Holidazed and confused

Happy holidays! It’s been very busy around here. We’ve been remodeling our kitchen since September—so long, peeling 1994 formica! I’ve also been helping our son with college applications, planning for a couple of trade shows next month, filling holiday orders, and rehearsing for concerts with my choir—all while my husband and helpmate has been sidelined by a back injury.

So we don’t yet have a Christmas tree, nor have I done my holiday shopping. But last week I finally managed to heave our Halloween pumpkin into the woods, so there’s that!

If your holiday season has been as full of hustle and bustle as mine, you might appreciate some ideas for meaningful gifts. Makino Studios is offering free shipping on US online orders of $20 or more thru Sunday, Dec. 16 with promo code JOYFUL2018.

Humboldt folks, you can find these featured items and more at the Makino Studios booth at the Holiday Craft Market in the Arcata Community Center this coming weekend (10-5 Saturday and 10-4 Sunday). I hope to see you there.

Whether the holidays have got you merry and bright or dazed and confused, here’s wishing you all the best of the season!

warmly, Annette

P.S. My 2019 calendars, boxed notecards and small prints are also available at the Pierson’s Made in Humboldt fair thru Dec. 24.

On horrors, heroes, and a rescued kitten

 “forest clearing" is 5x7, painted with Japanese watercolors and sumi ink on paper. It is one of the new pieces in  my 2019 calendar.  A greeting card version reading “all is calm, all is bright” is available as a single card or set of eight notecards. © Annette Makino 2018

“forest clearing" is 5x7, painted with Japanese watercolors and sumi ink on paper. It is one of the new pieces in my 2019 calendar. A greeting card version reading “all is calm, all is bright” is available as a single card or set of eight notecards. © Annette Makino 2018

Perhaps it’s the dark times we’re living through, but lately I have been drawn to stories of heroes and rescuers. Like this New York Times piece titled “The Japanese Man Who Saved 6,000 Jews With His Handwriting,” which describes the work of Chiune Sugihara, who ran the Japanese consulate in Lithuania during World War II. 

Defying his government and sacrificing his career, he issued transit visas to Jews fleeing German-occupied Poland, writing as many visas in a day as were normally issued in a month. His wife would massage his painfully cramped hands every evening.

When he was finally forced to leave the country, he threw visas out the train window to refugees on the platform. The article says that more than 40,000 people are alive today because of this one man. 

He once explained, “I told the Ministry of Foreign Affairs it was a matter of humanity. I did not care if I lost my job. Anyone else would have done the same thing if they were in my place.”

The photoblog Humans of New York recently ran a series on heroes of the Rwandan genocide. I was especially moved by the story of a brave pastor who hid more than three hundred people in his church, saving their lives. 

An excerpt from his story: “The next time the killers came, there were fifty of them. All of them had guns or machetes… Every time I recognized a face, I called to him by name. I said: ‘When I die, I am going to heaven. Where will you go?’ … Some of the killers grew nervous. They began to argue amongst themselves. Nobody wanted to be the first to kill… And they began to leave, one by one, until all of them had run off.”

Most of us will never have our courage tested to this extreme. Day-to-day, our heroism may consist of nothing more than rescuing a spider from the bathtub. But when the need arises, we can step up however we are called. 

 Amelia and her friend Austin feed Renaldo with a dropper at two weeks old. (Photo: Maya Makino)

Amelia and her friend Austin feed Renaldo with a dropper at two weeks old. (Photo: Maya Makino)

For example, my daughter’s friend Amelia was out running last month when her dog alerted her to a two-day-old kitten abandoned by the side of the road. She took him home and spent weeks feeding him formula from a dropper every three hours, day and night. 

 Renaldo at four weeks, eyes open and ready for adventure.

Renaldo at four weeks, eyes open and ready for adventure.

Despite all her care, it was not clear if this tiny hairless bundle would survive. But now he is a healthy, curious five-week-old named Renaldo who is busy exploring his world. A world that includes its share of suffering, but also people who show great compassion and courage in times of need. And for that I am grateful. Happy Thanksgiving!

forest clearing
the tenderness
inside us all

Makino Studios News

Thanksgiving sale: Use promo code TAKE20 to get 20% off all orders over $20. Sale runs through this coming Monday, November 26.

