Tag Archives: Botany

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.

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}

Blue Carbon Based Flowers AlphaBands ~ C & D

Digital painting of bizarre blue flowers, Photoshop art by Leah Palmer Preiss

So… I’m cheating a bit here. I began this image in homage to Carbon Based Lifeforms, a Swedish ambient music band that is one of my favorites to listen to while sketching. Their music is mostly instrumental with wordless vocals, but lyrics do come in from time to time, such as these:

“Only illogics can find
Hidden flaws in a straight logic line.
Only erratics recognize
Errors in patterns of a perfect design.”

These particular lifeforms were of course heavily influenced by the work of Ernst Haeckel, with the central structure inspired by an allotrope of carbon popularly known as the Buckyball.

Unfortunately, some very erratic household chaos kept me away from the computer last week, so I missed my chance to chime in with the “C”s for AlphaBands. But as it happened, my choice for “D” was the bizarre alter ego of Kool Keith known as Dr. Octagon. Though his music could hardly be more different from CBL, (and, I should warn, it is mostly extremely NSFW) some of his color-crazed & hallucinatory lyrics somehow wormed their way into the picture:

“I come prepared with the white suit and stethoscope 
Listen to your heartbeat, delete beep beep beep
Your insurance is high, but my price is cheap
Look at the land…blue flowers!
Drawing by the purple pond, in the purple pastures blue flowers!
Drawing by the purple pond, yellow ink that flows blue flowers!
Drawing by the pond, look, it’s raining yellow” 

So, consider this the visual equivalent of a mashup. It’s just a pity that Buckyballs are constructed from hexagons & pentagons, with nary an octagon in the picture.

Photoshop with text scanned from Steele’s Fourteen Weeks in Chemistry, 1876

 

Heart-flower Hand-painted miniature, acrylic on paper in glass & copper locket

hand-painted locket, acrylic on paper in glass and copper locket, one of a kind art jewelry by Leah Palmer Preiss

Back in the day I did a lot of greeting card & wrapping paper art in the hearts-&-flowers vein. After a few years of that I had had about all the sweetness I could swallow. I called it a quarter-life crisis… & my art has been getting weirder ever since. Someday maybe it will catch up with the rest of me… then look out! ;-)

But speaking of hearts, flowers, & veins, this little anatomical-botanical curiosity popped into my head recently, & I thought it was a perfect candidate for occupying a small empty locket I’d purchased on Etsy. And to continue the wonky circularity (or should I say circulatory system?) of the tale, it’s now available in my shop!

It’s about an inch wide by two inches tall if you count the bail. The picture shows both front & back. The text was borrowed from an old dictionary.

BottleBlossom (Detail of larger painting) ~3" x 4"

BottleBlossom-LeahPalmerPreiss

Here’s another snippet from Dreaming– along with a bit of wonderful news: Cartozia’s Kickstarter was a great success– even exceeded the goal! I’m so glad to know that this inventive comic will be able to wander onward in its wonderfully curious way– many thanks to all of you who helped spread the word!

Vegetotem (Detail of larger painting)

Vegetotem-LeahPalmerPreiss

Yet another detail from Dreaming. The entire painting is 30″ x 24″; this part is about 6″ x 3″. You can see more tidbits from the painting here. I’ll be putting prints of the whole thing up in my Etsy shop soon. :-)

In case you were wondering, SPX was fantastic. It was my first con & I had no idea what a tumult of sensory overload it would be! So many amazing people, such a high concentration of creativity! It was a little dizzy-making at times, but a great experience overall. I’d definitely recommend a visit if you ever have the chance.

Shroomdweller Acrylic on collaged paper on canvas, 12"x6"

Shroomdweller-LeahPalmerPreiss

I’ve been working on this relatively small painting in between jobs for over a month now! I’ll probably tweak it a bit more yet, but I couldn’t wait to share it now that it’s finally coming close to what I envisioned. This mushroom, like its climber, is entirely imaginary, but it was inspired by various real species. If you are a fan of fungi in its many fanciful forms, be sure to check out this fascinating blog: When we die, we become one with the earth. Beautiful photos of some amazing shrooms!

The background engraving was scanned from The Practical Standard Dictionary, 1943; the borders were from an old map.

The not-so-secret message in the annulus refers to a series of books by Eleanor Cameron that I loved as a child. Working on this really made me want to reread those books!

p.s. This one’s dedicated to my friend Heather, an avid mushroom-hunter, & my father, a soon-to-be truffle farmer!

Edit: Prints of this painting (along with the original) are now available in my Etsy shop!