Monthly Archives: December 2021

Lentic Acrylic on Text on Canvas, 6″ x 6″

Acrylic painting by Leah Palmer Preiss, Lentic: A goldfish and a turtle in a lily pond with a frog, snails, & water lilies. Ecology art, nature lover gift

There’s just something about cutaway diagrams & models that has fascinated me since I was very young. Maybe it started with dollhouses, or science museums, or classroom posters, but the sensation of being granted a curated view into a secret space behind or beneath the surface still feels magical to me.

When I realized that Lentic would lend itself to this treatment I felt such giddy, childlike delight! Not only did creating the cutaway make me happy, but the softly rippling water & gently waving lilies were soothing to paint when I felt stressed– almost like watching an aquarium. So when Anu chose this painting to end our week of illustrated words, it felt just right to be floating out on this peaceful note!

I’m eternally grateful to Anu for making it possible for me to create these pieces & to connect with such lovely logophiles every year. And I deeply appreciate all your support through my Etsy shop, Curious Art Lab, & through your kind comments & messages.

I wish you all a peaceful, healthy & happy holiday season, & I look forward to seeing you again in 2022!

SeraphicAcrylic on Text on Wood Panel, 8″ x 8″

When I first sketched out this seraphic being, it had feathery wings that were fiery only in color, much like the phoenix in Fulgor.
Although I do love to paint feathers, as I thought more about the word’s etymology–

“From Latin seraphim, from Greek seraphim, from Hebrew seraphim, from saraph (to burn).”

A.Word.A.Day

–I decided to try a rough sketch of a straight-up flaming version. Once it began to take shape, I never looked back.

As I was painting the face I tried to capture a sense of seraphic serenity, but also of empowerment & determination. I visualized a being capable of bringing light & comfort in dark times, like fire itself, but also holding immense power & mystery.

This was my second painting on panel after Daedal. The (slightly) larger size and smoother surface seemed to befit an angelic entity!

The original painting & prints are now available in my Etsy shop, Curious Art Lab.

Xylophilous Acrylic on Text on Canvas, 6″ x 6″

Nature art painting by Leah Palmer Preiss, Xylophilous: Tree wildlife-- beaver, chipmunk, owl, woodpecker & other birds, mushrooms, ferns on crossed tree trunks

Even though I live in a city, a block away from a busy street, I’m definitely xylophilous! (In the etymological sense, that is– wood-loving.) My childhood home bordered on a forest, & my family spent many hours working, playing & wandering in the woods. But I’ve always said that I can’t see the forest for the lichen, because my favorite thing to explore & paint are all the tiny little life-forms that are overshadowed (yet also supported) by the overstory.

So when Anu offered this word, I jumped at the chance to create my own little peaceable kingdom of wood-loving flora & fauna. It’s certainly not an accurate sample of xylophilous species in the scientific sense, & it vastly under-represents the number of species that depend on trees– I couldn’t begin to show the tiny beetles and borers that live in & under bark, for example– but I hope it gets the point across that even dying or damaged trees can be teeming with life & potential & beauty in their own way. As William Blake said, “A fool sees not the same tree that a wise man sees.” Or even a wise beetle!

I couldn’t resist hiding that quotation in the bark, & if you look in the background near the pendulous possum, you may find a rather dreadful math pun tucked in there too. Apologies in advance.

The original painting is sold, but prints are now available in my Etsy shop, Curious Art Lab.

Involute

Acrylic painting by Leah Palmer Preiss: A curious curly fiddlehead fern-creature greets a snail atop a magic mushroom.

I’ve always had a weakness for curly green things…

…so when Anu offered the word Involute, my mind went right to fiddlehead ferns. And because I am probably part snail, I thought I’d throw in a little self-portrait as well! But then my alter-ego looked a bit lonely, so Fiddlehead Fernfellow was born. And what better place for the two to meet than on a magic mushroom in the moonlight?

The original painting is sold; prints are now available in my Etsy shop, Curious Art Lab.

Into the Labyrinth! Daedal, Acrylic on Text on Wood Panel, 8″ x 8″

An acrylic painting on panel by Leah Palmer Preiss, showing a group of golden dinosaurs exploring a labyrinth shaped like the letter D.

When Anu Garg offered me the word “Daedal” to illustrate for A.Word.A.Day, I knew it was bound to get complicated, & sure enough, it was a long & labyrinthine path from my first concept to the finished painting.

Originally we had intended it to appear in 2020, to complete my second A.W.A.D. alphabet, but it took me so long to finish that we decided to save it for 2021. Patience is one of Anu’s many virtues, for which I’m endlessly grateful!

Even though there were many times during the making of Daedal that I feared I might never escape its convolutions & complexities, there were also moments of serendipity and delight. Early on, as I was struggling through the construction stage, (3D architectural drawing is so not my forte!) I heard this amazing poem by A. E. Stallings on the Poetry Magazine podcast:

“To build a labyrinth it takes
A twisted mind, a puzzled art,
A fractal branching of mistakes.” (See the full poem here.)

Not only was the poem literally titled “Daedal” (!!!) but it perfectly captured my feelings about creating this piece, and the journey of my artwork in general. I asked the author’s permission to include the above lines in the painting, & when she was kind enough to say yes, I felt I’d been given a magical talisman conferring the strength I needed to keep building!

Finally, the structure began to take shape. Then a group of dinosaurs came to visit. Then one of them morphed into a dinotaur (or is it a minosaur?)–this was starting to feel like my kind of adventure!

When I was finally ready to turn the drawing into an actual painting, I realized it just wasn’t going to fit on my usual 6″ x 6″ canvas. I ended up using an 8″ x 8″ wooden panel, a new experience for me that I liked so much I did it again for another A.W.A.D. piece this year. (Stay tuned!)

In the end, I was grateful for the lessons I learned from this “fractal branching of mistakes!” If you’re curious to see a snippet of my super-slow invisible-brushstroke painting method, (no joke, this is really what it’s like *sob*) check out this little video on my Instagram page.

The original painting is sold; prints are now available in my Etsy shop, Curious Art Lab.