Bibliophile Mug! CuriousArtLab now on Zazzle!

Acrylic painting by Leah Palmer Preiss of a bookworm with favorite booksBibliophile Mug

There’s a new experiment going on in the Lab– Curious Art Lab is now on Zazzle! 

Update: I’ve added quite a few designs since this first posted– beer mugs, ornaments, notebooks, puzzles, & gift wrap also!

Dreaming Mug by Leah Palmer PreissXenophile MugDarwin mug by Leah Palmer PreissMalinger-Mug_Leah-Palmer-Preiss

For now it’s just the Bibliophile mug (it’s available in various sizes & formats), but if you would like another image as an option, or this image on a different item, please let me know, either in the comments below or via the contact button. Thanks to those who have suggested this possibility!

Robustious Red Squirrels Acrylic on text on canvas, 6" x 6"

Acrylic painting by Leah Palmer Preiss of playful red squirrels in oak tree    What animal is more robustious than a squirrel? When Anu gave me this delightful word, I envisioned a playful pair climbing a tree together. Sketching it out took me back to the days when my twin boys were small. They loved roughhousing with each other, but even more with my husband, so I decided to make the pair a parent and child. I also made them red squirrels, for more “R” goodness, & the tree they’re climbing is a robur oak (which just happened to be on the same page of the dictionary). I loved the line in the definition of “robustious” that read “Now Chiefly Humorous,” so I echoed it in a hidden message in the oak bark. And then I painted lots & lots & lots of fur! By the way, if you enjoy seeing my work in process photos, the best place to go is my Instagram page, CuriousArtLab. If you follow me there, you’ll even see sneak peeks of my A.W.A.D. paintings before they’re published, though I never give away the words.

Thanks again, Anu, for another wonderful week of words to illustrate, & for bringing us so much linguistic loveliness all year round! And thanks to all of you A.W.A.D. fans who have commented, contacted me by email, & otherwise connected. It’s such a pleasure to meet other logophiles & hear your stories!

Acrylic painting in progress, red squirrels on oak branch by Leah Palmer Preiss


Quaggy Ecology Acrylic on text on canvas, 6" x 6"

Acrylic painting by Leah Palmer Preiss of blue heron with fish in wetlands    My parents live by a pond (with very quaggy edges) & for a while they were regularly visited by a magnificent great blue heron. So when Anu gave me this word, I instantly thought of “Oscar” (as he was named by my grandmother, though I’m not sure why). I doubt Oscar ever landed a fish as large as this, nor could his neck bend in quite such a conveniently Q-like fashion, but he was an intrepid fisherman & a gorgeous creature, so this is my tribute to his majestic beauty. North Carolina (where most of my family lives) is the home of wonderful wetlands. As with many such areas across the country, they are very much in danger from over-development, so I thought of this dilemma often as I was painting this. Let’s hope generations to come will still be able to experience the wonder & awe I felt when Oscar came to visit. 

Acrylic painting in progress by Leah Palmer Preiss, great blue heron head, miniature painting detail

Acrylic painting in progress by Leah Palmer Preiss, miniature fish detail


Gastronome Acrylic on text on canvas, 6" x 6"

Acrylic painting by Leah Palmer Preiss of a giraffe in Flemish garb with a laden table still lifeAnother delicious word from Anu! I love to paint food, especially teeny tiny food, & I’m a huge fan of the lavish Dutch & Flemish still-life table paintings known as Pronkstilleven. I also have a penchant for animals in costumes & for adding hidden messages in my work, so working on this painting felt a bit gluttonous, indulging so many of my curious tastes all at once!

Acrylic Painting in process by Leah Palmer Preiss, showing a tiny cabbage and ham

In addition to the letter “G” formed by the giraffe & his goblet, & the rather obvious spot-spelling, there are smaller messages to be found, & of course, the background definition of “gastronome” tops it off. (This was another page with many related words– luckily I didn’t pick the wrong one this time as I did for “bibliomania!“)

Acrylic painting in progress by Leah Palmer Preiss showing hidden messages in lace and fur

Interesting how so many eating-related words start with “G”: glutton, gourmet, gourmand, gastronome, gobble, guzzle, gorge, gulp… I’m sure some of them are cognates. Anyway it seemed to me that a giraffe, complete with long tongue & capacious gullet, seemed to belong here as well!

Chatoyant Experiments Acrylic on text on canvas, 6" x 6"

Acrylic painting of cat on silk cushion with glowing green eyes by Leah Palmer PreissAfter all my years of logophilia, I still get a thrill from discovering new words– especially words as enchanting as this one. Of course, that’s one of the reasons I love A.Word.A.Day. When Anu introduced me to “chatoyant” I couldn’t wait to paint this illustration!

It’s surprising that I never ran across this word before, because I’ve always had a thing for optical effects: oil rainbows on puddles, shot silk, iridescent glazes on pottery, even beetles plaguing the garden but entertaining my eyes. And you could probably already guess that I’m quite fond of cat’s eyes too!

Perhaps even more surprising, I’d never before experimented with interference colors— in part because they are fairly pricey & I was a little afraid that after one dose, I might develop an expensive new paint addiction.  Also, as an illustrator I was taught to avoid reflective materials because they don’t scan well & it’s hard to reproduce their effects in print or on screen.  But for this piece, I knew the time had come to take the plunge. Sure enough, its dazzle is very hard to get across in a still image, but I enhanced both the cat’s eyes & the frame texture with Golden Interference Green, & with the right lighting it creates a pretty cool flash effect!