Made in Humboldt event: You can now find my calendars, prints and boxed notecards at the “Made in Humboldt” event at Pierson Garden Shop through Dec. 24.

Holiday fair: Makino Studios will have a booth at just one fair this holiday season: the Holiday Craft Market, Dec. 8-9 in the Arcata Community Center. 

New holiday notecards: Check out my four designs of boxed holiday notecards!

2019 calendar: This 2019 mini-calendar of art and haiku makes a great holiday gift—and don’t forget one for yourself!

What the world needs now…

  “dappled day" is 11x14, painted with Japanese watercolors and sumi ink on paper. It is one of the new pieces in my 2019 calendar. A greeting card version reads, “in wilderness we find our way home.” © Annette Makino 2018

“dappled day" is 11x14, painted with Japanese watercolors and sumi ink on paper. It is one of the new pieces in my 2019 calendar. A greeting card version reads, “in wilderness we find our way home.” © Annette Makino 2018

It’s been a really tough week in the news. Twisted people have aimed to kill perfect strangers simply because they were Jewish, or black, or Trump critics. It’s hard to fathom so much hatred.

Against this backdrop, I appreciate my friends and customers even more. Because you are an exceptionally thoughtful and caring group of folks, you give me hope for our world.

As an artist, some of my most rewarding work has come in the form of commissions, most always as a heartfelt gift from one person to another. It’s truly meaningful to be invited into the story of a relationship, whether between mates, friends, colleagues or family members. 

This summer, a longtime customer in Virginia asked me to customize an existing painting with an original haiku. The finished piece, below, is a wedding gift for her best friend from college and his new husband. They got married at their home in a very private ceremony—with the only guests their two golden retrievers, one gold, one red. This is their poem:

kindred spirits
take many forms—
love is love

Here in Arcata, another devoted customer asked me to create a special piece for her husband to celebrate their thirtieth wedding anniversary. She explained that they met through their mutual love of contra dancing and that they also love hiking in nature. She shared that their life path has taken some unconventional twists and turns through the choices they have made. In the piece above, their version of the haiku reads:

this dance with you
the way the river
weaves through stones

  “kindred spirits" is 11x14, painted with Japanese watercolors and sumi ink on paper. A greeting card version reads, “lucky in love.” © Annette Makino 2017

“kindred spirits" is 11x14, painted with Japanese watercolors and sumi ink on paper. A greeting card version reads, “lucky in love.” © Annette Makino 2017

When doing a custom piece, typically I first talk with the customer about what makes that relationship unique and what they want to recognize about that person. Next I draft a few haiku options for them to consider. Finally, I paint the art and add the haiku.

My friend Lindsey Lane, after commissioning a piece for her daughter, commented, “The questions you asked me about my daughter were so insightful that you captured her essence in the first haiku you sent me. It is a lovely, rare moment that a mother's love about her child is understood so completely by another. Every time I go in her room and see the piece, I remember the day she opened it and burst into tears because she knew she was loved and understood.”

In the custom pieces I have created over the years, I have noticed that whatever the words and image turn out to be and whomever it is for, the underlying theme is always the same: I love and honor you. What a gift it is to be a part of such an exchange! 

If you might like to commission a piece for a holiday gift, birthday, anniversary or other occasion, I’d be delighted to hear from you. Because these days, the world needs love in every form it takes.

warmly, Annette

Makino Studios News

Raffle winner: Congratulations to Rebecca K., who won the raffle at the North Country Fair for $40 in Makino Studios store credit! The raffle jar will appear again at my next fair.

Holiday fair: I am doing just one in-person fair this holiday season: the Holiday Craft Market, Dec. 8-9 in the Arcata Community Center. You can also find my calendars, prints and boxed cards at the “Made in Humboldt” event at Pierson Garden Shop November 13 through December 24.

New boxed holiday notecards: I have two new holiday notecards coming off the press tomorrow, in addition to five ongoing boxed set designs. 

2019 calendar: My 2019 mini-calendar of art and haiku is now available online and in selected stores. The calendar includes an artist’s bio and some background on haiku and haiga (haiku art). These make excellent holiday gifts!

New single cards: Have you seen my new and updated card designs? There are holiday, birthday, sympathy, thank you and everyday cards.

Connecting: I always love hearing from readers. Thanks for taking the time to leave me a comment!

And finally: As you may have heard, there is a very important election this coming Tuesday, Nov. 6!  If you haven’t already, please make sure to vote!

