Paint Happy: Henry Miller’s Paris Notebook

Henry Miller Sketchbook Paris Diary

This image from Henry Miller’s Paris Notebooks is what is fueling my creative focus lately.

Created during the years 1932-1936, he documented everything he was working on: drawings, paintings, typed notes, ideas and resource material. Three volumes in total.

Makes me want to get out my watercolors – not my normal media for working in my sketchbooks.

paint on my hands = happy

Meanwhile, I’m switching things up a bit to paint first thing in the morning instead of write.

I’ve been on the computer so much with the editing of Sketchbooks, that getting my hands in paint is what my body, heart, and mind are craving.

I took a shot of this right before I cleaned up yesterday…as a reminder.

A nice effect of painting first thing: I kept going back to the paint table all day to add a little of this or that.

Henry Miller said, “Paint and you like and die happy.”


Pictured behind the Miller quote: one of my recent paintings (an extreme close-up of a section) in progress.

How about you?

Are you a writer who paints or takes photos? A visual artist who writes? A keeper of sketchbooks or journals? Do you write or work visually in your journals? Or both?

27 Responses to Paint Happy: Henry Miller’s Paris Notebook

  1. Julie July 21, 2015 at 10:12 am #

    I’m signed up for the Dreaming on Paper class, and I am very excited about it, the only thing is I can’t decide which journal sketchbook to use,,,,,,I’m torn between 2,,,,a soft covered lined notebook type that I have used as other journals….or a Canson mixed media plain page sketchbook that is 7×10. Do you have any recommedations which would be better for this class? I don’t want to start and then have regrets.
    I’m currently doing the 30 day journal project Flow….I love it,,I wish it went on forever,,,,the name is perfect because thoughts and self discoveries are just flowing out of me onto the journal pages. Thank you for having this project.
    Thanks for any assistance.

    • Lisa Sonora July 21, 2015 at 11:55 am #

      Julie – I think you’ll really love diving in to the workshop with your Canson sketchbook. Even though the workshop is just 4 weeks long, you’ll have a pretty well-used sketchbook by the time we’re done. You can always go back to using your lined journals if you prefer those. Use the workshop as an opportunity to stretch outside of your “norm” a little bit…and see what happens. So glad you’re joining us!

      • Julie July 26, 2015 at 9:05 am #

        Thank You! I will use my Canson sketchbook for this workshop, it will be a new experience for me, and sounds fun.
        How does the workshop run? Is something sent every day, or is it like an assignment you get every week and have time to work on?
        I’m excited,
        Thanks Again

        • Lisa Sonora July 27, 2015 at 4:41 pm #

          There are a set of lessons sent out weekly so you have time to dig in, play and absorb all the goodness.

  2. Kate August 14, 2014 at 9:43 am #

    I am a painter who writes and a writer who paints. Sometimes they blur together. I”ll paint a character I am writing about to get to know them better. My writing notebooks always end up having drawings in them and my art journals have words. I can’t separate the two.

  3. Robyn August 14, 2014 at 8:37 am #

    I am an art journaler and a written journal keeper. This 30 day project has helped me be okay with combining the two. I’ve also never done journal writing based on prompts (I’ve always journaled to vent, or record memories, work through issues), and I’m really enjoying how it makes me think a little deeper!

  4. Gwen August 14, 2014 at 5:07 am #

    I’m a life coach who paints, writes and takes photos so much that I’m not getting anything else done.

  5. Chris Fletcher February 12, 2014 at 4:43 pm #

    Hi Lisa and everyone,

    I just wanted to quickly share my 30 day journal experience so far.

    I have never been a big Tweeter but lately I’ve been using Lisa’s journal prompts to compose daily Tweets.

    I make a game out of it by editing my responses down to exactly 140 characters…and then Tweeting them. Its very satisfying>

    Thank you Lisa.

    • Lisa Sonora Beam February 12, 2014 at 6:05 pm #

      Chris: what a fun idea. can you copy and paste some here in the comments, for those not on Twitter?

  6. Judith Fine-Sarchielli February 2, 2014 at 8:07 am #

    tried to find Miller’s notebooks on Amazon. Hundreds of dollars! where did you find yours Lisa?

