Art

Paintings, illustrations, curiollages &c.

Coronamas Ornament Acrylic on Text on Wood, 4″ x 4″ Round

A masked coronavirus reading a book entitled Love in the Time of Covid, illustration by Leah Palmer Preiss

Despite covid19 restrictions, a broken furnace & serious carbon monoxide scare, unprecedented shipping delays & other seasonal difficulties, I’m feeling strangely jolly these days! Perhaps it’s the brush with death, or the thought that we’re almost to the end of the year & there’s a glimpse of light at the end of the 2020 tunnel.

I painted this ornament for my book club’s annual gift exchange, which didn’t end up happening, though we did enjoy a Zoom meeting. You may recognize the faux-antique text in the background from Yeanling… it seemed appropriate for this one too.

Let me know if you’d like a pdf with multiples of this image to print out for gift tags or ornaments. I’d be happy to send a link to a downloadable file!

Happy holidays & a happy new year to all!

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

Acrylic painting by Leah Palmer Preiss depicting an aye-aye playing the piano amid tropical foliage

Today’s word is almost as long as an aye-aye’s fingers. I’m not sure you could describe it as slender though. (Are there slender words? That’s a topic worth pondering.)

In any case, aye-aye fingers are long, slender, & dextrous, & the lemur relatives’ impressive hand spans would probably give them quite an advantage at the keyboard, though most piano teachers would suggest a shorter manicure. More importantly, they are natural percussionists, with highly sensitive touch & hearing. So it is only slightly insane to imagine them tickling the ivory.

Prints of this painting, along with the original while it lasts, are available in my Etsy shop, Curious Art Lab.

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

Acrylic painting by Leah Palmer Preiss depicting a teddy bear, a honey bear, gummi bears, & Ursa Major & Minor

Today’s word, ursiform, immediately conjured the vision of a teddy bear, along with the constellations Ursa Major & Ursa Minor. The honey bear & gummis invited themselves to the party much later on in the sketching process, whispering sweet nothings into my subconscious mind until I painted them in. I think in the end the teddy was happy to have more ursiform friends around!

Prints of this image (along with the original painting while it lasts) are available in my Etsy shop, Curious Art Lab.

Has it really been a year?Yeanling, Acrylic on Text on Canvas, 6″ x 6″

Acrylic painting by Leah Palmer Preiss of lambs & baby goats

Why yes, it has. And quite a year at that!

2020 has been strange, difficult, terrifying, at times surprisingly delightful, but above all, unpredictable. That makes me all the more grateful for one favorite tradition that has remained unchanged: my annual week of illustrations for A.Word.A.Day! Many, many thanks to Anu for inviting me into his wonderful world of words once again.

Our first word for the week is Yeanling, which of course brings to mind cute, frisky baby goats & lambs, springtime, & a freshly blossoming… pandemic!? Coincidentally the background text included definitions for “year,” so I couldn’t resist tweaking it a bit to reflect this particular year. I had thought it would be fun to hide a few Easter eggs in the background, along with other youthful fauna of various species, but as I sketched, those too began to get a little weird!

Prints of this very odd painting (& the original while it lasts) can be found in my Etsy shop, CuriousArtLab.

I hope you all have found reasons to smile & ways to romp around a bit in 2020, despite its many challenges. I hope 2021 brings many more smiles & fewer struggles!

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

Acrylic painting by Leah Palmer Preiss depicting a kitten in a bird's nest

Today’s word for A.Word.A.Day is “Inquiline.” The word was new to me, though I did know about cuckoos laying eggs in other birds’ nests (thus the derivation of “cuckold”). My first few sketches went in that direction, but then a cat jumped into the picture, & I was helpless to resist. I like to think this kitty just likes to hang out with the chicks & eat worms… but still, if I were Mama Bird I don’t think I’d appreciate it much.

This painting & prints (which may be customized with a message of your choice) are available in my Etsy Shop, Curious Art Lab.

Bright New Words!Fulgor, Acrylic on Text on Canvas, 6″ x 6″

Painting by Leah Palmer Preiss depicting a glowing phoenix rising from the ashes

It’s time once again for my yearly illustrations for A.Word.A.Day! As usual, Anu offered me a wonderfully inspiring selection of words, beginning this time with Fulgor.

As soon as I began sketching, a bird appeared on the paper, & it quickly became a phoenix. rising from the ashes. The banner it is holding reads “Fulgor ex favilla” (Splendor from the ashes, inspired by “Resurget ex favilla” from the Lacrimosa.)

This painting is SOLD but prints (which may be customized with a message of your choice) are available in my Etsy Shop, Curious Art Lab.

Leaping Lizard! Xeric, Acrylic Painting on text on canvas, 6x6" by Leah Palmer Preiss

Xeric Final 1

Thursday’s word for A.Word.A.Day is “xeric.” I was born in Texas, so I had no trouble envisioning cacti & lizards, but to get them to form the letter X, I needed an acrobatic member of the lizard family. Luckily the collared lizard fulfilled that requirement with elan. The cactus is (very loosely) based on the xique-xique of Brazil. I doubt the two species ever share the same natural habitat, but I never claimed to be a realist!

Painting all those little scales & spines wasn’t quick or easy, but it put me into a sort of trance-like state. I imagine trekking across the desert would be a similarly ponderous & meditative experience. Unless of course you’re a collared lizard!

Xeric WIP

 

This painting is now on display at GreenHill NC as part of their Winter Show through 18 January 2019.  Prints are now up in my Etsy shop! 

Kludge Acrylic Painting on text on canvas, 6x6" by Leah Palmer Preiss

Kludge, Acrylic painting by Leah Palmer Preiss of a kea (parrot) interacting with a curiously haphazard construction. Wednesday’s word, “kludge,” was new to me when Anu offered it, but I took to it right away. It seems so onomatopoetic, somehow, & so useful to describe the mess that results when you just have to grab whatever is at hand & do the best you can.

Despite my fondness for the word I ran into trouble immediately– it’s quite a modern coinage, so none of my antique dictionaries included it. In true kludge fashion I’d be forced to wrangle it in somehow. I decided to do it inelegantly, à la ransom note, with letters sourced from old circus posters. The definition I snagged shamelessly from Anu’s email. Now, how to illustrate it? My mind went first to circuit boards, then to Rube Goldberg machines. (And both of those sidetracks remain faintly visible, like palimpsests, in the background.) But I wanted something alive in there.

That’s when being bird-brained came in handy! I was thinking about crows & how they are able to improvise tools, so I started researching “bird intelligence.” And there, like a gift from the Kludge gods, arose the magnificent kea.

Not only is it reputed to be the most intelligent bird on earth, it’s quite a handsome creature, & the only bird thought to exhibit contagious laughter. What’s not to love? It even has the consideration to begin with K! Moreover, its penchant for creative mischief has driven the humans who have invaded its territory to kludge a device to distract it from meddling with everything man-made in the vicinity, including traffic cones. Thus was born the kea gym, a variation of which forms the letter “K” in this curiotype.

I’m not sure where all the red paint splatters came from… it’s not like my studio floor looks like that or anything. Ahem. Anyway, as I was about to say, Kludge turned out to be the most troublesome, yet the most fun of all this week’s words. And of course you can find the painting & prints in my Etsy shop!

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