Art

Paintings, illustrations, curiollages &c.

The Motion of Plants Acrylic painting on text collage on canvas, 6"x6"

Motion of Plants, acrylic painting by Leah Palmer Preiss, leafy fantasy creature art

I was planning to post this image for Illustration Friday’s prompt “Ruckus” because the word immediately made me think of Festus & Mercury: Ruckus in the Garden by Sven Nordqvist, one of our family’s favorite children’s books. If you’ve never encountered this book, please get hold of a copy immediately! It’s a quirky, hilarious tale of an old farmer & his mischievous cat & their mad adventures in gardening.

This painting, of course, is a different sort of ruckus, inspired by my well-established love for tendrils.

I didn’t finish quite in time to post for “Ruckus,” but luckily it sort of works for “Outside” too!

The text comes from this delightful old book, a flea market find:

Seaside and Wayside, Antique book

 

Year of the (Counting) Sheep Acrylic painting on text collage on canvas, 6"x6"

Counting Sheep, Year of the Sheep acrylic painting by Leah Palmer Preiss2015 is the year of the sheep according to Chinese astrology– most say it doesn’t start until the Chinese lunar new year (the 19th) but others insist it begins today, on the solar new year. Happy new year whenever & however you choose to celebrate!

Maybe it’s because this is also the time of year when W-4s start turning up in the mailbox (when you’re a freelancer there’s a frightening amount of paperwork to keep up with), but when I started sketching out a sheep in honor of the coming new year, it decided to grow up to be an old-school accountant. (That ledger paper is actually how I kept my business records for way too many years. I am so very grateful to my brother Dev who finally enlightened me in the wonderful ways of Quicken!)

The figures on these particular papers, however, are years of the sheep past, present & future. And you may notice that the fat stacks of 100′s are also strangely sheep-centric (& in no way representative of my own cash flow, alas)!

The background text was scanned from an antique 8th-grade textbook, Iroquois Arithmetics. 

Prints of this image are available in my Etsy shop. {Original SOLD}

Oneiric Acrylic painting on text collage on canvas, 6"x6"

Oneiric-LeahPalmerPreissIllustrating words for Anu Garg’s brilliant site A.Word.A.Day is a dream gig for me. I’d been a devoted fan for many years before I began this project, & he always chooses such wonderfully evocative words for me to tackle!

If you’ve been around for the last few years of AWAD art, you probably know that I wouldn’t dream of doing a week’s worth of illustrations without including at least one cat. The word “oneiric” instantly made me think of a sleepy white kitty floating blissfully in the clouds, accompanied by some favorite… friends, shall we say?  It’s a peaceable kingdom in the sky! Round & round & round they go, conveniently assuming the shape of a letter “O.”

And of course they have drifted into my Etsy shop… come say hello! {Original SOLD}

 

 

 

The Juggernaut Begins! Acrylic painting on text collage on canvas, 6"x6"

Juggernaut, original acrylic painting on canvas by Leah Palmer Preiss. Golden dragon attacking city

Oh, you thought I was talking about the relentless march of the holiday retail machine? Nope, that’s last week’s news. Now it’s time to brace yourself for this year’s mighty, unstoppable A.Word.A.Day illustration series!

Today’s word is “juggernaut,” “a massive relentless force, person, institution, etc. that crushes everything in its path.”

Though the word’s origins lie in Hindu tradition, my thoughts went immediately to Godzilla, then back to earlier rampaging Asian monsters. A gigantic golden dragon could certainly destroy a city, while forming a fairly convincing curiotype letter “J”!

This painting & prints thereof are now available while they last* in my Etsy shop. So I guess now we’re back to the holiday retail theme. ;-) *Original art SOLD… wow, that was fast!

More A.Word.A.Day art to come! Tomorrow some kitschy cluckers clutching coffee. Can you guess the word?

Fallen Acrylic on collaged text on canvas, 6"x6"

Fallen, Acrylic painting of sad person raking leaves, gray and brown, Leah Palmer PreissDo you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder? I do, & at this time of year, though I love the colorful turning leaves & the crisp weather, I always begin to feel anxious & guarded, knowing the gray days & long nights are coming.

This painting was inspired by a song that perfectly evokes that feeling, “Rake” by Optiganally Yours. (I’ve just added archival prints to my Etsy shop.)

I love the wildly twisted Arabesque shapes & subtle muted colors of dead leaves, even though they make me sad. The text in the background comes from a vintage Russian algebra book. Not sure why this seemed right for the subject, but it did!

By the way, I’ve experimented with several methods to help stave off the SAD. The most effective seems to be a daily walk outdoors, no matter the weather, no matter how short. If I miss a day or two the gloom comes rolling in.

