Painting Poetry: 31 Ideas

A month's worth of ideas for painting poetry

Painting Poetry
"I Have a Rendezvous with Death" by John Quinlan. 11x14". Acrylic on canvas board. Photo © John Quinlan. Painted from photos the artist took Arlington National Cemetery, USA.

Jumpstart your imagination with these snippets of poetry. I suggest sitting with a sketchbook and doing thumbnails of images that occur to you from each piece, rather than jumping in with paint on canvas with the first. Spend at least 15 to 30 minutes on this, letting one thumbnail lead to another, to another. Think about formats (shapes and sizes of canvas), variations on composition, where (and what) the focal point is going to be. Then decide on a final composition and get painting!

31 Painting Ideas from Poetry

  1. "My love is like a melody"
    A Red, Red Rose by Robert Burns
  2. "A Door just opened on a street"
    #953 by Emily Dickinson
  3. "I have a rendezvous with Death"
    I Have a Rendezvous with Death, 1917 war poem by Alan Seeger
  4. "O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn’s being"
    Ode to the West Wind by Percy Bysshe Shelley (1820)
  5. "White pigeons rush at the sun"
    Three Spring Notations on Bipeds by Carl Sandburg (1920)
  6. "Experiment of Green"
    #1333 by Emily Dickinson
  7. "The grass sings in the meadows / And the flowers smile in the shadows
    Spring Carol by Robert Louis Stevenson (1918)
  8. "I wandered lonely as a cloud / That floats on high o’er vales and hills"
    I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud by William Wordsworth (1804)
  9. Frosty wind made moan, / Earth stood hard as iron, / Water like a stone
    In the Bleak Midwinter by Christina Rossetti (1872)
  10. "Sweater weather"
    Sweater Weather by Lisa Shields
  11. "I was ... not waving"
    Not Waving But Drowning by Stevie Smith
  12. "The ghosts the living would prefer"
    Seven Types of Shadow by UA Fanthorpe
  13. "The long day of the year is almost done, / And nature in the sunset musing stands"
    Thanksgiving by Kate Seymour Maclean (1880)
  14. "Draw no lines there with thine antique pen"
    Sonnet 19 by Shakespeare
  15. "A woman's face with Nature's own hand painted"
    Sonnet 20 by Shakespeare
  16. "I would be the pink and silver as I ran along the paths"
    Patterns by Amy Lowell
  17. "The long road is sleeping"
    The Way Of Perfect Love by Georgiana Goddard King
  18. "Rain of light"
    A Blind Woman by Ted Kooser
  19. "My hands are full of blossoms plucked before"
    Irreparableness by Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1845)
  20. "The grass is heavy"
    Considering the Snail by Thom Gunn
  21. "We all looked like goddesses"
    Friends Photos by Ruth Fainlight
  22. "Here there is no water only rock"
    The Waste Land Part V by TS Eliot
  23. "By the lakes that thus outspread / Their lone waters, lone and dead, / Their sad waters, sad and chilly
    Dream-Land by Edgar Allan Poe (1844)
  24. "Clutch of postcards"
    Leaving the Tate by Fleur Adcock
  25. "The horses watch"
    What Horses See at Night by Robin Robertson
  26. "The sun is mumbling"
    A Sight for Sore Eyes by Allen Curnow
  27. "Stars, in their orbits, Shone pale, thro’ the light"
    Evening Star by Edgar Allan Poe (1827)
  28. "The charmed ocean’s pausing"
    Stanzas for Music by Lord Byron (1815)
  29. "An old man upon a winter’s night."
    On Being Asked for a War Poem by William Butler Yeats (1928)
  30. "We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness"
    Auld Lang Syne by Robert Burns (1788)
  31. "The invisible worm"
    The Sick Rose by William Blake (1794)