Henry Miller on Perspective, Acceptance, and the Beauty of Making Art

Kate Powell

“I tried to draw my soul but all I could think of was flowers” by Kate Powell

“When you put your mind to such a simple, innocent thing, for example, as making a watercolour, you lose some of the anguish which derives from being a member of a world gone mad. Whether you paint flowers, stars, horses or angels you acquire respect and admiration for all the elements which go to make up our universe. You don’t call flowers friends, stars enemies, or horses Communists, and angels Fascists. You accept them for what they are and you praise God that they are what they are. You desist from improving the world or even yourself. You learn to see not what your want to see but what is. And what is is usually a thousand times better than what might be or ought to be.

“If we could stop tampering with the universe we might find it a better world than we think it to be. After all, we’ve only occupied it a few hundred million years, which is to say that we are just beginning to get acquainted with it. And if we continue another billion years there is nothing to assure us that we will eventually know it. In the beginning as in the end, it remains a mystery. And the mystery exists or thrives in every smallest part of the universe. It has nothing to do with size or distance, with grandeur or remoteness. Everything hinges upon how you look at things.”

~ Henry Miller, ‘The Angel Is My Watermark’, Stand Still Like the Hummingbird


Image: “I tried to draw my soul but all I could think of was flowers” by artist Kate Powell.



  1. […] Equally, when making art—no matter the medium—consistency is key. Even if your life leaves little room for your creative expression, the most humble act can create a shift in mindset, and also prime your brain for inspiration, giving you the subconscious cue you need to start working. Carrying a notebook for ideas for example, is the swiftest way to make you see more ideas. It’s as if the act of doing so magnetises you to them, and it’s the same with creative routine. […]

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