Tag Archives: Leah Palmer Preiss

Leaping Lizard! Xeric, Acrylic Painting on text on canvas, 6x6" by Leah Palmer Preiss

Xeric Final 1

Thursday’s word for A.Word.A.Day is “xeric.” I was born in Texas, so I had no trouble envisioning cacti & lizards, but to get them to form the letter X, I needed an acrobatic member of the lizard family. Luckily the collared lizard fulfilled that requirement with elan. The cactus is (very loosely) based on the xique-xique of Brazil. I doubt the two species ever share the same natural habitat, but I never claimed to be a realist!

Painting all those little scales & spines wasn’t quick or easy, but it put me into a sort of trance-like state. I imagine trekking across the desert would be a similarly ponderous & meditative experience. Unless of course you’re a collared lizard!

Xeric WIP

 

This painting is now on display at GreenHill NC as part of their Winter Show through 18 January 2019.  Prints are now up in my Etsy shop! 

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!

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

Eldritch Final 1

Tuesday’s word for A.Word.A.Day is “eldritch.” I have a bit of a Gothic streak, so this one definitely intrigued me. I sketched out the two ghosts & the background forest in advance, but as I painted over the dictionary text, I was additionally inspired by the alphabetical proximity of El Dorado, the legendary land of gold. I thought perhaps these spirits had been greedy in life, & had made their fortunes at the expense of others. Thus they are condemned to an eternity of obsessively striving to hold on to their gold, while it trickles endlessly away….

So I used metallic gold paint to render the gold dust, as well as their avidly glowing eyes. Unfortunately I didn’t capture that part of the process, but click here if you’d like to see a very boring, but mercifully short, video of me in the process of painting ghostly hair!

And the finished painting & prints are in my Etsy shop, of course!

To continue the theme of serendipity, while I was painting this I was looking for some ambient music to inspire me, & quite by chance the site I was using recommended a band called Palmer Eldritch! I thought their music was interesting, if a little forceful for the mood of this piece. Researching the band, I found they were named after a Philip K. Dick novel called The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, so I listened to the audiobook. Frankly, it wasn’t my cup of tea for many reasons, but it did explore some interesting themes.

You just never know where the rabbit hole of words will lead you. There may be many dead ends, but then again you may discover a golden wonderland!

 

Ring up the curtain! Velutinous: Acrylic painting on canvas, 6x6"

Velutinous by Leah Palmer Preiss

It’s showtime! Welcome to another week of illustrated words for A.Word.A.Day. As always, Anu offered me a wonderfully diverse & evocative selection of words, beginning this year with “velutinous.”

This one appealed to me instantly, as I’ve always loved the luxurious texture of velvet, & I immediately thought of cats with their velvety fur & their natural affinity for claiming the most voluptuous spot in the house. Not to mention their convenient ability to pose in an elegant V shape, complete with volute tail! (Yes, all those lovely V words appear in the background text of this painting, scanned from one of my antique dictionaries.) I threw in a few volute accents on the Victorian armchair in the background, just for extra visual rhythms & because I’m a maximalist by nature.

The original painting & prints thereof are available in my Etsy shop, Curious Art Lab. I’ll be adding more A.Word.A.Day paintings there as they appear this week, & you can also find past A.Word.A.Day words here.

And if you’d like to see work-in-progress pictures such as the one below, along with the occasional process video, please follow me on Instagram!

Velutinous Tassel in Progress

GreenHill Winter Show Gallery News

Acrylic painting by Leah Palmer Preiss of Indian and African elephants, alphabet letter X

I’m very happy to announce that I will have two paintings in this year’s GreenHill  Winter Show. Tonight (1 December 2018) is the Collector’s Choice Fundraiser, & tomorrow is the public opening from 2:00-5:00 PM. Unfortunately I can’t make it to the fundraiser, but I’ll be there tomorrow, so if you are in or near Greensboro, NC, come on by & say hi!

 

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

 

Dungeons & Dragons Dragon+ Cover Acrylic on text on canvas, 9" x 12"

Acrylic painting by Leah Palmer Preiss for Dungeons and Dragons Dragon Plus Magazine, Kupalue the curious Vegepygmy

When Shauna Narciso, Art Director of Dragon+ Magazine asked if I’d like to illustrate a “curious vegepygmy” in a fantasy jungle setting, you can imagine my reaction. It was truly a dream assignment,  full of hidden messages & tendrilicious details. If you’d like to read the story that inspired the illustration, as well as an interview in which I perhaps reveal too much about my working process, have a look at Dragon+ Issue 16, now online!

Nasty Nation Painting in progress

acrylic painting in progress by Leah Palmer Preiss. Pink cat dressed as lady liberty.. Pussy grabs back, women's march

This pink kitty may be dressed in classical garb, but she’s a punk at heart! It’s been quite a while since I posted anything here! But I’ve been busy. Mostly I’ve been posting work in progress, sketches, selections from my obsessive collections, & other such things on Instagram (you can follow me over there if you’d like to see more).

Lately I’ve been doing more political stuff than usual. It’s a form of therapy, more than anything else.

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

Advice-750-Leah-Palmer-Preiss

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-Fur-Detail-Leah-Palmer-PreissBunnipillar-Watch-Detail-Leah-Palmer-Preiss

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!)