Tag Archives: Curiotype

Kludge Acrylic Painting on text on canvas, 6x6" by Leah Palmer Preiss

Kludge, Acrylic painting by Leah Palmer Preiss of a kea (parrot) interacting with a curiously haphazard construction. Wednesday’s word, “kludge,” was new to me when Anu offered it, but I took to it right away. It seems so onomatopoetic, somehow, & so useful to describe the mess that results when you just have to grab whatever is at hand & do the best you can.

Despite my fondness for the word I ran into trouble immediately– it’s quite a modern coinage, so none of my antique dictionaries included it. In true kludge fashion I’d be forced to wrangle it in somehow. I decided to do it inelegantly, à la ransom note, with letters sourced from old circus posters. The definition I snagged shamelessly from Anu’s email. Now, how to illustrate it? My mind went first to circuit boards, then to Rube Goldberg machines. (And both of those sidetracks remain faintly visible, like palimpsests, in the background.) But I wanted something alive in there.

That’s when being bird-brained came in handy! I was thinking about crows & how they are able to improvise tools, so I started researching “bird intelligence.” And there, like a gift from the Kludge gods, arose the magnificent kea.

Not only is it reputed to be the most intelligent bird on earth, it’s quite a handsome creature, & the only bird thought to exhibit contagious laughter. What’s not to love? It even has the consideration to begin with K! Moreover, its penchant for creative mischief has driven the humans who have invaded its territory to kludge a device to distract it from meddling with everything man-made in the vicinity, including traffic cones. Thus was born the kea gym, a variation of which forms the letter “K” in this curiotype.

I’m not sure where all the red paint splatters came from… it’s not like my studio floor looks like that or anything. Ahem. Anyway, as I was about to say, Kludge turned out to be the most troublesome, yet the most fun of all this week’s words. And of course you can find the painting & prints in my Etsy shop!

Quaggy Ecology Acrylic on text on canvas, 6" x 6"

Acrylic painting by Leah Palmer Preiss of blue heron with fish in wetlands    My parents live by a pond (with very quaggy edges) & for a while they were regularly visited by a magnificent great blue heron. So when Anu gave me this word, I instantly thought of “Oscar” (as he was named by my grandmother, though I’m not sure why). I doubt Oscar ever landed a fish as large as this, nor could his neck bend in quite such a conveniently Q-like fashion, but he was an intrepid fisherman & a gorgeous creature, so this is my tribute to his majestic beauty. North Carolina (where most of my family lives) is the home of wonderful wetlands. As with many such areas across the country, they are very much in danger from over-development, so I thought of this dilemma often as I was painting this. Let’s hope generations to come will still be able to experience the wonder & awe I felt when Oscar came to visit. 

Acrylic painting in progress by Leah Palmer Preiss, great blue heron head, miniature painting detail

Acrylic painting in progress by Leah Palmer Preiss, miniature fish detail

 

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

Ostentatious: acrylic cat painting by Leah Palmer Preiss. A cat dressed to excess in red carpet finery.

Appropriately enough for the grand finale of my week on A.Word.A.Day, here’s an ostentatious feline showing off her most opulent finery as she slinks down the red carpet to the opera. If her over-the-top style looks a bit familiar, maybe it’s because of a certain bird with a similar fondness for white furs & flamboyant feathers. Birds (& cats) of a feather flock together, & it tickles me that the two side by side spell out “NO!”

Thanks once again to Anu for another year of wonderful words. I’m already looking forward to 2017!

Original & prints in my Etsy shop.

 

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.

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?

& Now… A New Curiotype Ampersand! Digital Illustration (Photoshop)

Curiotype Ampersand Digital Art by Leah Palmer PreissI have a real thing for ampersands. In fact I chose the font for this site in part because the italic ampersand gives me a tiny tendril-loving thrill every time I see it. :-) (& & & & &…. do you feel it too?) So when someone asked if I had an ampersand to go with my original Curiotype Alphabet, I was more than delighted to add one! I may yet give it a bit more tweaking but here’s what I’ve come up with so far.

The ampersand, by its very nature, brings things together– not only as a conjunction but as a letterform. Its original shape was derived from a calligraphic intertwining of the letters “e” & “t” (“et” is Latin for “and”)– although many modern versions take the basic shape & run with it to a nearly unrecognizable direction. That’s one of the things I love about the ampersand– it’s a chance for a calligrapher or type designer to throw caution to the wind & really play with form.

So I thought it was only right that there should be a pair of creatures involved in this Curiotype. And given my love of ampersands & the proximity of Valentine’s Day, I figured they should be rather taken with one another.

Stay tuned for more Curiotype developments AND more Valentine’s goodness! In the meantime I hope you are enjoying your new year & everything that comes with it!

edit: Now available as an ACEO-sized print in my Etsy shop!

Free Goodies for SPX! Curiotype stickers & more!

SPX stuff

I’ve been coming up with a bundle of new stuff to share at SPX. If you’re coming please be sure to stop by my table! (I’ll be at D8-9a with Isaac Cates & Sam Wolk.) Please drop by early so you can grab the Curiotype initial of your choice!

Oh p.s. you will be able to spot me by my hat. C|:-)

Also, I will be unveiling prints of the full painting these details came from!

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

This painting was created for A Word A Day, back in 2011, when I’d just begun my curiotype alphabet of AWAD words. It makes me nostalgic to think of those days, now that I’ve completed all 26 letters… but the wonderful thing is that I get to begin all over again! Thanks so much to Anu Garg for inviting me back!

Redolent in my Etsy shop