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.

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