Scary Acrylic & ink painting on collaged paper on canvas, 7"x11"

Scary: Acrylic painting, Illustrated lettering of inspirational message by Leah Palmer PreissThis painting has been an adventure in itself. I’d originally created the design around a wonderful quotation, but alas, I was unable to get permission from the writer’s estate, & that took the wind out of my sails for a while. Then it occurred to me that I could make up my own message, so I was back in action! It isn’t as perfect as the original, but it gets the point across.

Just as things were finally rolling again, I had to put the project on hold for quite some time to finish a massive rush job. Such is the freelance life. But I’ve been able to get back to it at last & I think it’s almost finished! Though I’m considering offering personalized messages in the bottom scroll area where I previously had the author’s name & now have “Enjoy the journey!” Anybody have any ideas?

Gashadokuro, the Giant Skeleton Monster! Acrylic on paper, ~9" x 7.75"

Gashadorkuro, Skeleton monster acrylic painting by Leah Palmer Preiss

If you go down to the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise… Gashadokuro, the giant skeleton monster! This huge & deadly creature likes to bite off human heads. Its appearance is heralded by a ringing in the ears. (I think I may have had some close encounters after performances by loud bands.)

Some of you may recognize this painting from the AlphaBeasts project on Tumblr & my old blog Oddments & Curiosities. I’ve just added prints to my Etsy shop– Halloween is closer than you think! Let’s just hope that Gashadokuro isn’t!

Acrylic on an illustration scanned from my copy of Frank Leslie’s Chatterbox, 1880-1881, size of original~6.5″x7.5″ Look closely to see the poor, tiny unsuspecting human in the picture– at the moment he still has his head, but I very much doubt his luck will last!

Tinctures Sepia-tinted prints

Sepia print of bird from acrylic painting by Leah Palmer PreissI’ve recently added a new section to my Etsy shop, called Tinctures, where I offer digitally recolored versions of some of my most popular prints. I know not everyone shares my rabid enthusiasm for highly saturated colors, & to be honest, sometimes I’m in the mood for something a little more subtle myself! I do the recoloring in Photoshop, & I try to create a pleasantly muted effect without completely losing the color variations of the original– keeping just a breath of the original hues.

My word-loving friends may be curious why I call this series “Tinctures.” Though most commonly used today to describe a medicinal alcohol extract, “tincture” can also mean a tint or color. In fact it originated in Middle English, from Latin tinctura act of dyeing, from tinctus, past participle of tingere to tinge.

I like to think of these as coffee-flavored versions of my work! (Yes, I’m a java junkie.) What does that make the originals, I wonder? Fruit salad, perhaps?

 

Durga’s Embrace Digital Illustration (Photoshop)

Durga Digital Art, Photoshop illustration, Leah Palmer Preiss

On 11 February, my little sister Sarah suffered a stroke. It was completely unexpected– she is relatively young & extremely health-conscious, with no obvious risk factors. But the stroke was massive & for a time she was very close to death, in intensive care with many complications adding to our worries.

I’m very thankful to the doctors & everyone else at Duke for seeing her through this perilous time, & for all the support from family & friends. I’ve been spending many nights in the hospital, & have seen first-hand the hard work of all the doctors, nurses & therapists that collaborate to care for someone in this condition. And I see how Sarah draws strength from the flood of cards & messages from her students & fellow teachers, her friends in the environmental education movement, & the many, many others who care about her.

Sarah is an amazing person, & in some ways also very lucky. Though her left side is still entirely immobile, & for weeks she was unable to talk, she was able to sign the word “stroke” on her first day after the operation (one of her many linguistic skills is ASL), & she could also write much sooner than the doctors had expected. Better still, it was clear that not only had she retained her ability to think & communicate, but also her personality, which is full of humor & a strong streak of mischief, along with great curiosity & caring about the world.

One night I was with Sarah, helping her do some guided meditation to cope with pain. Sarah had traveled to India last summer, a life-changing voyage in many ways, & Hindu imagery was particularly fresh in her mind. She wrote on her clipboard that she envisioned the goddess Durga cradling & supporting her with her many arms, & asked if I would draw her a picture to help her focus on that image.

For weeks I had been so consumed with worry & care for Sarah that I was unable to bring myself to draw or paint– I had tried sketching once or twice, but my heart just wasn’t in it. But having that “assignment” motivated me to make art again, & I must say, it felt good!

Sarah moved from the hospital to acute rehab this week, & of course this picture is decorating the wall of her new room. She’s able to talk now, to joke with everybody, even to sing a little! Yesterday she stood (with assistance) for the first time. It’s going to be a long & arduous journey back to health, but I’m certain that, just as after her voyage to India, she will come back full of new insights & energy.