Paintings in acrylic, often with collaged text elements

Succulent words this week! Acrylic painting on text collage on canvas, 6"x6"

Succulent: Acrylic painting by Leah Palmer Preiss of a green monster resembling an aloe plant in a succulent gardenNothing is more delicious than a good, juicy word, & A.Word.A.Day provides one every morning. I’m honored to be illustrating for Anu Garg’s succulent site again this week, & especially delighted to be given this word this year. In June we visited The Huntington Botanical Gardens in San Marino, California, & saw the most astonishing collection of succulents there in the Desert Garden. My East-Coast eyes couldn’t get enough of their curious shapes & colors. There were a number of lizards enjoying the landscape as well, & I would not have been very surprised if an aloe-esque creature like this “S”-shaped fellow had appeared in one of the beds. Even an alien or a dinosaur would have seemed right at home!

(By the way, the Desert Garden is just one of many, & we were so entranced by all of them that we barely had time to pop into the Library at the end of the day before it closed– which was a pity, because their collection of rare books & manuscripts is as spectacular as the collection of plants.)

Original sold but prints still available in my Etsy shop, Curious Art Lab.

Advice from a Bunnipillar Acrylic on text collage on canvas, 12"x9"


I thought I’d posted this painting when I finished it last summer, but it appears I never did! I’m glad Illustration Friday’s topic this week was “smoke” because it made me think of this hookah “smoking” white rabbit/caterpillar chimera. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is one of my all-time favorite books, so much so that “Curiouser & curiouser!” is the motto I’ve painted on my studio door.


Bunnipillar-Hookah-Detail-Leah-Palmer-PreissEnchanted Spot

p.s. Above are a few in-process shots from my Instagram account. The last photo shows the cover of Enchanted, published by Out of Step Books, which includes this painting as part of a large collection of folk, fairy tale & Wonderland illustrations (& tattoo art!) 

Infinite Monkey Acrylic painting on text collage on canvas, 6"x6"

Infinite Monkey, acrylic painting by Leah Palmer Preiss of Shakespearean monkey with typewriter

Happy Year of the Monkey! In honor of the 2016 Chinese New Year, Shakespeare, the infinite monkey theorem, & antique typewriters, here’s the Infinite Monkey himself, complete with a background text from Henry IV Part 2: “Ah, you sweet little rogue, you. Alas, poor ape, how thou sweatest!” (Yes, I know the theorem usually refers to Hamlet, but who could resist that line?)

I happen to have been born in a year of the monkey (never mind which), & even though I don’t put much stock in horoscopes, I can’t help but find it delightful that nearly every description of the monkey personality includes the word “curious!”

This particular monkey is available in my Etsy shop, & also makes a fitting companion to last year’s Counting Sheep!

By the way, the typewriter in this painting was modeled on one that came with our house (which was built in 1927.) One of the many reasons I knew it was the right house for us!


Magic, Words! Acrylic painting on text collage on canvas, 6"x6"

Acrylic painting by Leah Palmer Preiss: A wizard in purple robes holds a mysterious scroll

It’s that magical time of year again– when I get to share my illustrations for that wizard of words, Anu Garg, & his fount of esoteric etymological lore, A.Word.A.Day! How appropriate that we begin this year with Gramarye. I first encountered the word as a child, reading T.H. White’s Arthurian series, The Once and Future King, & ever since it evokes warm memories of those books, so when Anu offered it as a possibility, I knew immediately that I wanted to illustrate it. I felt the image needed some magical letters in addition to the letter “G” formed by the art, so I researched magical alphabets & did my best to “spell” out a secret message using one of the most popular. Do you have the magical powers to interpret this gramarye?

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?