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Pointy Invasion Warning! Painting in Process, Acrylic on text on canvas

Invasive-Process-Leah-Palmer-Preiss

It just so happens that the painting I’m working on is full of pointy elements, so once again I feel like Illustration Friday is reading my mind with their latest prompt! It won’t be long before I’ll be able to post the entire painting, but for now here are some process shots, gathered from Instagram.

 

 

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

 

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

Zymology-Leah-Palmer-PreissWhat could be better at the end of a long hard week in the lab than a nice refreshing craft beer? And hey, if you’re a zymologist, you can call it research!

Why a goat (aside from those elegant horns that conveniently help form the “Z”, that is)? Goats have a long association with beer– specifically bock beer– thanks to a regional German accent.

Quoth Wikipedia: The style known now as bock was a dark, malty, lightly hopped ale first brewed in the 14th century by German brewers in the Hanseatic town of Einbeck. The style from Einbeck was later adopted by Munich brewers in the 17th century and adapted to the new lager style of brewing. Due to their Bavarian accent, citizens of Munich pronounced “Einbeck” as “ein Bock” (“a billy goat”), and thus the beer became known as “bock”. To this day, as a visual pun, a goat often appears on bock labels.

That’s all the excuse I need. :-)

Meanwhile, back at the lab– Curious Art Lab, that is– I’ve brewed up some prints of this image for you!

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

Scandent-Leah-Palmer-PreissGardening is one of my favorite activities, but inevitably there comes a time each year when I start to feel like this. It seems one minute I’m blithely puttering along, & the next, absolutely gobsmacked by the rampant growth of our North Carolina Summers. No matter how I try, I can’t keep up, so I just do what I can & hope for the best. Even a ramshackle, overgrown garden is better than no garden!

I read quite a lot of gardening books, but I don’t recall coming across this word before. The moment I saw it on Anu’s list I knew just what to paint! And “S” is such a wonderful letter– it’s graceful & decorative even in its simplest form, & very amenable to play & elaboration, whether calligraphic or illustrative.

If you’d like to see this painting & its print offshoots growing in their Etsy habitat, I welcome you to a garden tour! {Original SOLD}

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

Klatsch-Leah-Palmer-Preiss  My name is Leah & I’m a coffee addict. Maybe it’s too many tight deadlines, maybe it’s just weakness of character, but I sure do love the stuff.  It’s probably bad for my anxiety & sleep issues… okay, definitely bad… but still, so delicious & uniquely fortifying! Around this time of year I follow the traditional coffee advent calendar: one cup on the first of the month, two on the second…

To add to its charms, coffee is conducive to conviviality. And it may be more than the caffeine that does the trick. Check out this intriguing study.

I was introduced to the “kaffee klatsch” in college, where there were regular gatherings in various departments for conversation & coffee (the coffee was abysmal but the conversations great). The word always made me think of “kitsch,” which no doubt influenced this image.

It was quite a challenge getting the “K” shape in there. I finally made it happen, more or less, with the four arms (or should I say wings?) connecting in the center.

For extra kitschy goodness, there’s a little snippet of lyrics from The Music Man hidden in there. Can you find it?

You are invited to join the party at my Etsy shop!

 

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!

Longma Golden Dragon Horse

Acrylic painting of Longma, golden dragon horse, by Leah Palmer PreissThis isn’t a new painting, but new to this site, & the process gif below is also new. It shows my technique with acrylic on paper fairly clearly– glazes, scumbles, details & highlights over archivally printed text. I painted this one entirely on the paper before mounting it to canvas, which is not my usual process, & usually the background doesn’t disappear quite this thoroughly, but otherwise this is pretty much how I do most of my paintings.

The subject is Longma, the Chinese Dragon-Horse. It’s still the Year of the Horse, right?

Acrylic on text scanned from Young People’s Natural History, 1901. Prints of this image are available in my Etsy Shop.

Acrylic painting process- golden dragon horse by Leah Palmer Preiss

 

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.