Poetry and Paint..a recipe for the soul

Collage of Life..the beginning here

Poetry and Paint...
Many years ago, I dabbled with poetry and paint. It seemed another life, those days living in Sydney, a time when I felt the call of New England (my roots) so strongly that the best remedy was to read poetry and think of how to translate it to something meaningful to me. Many paintings emerged, some to be forgotten and others remembered. Collage of Life was my first (above), in painting and blog.. here  The other is Winter Birch, below.

A collage of phrases from "Winter Birch"

You might be thinking.."but, it's white, where's the colour..and it is just lines, why lines?" There is a hushed silence to this piece, the kind you hear and feel when you are standing alone in the midst of a winter snowstorm...or maybe just after. If you have ever stood in the the silence of snow, near a grove of white birch trees or any trees for that matter, you might apprecaite the feeling. And that's what it is about, a feeling.

Winter Birch..in black and white
an ode to Thoreau, Frost, Emerson and Basho

When I am in need of poetry about New England, 

I also enjoy the simplicity of Haiku poetry 
and added one by Matsuo Basho...

You will see the highlighted phrases below in the painting above...

The finest winter day is a cold by clear and glittering one. 
There is a remarkable life in the air then, 
and birds and other creatures appear to feel it, 
to be excited and invigorated by it. 
Journal, January 25, 1860
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)

I love Nature partly because she is not man, 
but a retreat from him. 
None of its institutions control or pervade her. 
There a different kind of right prevails. 
In her midst I can be glad with an entire gladness. 
If this world were all man, I could not stretch myself, 
I should lose all hope. 
He is constraint, she is freedom to me.
 He makes me wish for another world. 
She makes me content with this. 
Journal, January 3, 1853
Henry David Thoreau 

The tree is full of poetry. 
Journal, July 16, 1852
Henry David Thoreau

I shall have less to say 
from Robert Frost, The Sound of Trees 
written in 1916, here

In the woods, we return to reason and faith
There I feel that nothing can befall me in life, 
no disgrace, no calamity, (leaving me my eyes,) 
which nature cannot repair. 
Essay on Nature, 1836
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

Winter solitude~
in a world of one color
the sound of wind.
Matsuo Basho (1644-1694)
Japanese Haiku 

Swirling in Emotion...
Fifteen years later, paintings swirling in emotion, are sitting in a corner of our barn at Tahilla Farm. Collage of Life, makes an appearance every now and again when space can accommodate it (it's big). Winter Birch is hanging in our barn, in a corner of the gardening room (more like a shed). 

This all came to mind today as I started sorting through our belongings for my journey back to Tahilla Farm next week (8 days). I came across one of my early art journals and you know how these things happen...one thing leads to another and there you are...writing about poetry and paint from Saigon.

A Recipe for the Soul...
If you have something on your mind and are hankering to get it out, might I suggest a little poetry and paint?  It is very simple. Buy one canvas or a few, prime with gesso, add a color of acrylic paint that you like (lots of it), think about the texture you would like to add to the painting. In this case, I added handmade paper that I created for another project. I have also done something similar with old strips of textured fabric and on another occasion, mixed paint with sand ( I like texture).  Add words, ones that have meaning to you. 

It's a process of layering, lots of it. Build up the paint on the canvas and add your shapes...paint and more paint and then more shapes and words. By the end you should have a textured surface that speaks to you and when it does, it will be just right. 

Little Book of Hope...
Not ready to commit to canvas and paint just yet? That's ok, how about starting with a journal? A place to store the words...until you are ready. I created a 'Little Book of Hope' here By far, one of the wisest things I have done in my journal writing life. It is now filled with so many, that I take it everywhere with me....for little words of hope as I travel. 

Take one notebook, add pen and write....

My little book of hope...

Adopt the pace of nature: 
her secret is patience. 
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Best wishes for an inspiring weekend!!

Jeanne xx


  1. Brava. I adore all of this, my creative friend.
    So happy you are not going to miss a New England autumn!

    1. Thank you Pamela...keeping fingers crossed for a bit of autumn... xx

  2. Spectacular post! Thank you for sharing your thoughts, art, and the quotes
    "Winter Birch," is beautiful.
    The woods in winter when its snowing, I think of as the sounds and feeling of being in Mother Nature's winter womb. Then a reality, life flashing by me like a snowmobile when I go back indoors for time to write a poem.

    1. Thank you so much Maywyn...I love your analogy...and the one about the snowmobile..kind of like everyday life. ;)

  3. Is this October the Sixth Year anniversary of Collage of Life which started with your wonderful painting, Collage of Life? CONGRATULATIONS.

    I like your White Birch, mixed media and text.Which is harder to do- painting first then writing poetry or writing poetry first then painting what the poetry means?

    “Every word was once a poem. Every new relation is a new word.” (Emerson)

    Do you still do watercolors in your iPad?

    "We are a merry little band of creative souls. We write, we read, we photograph, we draw, we paint, we ponder life and we express it in our own way. "

    Congratulations .

    1. Yes it is Edgar, you are a good reader! Thank you!! I found it easier to find the words and then create to the emotions the words evoke. I haven't painted in many years, but hope to take up the challenge again one day. I have created watercolour paintings of my photographs through photo Apps. on my iPad. There are a few I would reccomend. 'Brushstrokes' is my favourite. Thank you for reading along Edgar, much appreciated! ;)

  4. Jeanne...you are so talented...your painting is beautiful; do you still paint?
    I too have a little book of words I carry with me, I think I should call it my little book of hope...it helps me hugely from time to time. I love this post...I'm off to read some poetry by Matsuo Basho. Enjoy your Sunday xx

  5. I've never painted but I would like to try. I just lack courage because I don't feel very confident. Journaling, on the other hand, is an ongoing hobby and I love to do it. It keeps me sane.

  6. I'd love to try some watercolors, as part of learning interior design as I'm doing now. Your paintings are lovely - I wonder if you'll take it up again once you're established at Tahilla, with all that beauty and vista around you.

  7. Jeanne, this is so inspiring! I wish I wrote in a journal more often. When I do, I am always happy years later to read what I wrote. I have a file called "inspiration" and often go back to read my observations. It is so helpful! Thanks for this wonderful post. I am tempted to start painting now!
    xx Sunday

  8. Thank you for sharing this lovely post, Jeanne.
    Do you also read John Muir? He writes of his relationship with nature in a way that makes me hold my breath and then sigh with recognition.


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Can I just say....that I so enjoy what YOU have to say. If you would like to write to me directly, I would love to hear from you... jeannecollageoflife@gmail.com

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