Talking Paint

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

Artwork and Poetry ~ by Vivien Steels

My Biography

Why I Write
"Ultimately I believe wordcraft (and paintcraft) is a spiritual gift and although I must have faith in my ability to use words in the best possible way that I can, I am thankful for loving the use of words when trying to interpret and convey how I see, hear, smell, taste and feel the world around me, as well as the mystery of that which is unseen."
© Vivien Steels
(extract from article 'Why I Write' - published in Write-Away - Spring 2001)

Brief Biography - Vivien Steels 
I live in Nottingham and graduated from Reading University in 1974 (with a B.Ed. [Hons] in English Literature and Education). Retired from teaching/lecturing due to the illness M.E./CFS, I write (mainly) poetry (but also short stories and articles) and paint in watercolours/acrylics. I have been published widely with over 270 poems in poetry presses and magazines (including Envoi, The Frogmore Papers, Smiths Knoll, IOTA, Panda, Rain Dog, CPR International, Poetry Nottingham, Poetry Monthly, Countryside Tales, Orbis, Carillon, The New Cauldron, Wordshare, Amber Silhouettes, Purple Patch, Weyfarers, ImageNation, Reflections, Quantum Leap, Peace and Freedom Press, Poetry Cornwall, Solo Survivors, Moonstone, South, Fire, Tree Spirit, The Coffee House, Earth Love, Decanto, Curlew, Magnapoets, Krax and First Time) and in anthologies Butterfly Away (Magnapoets Series 3), Many Windows (Magnapoets Series 4), Forward Press Poets 2008, Aspects of Love, Love Poetry, Love is Eternal, Expressions from the Heart of England, Bright Voices, Easter Inspirations, Daily Reflections, A Time of Reflection, Animals Antics, 101 Poets for a Cornish Assembly [Boho Press] and Story Time Rhymes - A Collection of Story Poems and Short Stories. 

Also I have many poems on the Internet (plus artwork) with ongoing local exhibitions of my paintings and illustrated poetry. I was a regular contributor and poetry reviewer for the online poetry magazine WAH (formerly Write-Away founded by Sue Tordoff). I was the Poetry Editor for WAH during 2005/6.

In 2008 I re-designed my website,"Talking Paint", which won the Quill and Parchment Website Award for Excellence in Poetry and Prose that year.  In November 2010 I produced my fifth collection of illustrated poems, *Winter White*.  I have recently produced a sixth collection of prose and poetry, a memoir, entitled *Into the Past*.  I have been a member of various writers-groups since 1977 and join in poetry/writing events. I attended a Writers' Workshop at the Writers' Studio in Nottingham in the first half of 2009. I finished studying for a Course in Creative and Professional Writing at Nottingham University in July 2010 and received a Distinction. I have just joined New Writers UK, where you can see my webpage. I have just finished writing my first novel and have started a sequel.  I have now produced my seventh collection of illustrated poems, *Bees, Seas, Birds and Trees*. You can see the cover on my Blog at my Heart-Work website.

*Promise* - First collection of my colour illustrated poems Vivi*Press - 2003
*Mandala* - Second collection of poems/colour illustrations Vivi*Press - 2004
*Secrets* - Third collection of poems and colour illustrations Vivi*Press - 2006
*Home from Home* - Fourth collection of my poems Vivi*Press - 2008             

*Winter White* - Fifth collection of poems/colour illustrations Vivi*Press - 2010

*A Memoir: *Into the Past* - My sixth illustrated collection Vivi*Press - 2012

Latest: *Bees, Seas, Birds and Trees' - My seventh collection Vivi*Press - 2016

** *Ferne and Chocolate and The Rollercoaster Rainbow and Other Stories* - (DayGlo Books Ltd) - July 2015

Ten Days One Summer - CAT WORLD ANNUAL - 1995
Look Back Again - COLWICK PARK WILDLIFE MAGAZINE No: 16 - 1996
Slaughter of Our Garden Birds - COLWICK PARK WILDLIFE MAGAZINE No: 32 - 2000
Why I Paint and Write - WRITE-AWAY - Spring 2001
The Garlic Dragon (Gisela's Story) - THE DRAGON CHRONICLE No: 23 Summer 2002
The Garlic Dragon (Lord G's Story) - THE DRAGON CHRONICLE No: 25 Spring 2003
The Art of Forgiveness - GENTLE READER Issue 29 - March 2004 &                         

April's Fruit - GENTLE READER Issue 31 - November 2004
Poetry and Dream Imagery - POETRY CORNWALL 11 - March 2005 and ARTISTS WITHOUT FRONTIERS -
March 2005
Endometriosis and M.E. - M.E. SUPPORT
  - 2006                                                   

The Copy - QUILL & PARCHMENT - January 2007
Comfort and Joy - THE PEOPLE'S FRIEND No: 7214 - April 26 2008                           

1966 and All That - Nottingham University Creative & Professional Writers Anthology 'Into the River' - June 2010  

