Ring up the curtain! Velutinous: Acrylic painting on canvas, 6x6"

Velutinous by Leah Palmer Preiss

It’s showtime! Welcome to another week of illustrated words for A.Word.A.Day. As always, Anu offered me a wonderfully diverse & evocative selection of words, beginning this year with “velutinous.”

This one appealed to me instantly, as I’ve always loved the luxurious texture of velvet, & I immediately thought of cats with their velvety fur & their natural affinity for claiming the most voluptuous spot in the house. Not to mention their convenient ability to pose in an elegant V shape, complete with volute tail! (Yes, all those lovely V words appear in the background text of this painting, scanned from one of my antique dictionaries.) I threw in a few volute accents on the Victorian armchair in the background, just for extra visual rhythms & because I’m a maximalist by nature.

The original painting & prints thereof are available in my Etsy shop, Curious Art Lab. I’ll be adding more A.Word.A.Day paintings there as they appear this week, & you can also find past A.Word.A.Day words here.

And if you’d like to see work-in-progress pictures such as the one below, along with the occasional process video, please follow me on Instagram!

Velutinous Tassel in Progress

GreenHill Winter Show Gallery News

Acrylic painting by Leah Palmer Preiss of Indian and African elephants, alphabet letter X

I’m very happy to announce that I will have two paintings in this year’s GreenHill  Winter Show. Tonight (1 December 2018) is the Collector’s Choice Fundraiser, & tomorrow is the public opening from 2:00-5:00 PM. Unfortunately I can’t make it to the fundraiser, but I’ll be there tomorrow, so if you are in or near Greensboro, NC, come on by & say hi!


Coffee & Taxes Counting Sheep Mug on Zazzle + Etsy Pi Day Sale!

Counting Sheep Mug

In honor of Pi Day (tomorrow) & tax season (seemingly interminable) I’ve added a Counting Sheep mug to my Zazzle shop, & today Zazzle is having a sale on classic mugs (you’ll need to enter the code & specify the classic version with the white handle to get the full discount.) And as always you can also find prints on my Etsy shop— where (today-Thursday only), you can get 3.14 off any order!

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

Acrylic painting of octopus emitting ink by Leah Palmer Preiss. Background of ocean plastic pollution

A wonderful Patron of the Curious Arts commissioned this painting inspired by one of her favorite words, Obfuscation.  It is one of my Curiotype images, featuring a figure forming the initial letter of a word while illustrating the concept.

As I was pondering how to accomplish this, the image of an octopus popped into my head, Luckily for me, it just so happens that the octopus is not only a very appealing subject to paint, but a master of obfuscation. Not only are some species capable of astonishing chromatic camouflage, but many also create decoy shapes, known as pseudomorphs, by emitting ink as they escape potential predators.

While this creature certainly isn’t camouflaged by color (since we did want it to be visible), it’s doing its best to obscure the background text. Nonetheless the definition of “obfuscation” peeks through, along with glimpses of an engraved illustration of Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.

The brightly colored swirl of “confetti” bordering the octopus may look festive, but it represents a dismal reality: the pollution of the oceans by waste plastic. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is only one of many gyres composed largely of non-biodegradable plastic. Even our obfuscating octopus can’t obscure the dreadful prospect that by 2050, there may be more plastic than fish in the sea.

I hope we can reverse this terrible trajectory & keep the ocean safe for magnificent creatures like the octopus.

Prints of this image are available in my Etsy shop, Curious Art Lab.

Odd Fellowship at Arch Enemy Arts Gallery Show Opening


If you’re in or near Philadelphia, please stop by Arch Enemy Arts tonight for their Open Call 2018 opening! (2 February 2018 6-10 p.m.) Odd Fellowship will be there, along with a bunch of wonderfully imaginative art by other artists– the poster image above is by Win Wallace. I’m thrilled to be included, though sadly I won’t be there for the opening. The show will be up through the 24th if you can’t make it tonight either.

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

Arch Enemy Arts Open Call



Free Bibliophile Bookmarks! Instant Printable Download

Edit: My apologies to those who’ve had trouble contacting me! My contact page plugin chose the worst moment to behave badly. I think it is working now, but if you have any difficulty you can email me directly at curiouser {at} mindspring.com

Bibliophile Bookmark in Book

Hello to all the bibliophiles, bibliomaniacs, bibliophages & bibliognosts out there! (I’m sure none of you are biblioklepts.) I’ve created some free bookmarks for you: please contact me if you would like the high-resolution files (300 dpi, jpeg & pdf). Happy reading & happy holidays!

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!