Painting the Unseen

There is one aspect of #PathTwitter that we can’t get enough of and that is #PathArt! Colleagues from around the globe share the most beautiful images that can only be seen under a microscope. One form of #PathArt that we found both beautiful and intriguing is from Leonie Schön. You may know her as @lamellipodium on Twitter where she posts her #PathArt – but you won’t find images from a camera on her Twitter feed. Leonie’s #PathArt is created from a blank piece of paper, a paintbrush and a swirl of magnificent colors (along with immense talent and a love for pathology). We like to call it watercolor histology. We wanted to know more about the artist behind this watercolor histology (and thought you might, too). Without further ado, meet Leonie Schön.


Leonie is a first-year pathology resident from Germany. She studied medicine at the Universities of Bonn and Strasbourg and graduated in November 2019. She started her pathology residency in 2020 at a smaller institute in a city close to her hometown.


When did you begin painting?

I started painting at a local artist studio when I was about 10 years old until the age of 18. I learned a lot about different techniques and painted a variety of subjects including beetles, lots of candy and jellyfish. During the jellyfish-phase I discovered watercolors which became my favorite medium.


How did you begin painting histology images?

I was carrying the idea around for a very long time. It first sparked when I did an internship at a local laboratory while I was still in high school. I got to see some blood smears there and especially loved looking at artifacts. The idea then came back in med school in histology and pathology classes. I tried to make some paintings (one of them is an octopus composed of different tissues) but really never had the time to explore the idea fully because I was too busy being a student. After I graduated I decided to take some time off before my residency and travel, and we all know what happened in the spring of 2020. So I was given quite some amount of freedom and time and came back to the idea that had been in my head for more than 5 years.


Where does your inspiration to paint such beauty come from?

Sometimes it appears a little odd to me that I can see and want to show beauty when I am painting diseases. But for me this beauty is just obviously there. Many times when I see a slide, I get an icky feeling in my fingers and my head starts planning a composition. I love that pathology has this mysterious side to it - it is like another world that is in every single one of us, but we can only see it through a microscope. And it is like nothing you have ever seen before.


What made you decide to start selling your artwork?

When I started sharing my work I experienced the best thing an artist could ask for - people were really resonating with my art! They left lovely comments and shared my excitement for microscopic images. And they started to ask repeatedly if they could purchase my artwork in the form of prints. This is when I really started to look into the world of small businesses and saw all these amazing creatives creating stickers and cards with their art. There were also a lot of creators around certain topics in science so I decided to give it a try. It has been an amazing experience to share my work and ideas like this. I get to send my paintings and the products I make for people all around the world. I am so honored that my work is being gifted and is hung on the walls of great people working in pathology.

From an idea she had in her head for over 5 years to a thriving Etsy shop, Leonie is sharing the beauty of histology, the beauty she creates by hand, to bring fascination and appreciation to the practice of pathology. We are very appreciative for Leonie’s time in answering our questions. To see her artwork, visit her Twitter feed @lamellipodium or go to her website at https://www.lamellipodium-art.com/welcome.


Have you combined a special talent with your love for pathology? We want to hear from you! Just email Kristin at kmitchener@instapathbio.com to chat.


Built on the vision of better patient outcomes, Instapath was founded in 2017 by engineers and scientists to enable patients to immediately know their cancer diagnosis. Our team made it our mission to develop fast and easy digital pathology technology so diagnosis can be made in minutes instead of days. To learn more about Instapath and our technology, visit www.instapathbio.com or contact us at info@instapathbio.com.