Imaginary Paint: Straight on till Morning

Nicole Van Fleet Kingery

Welcome to Imaginary Paint, where I’ll be showing my own original paintings and talking about the process behind them. Whether you’re an artist looking for inspiration or someone browsing the internet, you’ve come to the right place. Normally in this column, I’ll be posting current work, but since this is my first post, I decided to include a painting I made at the end of last school year called, Straight on till Morning (for pretty obvious reasons). My assignment was to take a poem from my teacher’s collection of poetry books and create a painting on the cover. The poem I chose was called “who knows if the moon’s” by E.E Cummings. The poem had very strong imagery so it painted itself. For reference, here’s the original poem which I glued onto the back of my painting when I was finished.


In the initial rough sketch, I had planned to include a younger brother alongside the girl in the girl in the balloon, but the balloons become too crowded and I had to change my plans. Also, I thought about having the same brother-sister pair on the hillside, peering into space, as if they were imagining the balloons in the sky. (There are just too many possibilities!) I ended up leaving the girl in the balloon and adding a trail of stars which I represented with smaller balloons powered by candles. The trail is supposed to leave the viewer wondering whether somewhere in that trail of stars there are more people living in balloons in the sky. Or maybe the girl is all alone? In either case, I envision the story with a happy ending!

Some of the other students in my class made it less noticeable that they were using a book as a canvas by painting over the spine or cutting off the spine entirely. I really enjoyed the color of my cover and the name of the book fit with the theme of my piece, so I taped over it while I painted in order to leave it visible in my final product. One more thing, in case you were wondering; this piece is made from oil paints. This is my first time working with oils because, although I do own a set at home, I know they’re tough to clean up and I tend to be especially terrible at cleaning. I’d rather stick to my water-soluble paints, thank you very much!