  7. Judith Fine-Sarchielli February 2, 2014 at 8:04 am #

    I am an author, writer, painter, designer. Would love to see Miller’s lover, Anais Nin’s original journals to see if there are any drawings or designs. She kept his soul alive for ages as dies self-expression for me. Loving your project Lisa!

  8. Susan Heffron Hajec January 20, 2014 at 2:59 pm #

    If I gave myself permission to read, paint and play more, I would. I am getting better at it.

  9. Susan Heffron Hajec January 17, 2014 at 11:37 am #

    I am a writer of creative non-fiction. I write special features, poetry, reflections and personal experience. I have been paid to serve as a colulmnist, feature writer, editor and photographer. I am a photo-journalist in my soul and purpose. I love to record life in photos and verse. I am inspired to play in art with artist mentors, like you, Lisa and I am grateful for the opportunity. Once I took a course, “The Painted Poem”, and I have a piece I dearly love from that and a wonderful workshop experience that still fills me with joy.

  10. Lynn Fisher January 15, 2014 at 9:39 pm #

    Thanks for the look at Henry Miller’s notebook (are they all illustrated?)…I’m inspired!

  11. Amanda January 15, 2014 at 10:07 am #

    I am a writer who paints. My visual journals always have words, as do much of my larger paintings.
    Thanks for sharing a glimpse of Henry Miller’s notebook. How very inspiring.

  12. sheila kalkbrenner January 14, 2014 at 7:27 pm #

    I am a painter who takes photos and writes. …on the side I like to do community action projects.
    When I am not doing those things, I am a grandma….and a Single Mom of three 20-something kids. Today’s prompt again brought up an on-going question for me…If I paint as I like, then how will I pay my bills…buy food?

    That part of it is stewing on the back burner but will be addressed again on my blog at a later date.

    I pushed through it and moved on to a more positive note: “If I paint as I like, then I will paint: _____. Under the pretense of “no worries” I came up with some really wonderful lists of things to explore this year. ….IN PAINT!!!!

    • Lisa Sonora Beam January 15, 2014 at 10:29 pm #

      Ah… the question of the ages! I consider it this way- if I only had an hour a week to paint – might as well paint as I like and enjoy it.

      Rather than not painting.

      Or not painting – or whatever your art is- while also pressuring oneself to make money or a living from that work which is still in the dreaming phase.

      Bigger subject for sure… my advice is to use your free time to paint as you like, for a good while, like a year or more, and see where that journey takes you.

      I wrote for almost two decades before I ever made money as a writer, for example.

  13. BJ Long January 14, 2014 at 5:41 pm #

    “Why not, what have I got to lose except regrets” BJ Long

  14. Lera January 14, 2014 at 9:47 am #

    I am a painter who writes. But since I’ve been going through this 30 day journal project I have been exclusively writing in my journal. I am living in a temporary space and 90% of my art supplies are in storage along with everything else I own. Journaling this way has been a wonderful experience for me because it has helped me learn to express myself in words. I’ve even written some poetry, which I haven’t done since I was in college.

  15. Max Daniels June 30, 2013 at 6:37 am #

    Ooooh! ME TOO with the watercolors!

  16. Kim Switzer June 29, 2013 at 11:30 am #

    Lucky WDS people! And Portland has turned on summer just in time for the Summit crowds to roll in.

    I have been making sure my sketchbook is out where I see it all the time, and I have been trying out ways to keep my favorite supplies together and portable to make it easier to get started. You are right, having all of your stuff right where you can get to it makes it easier to actually do your practice. Besides that, I’m finding it makes me really happy to see what I’m working on throughout the day as I go by!

    • Deen Teer June 30, 2013 at 8:18 am #

      I really look forward to working in my sketchbook. I am afraid I can work for hours:)

    • Lisa Sonora June 30, 2013 at 1:09 pm #

      Kim: are you in Portland?

      • Kim Switzer June 30, 2013 at 2:27 pm #

        Lisa, yes I am. And one of these years I’m even going to get to go to the WDS!

    • Maria Cristina January 14, 2014 at 8:11 am #

      That’s a great idea to see what your working on through out the day, thanks for sharing.


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