I created a couple of crude gifs (below) that somewhat capture the chatoyant flash:



I’m also considering embellishing some prints of this image with interference paint on the eyes, so the print lovers out there can get in on the chatoyant action!  What do you think? Please let me know in the comments below, or request a custom image in my Etsy shop.

True Confessions of a Bibliomaniac Acrylic on text on canvas, 6" x 6"

Acrylic painting by Leah Palmer Preiss of a bookworm with favorite books    I’ll admit it, I’m a lifelong book addict. I love reading them, but I also love looking at them, touching them, talking about them, hoarding collecting them, & simply enjoying their beautiful & comforting presence all around me.  So when Anu Garg offered “bibliomania” as one of this year’s words for A.Word.A.Day, I was ecstatic. I scanned the definition from one of my collection of vintage dictionaries. (Please don’t ask how many I have– it’s a fraught subject in this household!) It took a little while to figure out how to illustrate the concept in the form of a letter “B,” but when I sketched out a twisted bookworm with a precipitous stack of books, I knew I was on my way.

Here’s where the true confession comes in. (You thought it was the book-hoarding part, didn’t you? But that doesn’t embarrass me in the least!) My real transgression? I illustrated the wrong word!

I painted three of the other words before I started on this one (don’t worry, no spoilers here), & by the time I came to this painting, I somehow focused on another definition from the dictionary page I’d scanned, & got it in my head that I was illustrating “bibliophile.”

I’ve always said that I can’t see the forest for the lichen. I may be meticulous in many ways, but alas, I’m very far from methodical, or I would have had the sense to double-check my word list before plunging ahead. Instead I obsessed for days over choosing the books for the stack & painting all the tiny titles. The worst part is that “bibliophile” is even involved in a sort of puzzle element hidden in the art (that’s a hint), so it’s not just the background that’s off-key….

Painting in progress, work in progress by Leah Palmer Preiss

Ah, well. The whole thing reminds me of a painful anecdote I once read, about a printer carefully proofreading every little town in a highly-detailed map of the Untied States… ;-)

In any case, I hope you can forgive me for getting lost in the dark & disorienting forest that is my brain, & focus with me on the fascinating lichen of teeny tiny thumbnail-sized books!

The open book on the floor is the one that started my own case of bibliomania,  Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.  I scanned & reduced the “Mouse’s Tale” spread from a beautiful vintage copy given to me long ago by one of my oldest, best & most bibliomaniacal friends. (Yes, you, Natalie!)

As for the books that the bookworm is clutching so fondly, many of Anu’s fans will recognize the titles, though I’ve taken some liberties with the cover designs to fit the old-school style. Thanks & apologies once again to Anu & all of my fellow bibliomaniacal logophiles!

Alice on floor

Update: This image is now available on mugs in my Zazzle shop!

Bibliophile Mug by Leah Palmer Preiss depicting a bookworm with books



Dungeons & Dragons Dragon+ Cover Acrylic on text on canvas, 9" x 12"

Acrylic painting by Leah Palmer Preiss for Dungeons and Dragons Dragon Plus Magazine, Kupalue the curious Vegepygmy

When Shauna Narciso, Art Director of Dragon+ Magazine asked if I’d like to illustrate a “curious vegepygmy” in a fantasy jungle setting, you can imagine my reaction. It was truly a dream assignment,  full of hidden messages & tendrilicious details. If you’d like to read the story that inspired the illustration, as well as an interview in which I perhaps reveal too much about my working process, have a look at Dragon+ Issue 16, now online!

Cockalorum Returns To the Roost Acrylic on text on canvas, 6" x 6"

Acrylic painting by Leah Palmer Preiss , caricature of Donald Trump as rooster, Year of the Rooster art, Anti-Trump artThe contemptible Cockalorum is back in the studio after strutting around in the Visual Art Exchange Hearsay show for the past month, so I am finally able to list the original on Etsy! Perhaps you’re in need of some outhouse decor? Or a very expensive dartboard? Prints are available too if you’d prefer a cheaper target.

Edit: By request of an anonymous source, I’m now offering mugs with this ugly mug in my Zazzle shop.

Anti-Trump Cockalorum mug by Leah Palmer Preiss



Sweet n Low Bedford Gallery

Acrylic Painting by Leah Palmer Preiss, Odd Fellowship, pop surrealism


I’m delighted to announce that these two paintings (Odd Fellowship & Advice From a Bunnipillar) will be a part of Sweet n Low, a group show at the Bedford Gallery, Walnut Creek CA, June 22 – August 27, 2017.  If you’re in the area, please drop by & see them in person! I’m sorry to say I won’t be able to make the opening, but it sure sounds like a fun show!

From the Gallery’s Website:

Sweet n Low features artwork from over 130 local, national, and international artists who extend the genre of cute from cuddly and precious to creepy and ironic. From kitsch and Margaret Keane’s Big Eyes, to Japanese anime and contemporary Pop Art, we’re unleashing the roly-poly, goofily-gamboling, saccharine-honeyed creatures on this earth and beyond!  Sweet n Low is part invitational and part juried exhibition, juried by Evan Pricco of Juxtapoz magazine and Antler Gallery, Portland, OR.

The Gallery is closed Tuesday July 4th