From Chrysalis to Star Baby - COLETTE BARON-REID- Your Articles - August 2010
Life Inside - MAGNAPOETS Issue 7 - January 2011 
One in the Eye - SCHOOLYARD SECRETS (anthology) - November 2011
Crossing the Desert - MAGNAPOETS 9 - January 2012
The Referral of Mr Roberts - SILVER SCRIBES TELL TALES - 2013
Pet Tales (Shadow) - THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH/Lifestyle Section - 11th May 2014  

Makeup - SUBTLE TEA - October 2015 - January 2016

Recently I have had my children's book, 'Ferne and Chocolate and The Rollercoaster Rainbow and Other Stories' (with my illustrations) published by Dayglo Books Ltd, who specialise in books for children (and readers of all ages) with dyslexia - July 2015.  Also see the latest entry on my online journal, Heart-Work, for this book.

The Farthing Penknife - CARILLON Magazine Issue 46 - Autumn/Winter 2016

Wings - CARILLON Magazine Issue 47 - Spring 2017

Were There Mountains in Rhodes? - CARILLON Magazine Issue 48 - Summer 2017

* First Prize - FAME Writing Competition (Portrait with a Pen) with Castle Museum and Art Gallery, Nottingham linked with an Andy Warhol Exhibition 29th Mar - 14th July 2002                                                                                                                 

* Finalist - SILVER SCRIBES Short Story Competition 2013 (anthology of 20 stories) - New Writers UK & prize-giving at Gedling Book Festival 14th July 2013

* Second Prize - LOWDHAM BOOK FESTIVAL 2000 Poetry Competition
* Runner up - D H LAWRENCE Poetry Competition ? April 2005 & Poetry Pamphlet Competition 2012 - Thynks Publications

Website Award:
* Quill and Parchment Website Award for Excellence in Poetry and Prose 2008 for my "Talking Paint" website

* Art for Life Gallery, Sherwood, Nottingham - February/March 2003 (Local Artists)
* West Bridgford Library - 'Talking Paint' exhibition of 40 paintings + 40 poems illustrated with artwork from 2nd - 28th June 2003
* View from the Top, Waterstones, Nottingham - ILLUMINATING ILLUSTRATORS
exhibition from 17th April - 9th May 2008

Recent Exhibitions:
* The Leading Imagery Gallery, Clay Cross, Derbyshire S45 9DZ - selected paintings, illustrated poems, poetry books and cards from 5th July - 2nd August 2010.                  

**  Extended until 26th September 2010 with a special Open Evening on Thursday 26th August 6-8pm.

Lowdham Winter Festival - Poetry Books and Artwork, Cards and Prints - Saturday 3rd March 2012 from 10.30am - 4.30pm

* In 2012 I adjudicated the OMEGA (Oxfordshire ME Group for Action) Poetry Competiton 'Poetry from the Bed'.  ME Awareness Day was on 12th May 2012 and an Art Installation representing severe ME and Poetry Exhibition was held at the Magic Cafe, Magdalen Street in Oxford for the whole of the month.  I was to be giving out the prizes to the winning poets on the 12th May, but sadly wasn't well enough to go.  I had two illustrated poems about ME on display - 'So You Have ME' and 'A Fashionable Disease' - and some of my poetry books were on sale. 

An anthology entitled 'Poetry from the Bed: Life with ME/CFS' containing the winning poems (with my comments), plus more by OMEGA ME sufferers is available at Amazon.  It is a brilliant anthology and highlights ME in a very creative way.

* Gedling Book Festival at Arnot Hill Park, Arnold, Nottingham was held from Friday 12th to Sunday 14th July 2013.  I had a stall with my Poetry Books, Artwork, Cards and Prints on Friday 12th July and on Sunday received a copy of the New Writers UK anthology 'Silver Scribes - Tell Tales' 2013 with the other 20 finalists.

Also at Gedling Book Festival 11 2014 on Friday 20th July

* 10th New Writers UK Book Festival and Fair at County Hall, West Bridgford, Nottingham on Saturday 25th October 2014.

* Gedling Book Festival 111  2015 on Sunday 14th June.


* I adjudicated the December 2013 Poetry Competition on the theme of 'The Blues' for Nottingham Writers' Club.  I wrote an article for 'Scribe' - The Magazine of the NWC' in which I wrote: 

"Poetry never ceases to delight me and I never tire of reading each individuals' unique way of seeing life filtered through their senses.  That uniqueness is the key.  Be original, be daring, be unusual - don't take the oft-repeated path, take that un-trodden path.  I would like to thank all the writers who entered the competition and I commend the three winners for their unique way of seeing the world around them."

Poetry encircles our lives
with a living garland;
a garland that breathes
its greenness into our souls.

© Vivien Steels
Published in *Mandala* - Vivi*Press 2004 & Reflections Issue 80



Do please visit my new journal website


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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. 

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Please respect that all the material on this website is copyright. It is made available here for viewing, but may not be copied, stored, displayed, published or reproduced for any other purposes without the express permission of me, Vivien Steels, the copyright holder.

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*  Website created and maintained by Vivien Steels.