Talking Paint

"Painting is silent poetry & poetry is painting that speaks." Plutarch

Artwork and Poetry ~ by Vivien Steels


Hello. I'm Vivien Steels and this is my website.  It features my poetry and artwork both separately and combined. Do stay and have a look. I will now tell you a bit about myself...

I live inside a Country Park overlooking two lakes with my husband, Ian, my cat, Mittens, and my rabbit, Shadow*.  I am an ardent lover of wildlife, which overflows from the Park into our garden.

I love art, both looking at it and being involved in it.  My favourite artists are the Pre-Raphaelites and I am especially interested in Native American costumes, culture, history and spiritual beliefs.

But I can't imagine not writing poetry.  I am primarily a writer and words are the most natural medium to me with art coming second.  There is a special drive within me to write down how I see the world around me and how I feel. 

Dreams are important to me and I always have a journal by my bedside so I can write down dreams I remember in the night as often they inspire poems, like 'Dreams of Peace' below, which is an apt theme for our times of war in Iraq, Afghanistan and the ever-present threat of terrorism.

* See Shadow's Story

**  Do please visit my new journal website Heart-Work. There is an entry on my Blog about my latest illustrated nature-inspired poetry book, *Bees, Seas, Birds and Trees*.














Colwick Lakes
Vivien Steels

Water forget-me-nots hug the shoreline round rocks.
The cobbled underbed of dark, dappled stone undulates,
latticed by wave upon wave of light and shade.
Cormorants, like besuited old men in clubs,
cackle, necks curved, and talk about old catches.
A drake, head indigo and shimmering,
drops pearls while shedding streams.
Moorhens stride jerkily by on feet too big -
road-running to snatch the last offered crumbs.
Sun cuts the lake's surface into diamond facets,
while whorled purple clouds soften the glare,
as the wind throws ruffles of silk
across the grey, marbled water.

The trout man - dull green jacket, speckled cap -
casts his silken line, fly-feathered, back
then forward to lure foolish fish
from friendly waters to an airy bank,
and an iron bar.

Published in anthology Immortal Diamond - Oct 1997, *Promise* - June 2003 & in Expose'd - Nov 2003  - Illustrated with original photograph of 'Colwick Lakes'


Dreams of Peace
Vivien Steels

Dreams hand out
armfuls of antidote
to that mixed-up mixture
restoring that which
waking tries to destroy.

A nightingale, brown dot
from an eagle's eye,
flies serenely through
summer's open window
to alight on my hand,
feet like whispers
trusting no fat cat
is here.

Then beak open,
unlocked out of love,
a melody soars
from a field of agony -
so fragile, so strong,
shooting stars into bright places
for a world that sleeps
and dreams of peace.

Published in Boloji - June 2006


I can remember my childhood vividly and this poem below is one of my favourites.  I was reminiscing about what it was like to be young and spontaneously enjoying the natural world around me. There is a yearning to be back seeing the world so freshly and I have kept all the memories clear in my mind's eye.


When I was Young
Vivien Steels (nee Gath)

When I was young
and the sea was stretched to full tide -
the waves dimpled and sang,
stars spattered like sparklers,
wind gusted, pushing and pulling,
falling over itself to trip me whilst running.
Life hung like a moving painting.

And the garden was complete
with jungle flowers found
by the first-time explorer.

Hill was mountain.
Puddle was lake.
Stone was boulder.
Grass was forest.

I was the centre of my universe
conducting creation with a shiny wand,
laughing at the freshness of a world
whose skin was thin,
whose flesh revealed,
multi-dimensional -
sharper in focus than any photograph.

My eyes clicked the shutter unceasingly.
Each image held pristine and positive.
Caught to be kept mounted in the mind -
to be opened when needed.

Published in Poetry Nottingham Vol 38 No: 2 - Summer 1984
Illustrated with 'Meadow' (detail)



Vivien Steels

The film of my mind,
running spools of memory,
unreels my childhood.

Published in Write-Away - 2001
& Panda 15 - 2003 (Me aged 3) 




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I can give readings or talks about my paintings and poems within the Nottinghamshire area. If you would like me to give a reading or a talk to your group or community, please e-mail me.  (Please note that I cannot contact you via My Guestbook.  Do e-mail me if you wish to contact me.)

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Vivien Steel's poetry, prose and artwork are protected by Copyright. All rights are reserved by the author. Requests for permission to use Vivien's poetry, prose or artwork in any print or electronic form must be requested in writing.