The drama of our llamas

 “foreign land/ we become/ the curiosities.“ This painting is 11x14, painted with Japanese watercolors and sumi ink on paper. It is one of the pages in my 2019 calendar. A  greeting card version  reads, “llots and llots of llove." © Annette Makino 2018

“foreign land/ we become/ the curiosities.“ This painting is 11x14, painted with Japanese watercolors and sumi ink on paper. It is one of the pages in my 2019 calendar. A greeting card version reads, “llots and llots of llove." © Annette Makino 2018

Our family has had some unusual pets over the years, including a chameleon, a gecko, and a bearded dragon lizard. But the oddest animals by far were our llamas. 

As my mother approached her 70s, she still loved to hike and camp, but could no longer comfortably carry a heavy backpack. So she did the logical thing: bought two llamas and trained them to carry packs. Having lived in Peru for a couple of years in her 30s, she was more familiar with llamas than most of us are.

foreign land
we become
the curiosities

Soon after, she moved in with us to help take care of our young kids. And so it came to pass that two handsome male llamas, Shandy and Dancer, took up residence on our grounds. Though they might flatten their ears back and spit green saliva when aggravated, these long-lashed creatures were unfailingly attentive and protective towards our toddlers. 

I will always remember the time our very verbal daughter, sitting in her high chair, looked out at the llama pen and squeaked, “Dose llamas are looking at us dubiously.” I’m pretty sure that was the first time in human history that sentence was uttered from a high chair!

Once trained, Shandy and Dancer could each carry up to 80 pounds in their saddle packs. The easiest backpacking trip I’ve ever done was the one with our then-three-year old daughter in Northern California’s Trinity Alps, where we just wore day packs and pushed a baby stroller while the llamas carried all the gear and food.

following us
all day on the trail—
the mountain

But it was not all fun and games. Yes, there was some drama with our llamas. One day, Dancer got loose and ate a large part of a rhododendron bush, which is toxic to llamas. He started foaming at the mouth and we had to make an emergency trip to the vet. My husband and the vet stood together in the back of the pickup, trying to pump mineral oil down Dancer’s throat through a plastic tube. The poor llama twisted and swung his powerful neck, then spewed the contents of his stomach all over his rescuers. Thankfully, he survived!

In 2007, we moved away for a year and my mother decided to spend some months traveling as well. So after almost ten years with “the boys,” my mother gave her llamas away to some folks with a nice pasture. But they live on in the fertility of our garden, and in our memories. 

Whether they involve llamas, lizards or other critters, I would love to hear about your animal dramas!

“following us” was first published in Notes from the Gean 4:1 (June 2012)

 At four, my son leads our llama Shandy down the road.

At four, my son leads our llama Shandy down the road.

Makino Studios News

Free shipping this week: Get free shipping on 6 or more greeting cards through this Sunday, Sept. 30! Use code CARDFREESHIP.

9/28/18 UPDATE: PARTICIPATION CANCELED DUE TO RAIN FORECAST. Fieldbrook Art & Wine Festival: Makino Studios will have a booth at this lovely event at the Fieldbrook Winery in Fieldbrook, California this Saturday, Sept. 29, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

New cards: I’m excited to share with you a dozen new and updated card designs! There are birthday, holiday, sympathy, thank you and everyday cards. And you can also see my new art prints.

2019 calendar: My 2019 mini-calendar of art and haiku is off the press! The calendar includes twelve original paintings, an artist’s bio and some background on haiku and haiga (haiku art).

Custom Paintings: You can order a custom piece to honor a life passage like a birthday, wedding, or birth. I will talk with you to understand what is unique about this person in your life, and then create an original painting, with or without a haiku. Sizes and prices are variable.

Connecting: I always love hearing from readers. We can also stay connected via my annettemakino Instagram feed, Makino Studios Facebook page and @Ant99 account on Twitter

Turn, turn, turn

 "mouth of the river" is 11x14, painted with Japanese watercolors and sumi ink on paper. Based on a view of Moonstone Beach in Trinidad, CA, it is one of the new pieces in my 2019 calendar. You can see the piece in process below. A greeting card version reads, "infinite thanks." © Annette Makino 2018

"mouth of the river" is 11x14, painted with Japanese watercolors and sumi ink on paper. Based on a view of Moonstone Beach in Trinidad, CA, it is one of the new pieces in my 2019 calendar. You can see the piece in process below. A greeting card version reads, "infinite thanks." © Annette Makino 2018

Over the past couple of weeks, our family has completely shifted over to school mode. We now have a senior in high school, a senior in college, and a senior in the Over Sixty program at Humboldt State. Instead of lazy mornings, we dash out the door with shoes untied and breakfast in hand.

