’m back at my kitchen table (my studio).

First I draw with pencil the image I want to render. I’ve tried to do the watercolor without a pencil foundation but have yet to feel comfortable without that sketch first. From there the watercolor gets added. It’s funny how I can get very detailed in my sketch yet when I begin to add the paint I get looser as I listen to Jazz on my iPod. Jazz music is my favorite to play while painting. The improvisation of my artwork as it unfolds.

“I dip my brush in the water then into the palette; the colors are released onto the paper. This is when the magic of watercolor happens.”

– Peg Conley

My printer, Leewood Press in San Francisco, receives the image files that I’ve put together and in their prepress department, electronically lays out the art of multiple cards up for the soon to be press sheets. Before the presses can run, proofs are made. This is an essential part of the process because it is the last step to catch errors or make adjustments before we go to press. Everything has to be just right. You can now catch errors and make adjustments. The color might be off, or you’ll see a typo, or you decide to change the cropping of an image. Once any errors and changes are made and all the proofs are approved, the images are sent to a laser plate setter where 4 aluminum plates are “burned.” One each for the 4 CMYK layers of ink, cyan, magenta, yellow and black, when combined on press produce the art.

Early in the morning on the day the printing takes place I attend a press check where I review with the pressmen the first printed press sheets that come off the large 6-color Heidelberg press. It weighs 63 tons and has so many automated features it is driven by a 6-foot tall computer containing 39 boards. When I have decided that everything is as planned, I place my John Hancock upon one press sheet, signifying my approval to begin the press run. With the rhythm of the press humming along as the blank paper begins at the feeder end of the press and passes through each of the 6 units and the coating tower 4 of which apply a layer of my art onto the sheets of paper where at the delivery end the images have all come together with an overall aqueous matte coating.

After a short period of drying, it’s now onto the bindery department where the freshly printed sheets are trimmed out, scored, and folded into the final product, a greeting card. The cards are then inventoried into the warehouse by category and are all ready for distribution to retailers and to you as a purchaser on the Words & Watercolors website.

A big THANK YOU to all you for allowing me to show you my art and for all of your support!

“Jazz music is my favorite to play while painting. The improvisation of jazz is similar to improvisation of my artwork as it unfolds.”

– Peg Conley

I lift open the lid of my palette to reveal rich reds, royal blues, brilliant yellows, oranges and my favorite “sap green” along with other sepia and neutral tones. I dip my brush in the water then into the palette; the colors are released on to paper. This is when the magic of watercolor happens. The colors blend or create a wash effect. I may have an idea of what I want the outcome to look like but I try to let the medium perform its magic (again, like jazz!).

Once the painting is complete, it needs to be scanned. A high-resolution scan is needed for the printing process. Once scanned and loaded into my computer, I can bring it into Photoshop and InDesign and format the image (color/size) add the text and create the card.

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