Meanwhile, nighttime temperatures have dropped into the 40s and the first maple trees are already changing color. It’s hard to say goodbye to summer, but there’s no ignoring the evidence: autumn is coming.

tilted axis
        we slide
                into fall

In the seven years that I’ve been running my art business, a seasonal rhythm has emerged there too. There is the joyful madness of the holiday season. This is followed by the January grind of inventory and accounting, a perfect combination of tedium and frustration. 

year-end accounting
the cat coughs up
another hairball

Spring means creating a new collection of designs and experimenting with some new products. Summer is a juicy, expansive time when I relax at the river with my family and go on week-long painting retreats. 

mouth of the river
an ever-changing story
told to the sea

And September is harvest season, when my best of recent work comes together in the form of a mini-calendar of art and haiku. It’s so satisfying to hold in my hand the culmination of the work I’ve done over the past twelve months, and to know it will bring pleasure to hundreds of others through the coming year.

mouth of the river-in process-1000 px.jpg

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven…” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)

With experience, now I know that seemingly fallow weeks will alternate with intensely productive periods. I know that once I survive the dreaded year-end accounting, I will get to create again. And that art-wise, the bittersweet end of the summer means the reward of “bringing in the harvest." So let me be the first to wish you a happy fall equinox!

revolving door
that autumn leaf
comes round again

("revolving door" is part of "Passages," a haiku rengay written with Bill Waters and published in Hedgerow #121, Autumn 2017.)

Makino Studios News

North Country Fair: The North Country Fair takes place in Arcata, California the weekend of Sept. 15-16, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. both days. This festive event features 170 art and craft booths, local food, three stages of live entertainment and two parades. I’ll have my newest work at the Makino Studios booth on G Street, plus a free raffle for store credit.

Fieldbrook Art & Wine Festival: Makino Studios will have a booth at this lovely event at the Fieldbrook Winery in Fieldbrook, California on Saturday, Sept. 29, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

New paintings and prints: Check out my latest paintings in the Gallery. And see the new signed art prints in the Prints section.

Sneak preview of 2019 calendar: You can see a few images of my mini-calendar of art and haiku online here. Orders will be shipped out the week of Sept. 17.  

Back to the source

 “lines of foam” is 11×14, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper. It is available as a  signed print  or a  greeting card  reading, “wishing you a sparkling birthday”. © Annette Makino 2015. The haiku "lines of foam" was first published in  Frogpond  35:3 (Winter 2012).

“lines of foam” is 11×14, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper. It is available as a signed print or a greeting card reading, “wishing you a sparkling birthday”. © Annette Makino 2015. The haiku "lines of foam" was first published in Frogpond 35:3 (Winter 2012).

My husband Paul once had a colleague from Nebraska whose father had never seen the ocean. When the dad came out to Arcata to visit, they went to the beach. The taciturn Midwesterner stood staring at the Pacific for awhile. Finally he said, “It’s bigger than I expected.”

Although I grew up along the California coast and walk on the beach several times a week, I, too, am amazed by the Pacific.

curling waves
the ocean too wide
for my viewfinder

It is not only unfathomably vast, but always changing with the time of day, weather, tide, and season. One day it can be a wash of gray from sea to sky, with barely a discernible horizon. Another day it can be so sparkling clear that even the wet sand shines blue. 

In this time of dismaying headlines and extreme political dysfunction, I find the ocean especially restorative. My lungs fill with negative ions and the sea breeze blows away my cares. Spending time here helps me to put our ridiculous human problems in perspective and to regain a sense of geological time. 

all the stars
in the sea
summer tide pool

 My dog Misha delights in running on the beach.

My dog Misha delights in running on the beach.

The beach is also where I find ideas and inspiration for my art and haiku, sometimes sitting on a driftwood log listening to the waves. The ocean where life began is an endless source of creativity. If you are fortunate enough to live near the beach, I hope you will grab a hat and get out there. Happy summer!

lines of foam
over and over the sea
writes its story

Makino Studios News

August Vacation: I will be on a painting vacation on the Klamath River the week of Aug. 4-11. Any orders that come in that week will ship on Monday, Aug. 13.

North Country Fair: Mark your calendar for the North Country Fair in Arcata, CA the weekend of Sept. 15-16! This festive event features 170 booths, live entertainment on three stages, and two parades. I’ll have my newest cards and 2019 calendars at the Makino Studios booth on G Street near 9th.

Raffle Winner: Congratulations to Pat Bitton, who won $50 in Makino Studios store credit at the North Coast Open Studios raffle last month! For a chance to win, look for the raffle jar at my booth at the North Country Fair.

Cards: Check out the Cards section of the Makino Studios site to find greeting cards for weddings, birthdays and more. And I’m working on several juicy new card designs this fall!

Just putting it out there

 “did someone say cake?” is 8x10, Japanese watercolor and sumi ink on paper. The original does not have words. The card is available  here . A haiku version may follow if I get inspired! © Annette Makino 2018

“did someone say cake?” is 8x10, Japanese watercolor and sumi ink on paper. The original does not have words. The card is available here. A haiku version may follow if I get inspired! © Annette Makino 2018

As I'm painting and preparing for North Coast Open Studios this weekend, I’m feeling excited about showing my art to the public. A painting doesn’t fully come alive for me until it is shared with others. And I love hearing stories from my customers and getting ideas from them.

But there is also a part of me that is feeling shy about the exposure—and not just because I’m an introvert! It feels risky to put my work out there for all to see, knowing I am far from mastery. I look at some of my earlier paintings and feel a combination of embarrassment and tenderness toward my less skilled former self. And I expect that soon enough, I’ll feel the same about my current work. 

I'm reminded of the New Yorker cartoon by Gahan Wilson that shows two gentlemen gazing at a child's awkward scrawl. One says, "Of course, it's a very early Rembrandt."

The other day I was listening to an all-Beatles channel on satellite radio that played some fuzzy recordings from their beginning years. I realized there was a good reason I had never heard those cover songs by the Beatles before—they simply weren’t very good! And yet, in those early years, the Fab Four were able to come up with some real gems, like “She Loves You.” Even if the song seems simple, the harmonies and catchy “yeah, yeah, yeah” chorus still convey a freshness and vitality more than half a century later.

 “bright eyes” is 11x14, sumi ink on paper. It is available as a signed print  here . © Annette Makino 2011

“bright eyes” is 11x14, sumi ink on paper. It is available as a signed print here. © Annette Makino 2011

Although I could never aspire to the greatness of the Beatles, I can also see a few flowers among the weeds in my early work. The “bright eyes” piece to the right, of my dog Misha, was one of my first sumi ink paintings back in 2011. Since I was just starting my art business, the enthusiastic response from the public was very encouraging.

Seven years later, I can paint dogs much more realistically, as in the watercolor above of my friend’s dog Sukie. And I know my art will continue to evolve and improve over time. 

I have to remind myself that an artist’s development is never “finished,” so there’s no point in waiting until my work is perfect to put it out in the world. All I can do is play and have fun with the process. And share it with my wonderfully supportive customers. So bring on Open Studios! Yeah, yeah, yeah!

bright eyes, wagging tail
the universe, in dog form
invites us to play

Makino Studios News

Open Studios: I will join artists Tina Gleave, Jennifer Rand, Amy Fowler and Araya Shon at the Samoa Women’s Club in Samoa, CA for North Coast Open Studios this weekend. We’ll be serving wine and appetizers tomorrow (Friday, June 1) at Art Night from 6 to 9 p.m. The main event is Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. There will be art raffles, demos of our techniques, closeout sales and refreshments. More details and directions in the Facebook event.

Cards for Dads and Grads: Check out the Cards section to find cards for graduation, Father’s Day (June 17), weddings and birthdays.

On Vacation: I will be away on a painting vacation on the Klamath River all of next week and visiting family the week after, so I will not be able to ship out any orders until Friday, June 15.

ukiaHaiku Festival: I’m happy to share that the following haiku won first place in the Dori Anderson Award for haiku about Ukiah at the annual ukiaHaiku Festival last month:

sun-baked orchard
collecting cherries
in my hat