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

Open Studios hot spot

NCOS 2018 flyer.jpg

Dear friends,

You are warmly invited to our artist hot spot at the Samoa Women’s Club, where five Humboldt artists are showcasing work during the first weekend of North Coast Open Studios. Participants include silk painter Tina Gleave, ceramicist Jennifer Rand, milliner Amy Fowler, watercolor painter Araya Shon, and myself, a Japanese watercolor painter. 

The main event takes place Saturday and Sunday, June 2-3, from 10 to 5. We are also hosting a special Art Night preview with refreshments on Friday, June 1 from 6 to 9 p.m.

In addition to artist demos, there will be original work for sale plus art prints, silk clothing, custom-made hats, ceramic ware, greeting cards, and more. We are offering special deals on closeouts.

Refreshments will be served at this free, family-friendly event. There will also be raffles with art prizes.

I believe that my art only comes alive once it is shared. Open Studios is a wonderful opportunity to connect with people one-on-one to discuss the inspiration and technique behind my art and hear stories of how it impacts others.

For more information about the weekend, see the Facebook event or call (707) 362-6644. We’d love to see you there!

P.S. If you can’t make it this weekend, I am also happy to host visitors at my studio by appointment.

Directions: The historic Samoa Women's Club is located between Arcata and Eureka at 115 Rideout Avenue in Samoa, a four-minute drive from the Samoa Bridge. From Samoa Boulevard, turn left onto Cookhouse Road. Turn right onto Vance Avenue, and then take the first right onto Rideout Avenue.

The college conundrum

 “open road” is 11x14, Japanese watercolor and sumi ink on paper. It is available as a graduation card reading “time to soar” and another version reading “Happy Father’s Day.” © Annette Makino 2017

“open road” is 11x14, Japanese watercolor and sumi ink on paper. It is available as a graduation card reading “time to soar” and another version reading “Happy Father’s Day.” © Annette Makino 2017

My husband Paul and I recently took a road trip through Oregon and Washington to visit potential colleges with our son Gabriel, a junior in high school. We gleaned what we could from the blur of campus tours, info sessions, and landscaped grounds dotted with blossoming cherry trees.

Gabriel talked with current students, joined the discussion in an English class, played tennis at a team practice, and tried the cafeteria food. (It’s come a long way since the mushy turkey tetrazzini of my freshman year!)

As a brilliant student and captain of his high school tennis team, he will have many options open to him. In some ways, that makes this pivotal life choice even harder. And the decision seems like a big responsibility for someone who has trouble remembering to bring his jacket home!

snow leopard
a brief sighting
of our teen

In any case, the most important aspects of a college experience aren’t quantifiable, like the student-to-faculty ratio or the number of Nobel Prize-winning professors. Rather, they are intangibles such as who you become over those four years, the lasting friendships you make and the foundation you build for the rest of your life. 

 View from the trenches: a campus tour of Reed College in Portland.

View from the trenches: a campus tour of Reed College in Portland.

As a curious nine-year old, Gabriel introduced me to the possibility of infinite parallel universes. (See my 2012 blog post, Parallel Universes.) So in this world he will eventually choose one school, but I like to think that all the other options are playing out in other universes, each with infinite variations. Somehow that takes the pressure off!

And then there is the experience of our daughter Maya. After touring a dozen colleges in five states, applying to eight, negotiating financial aid and scholarship offers, and much noisy agonizing, she finally settled on the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington. We breathed a collective sigh of relief that the long search was over. Or so we thought . . .

ring around the moon—
from two states away
the catch in her voice

In a plot twist, after two extremely wet and cold winters there, last summer Maya opted to transfer to Humboldt State and live at home. Though HSU may not have the cachet of a private school, it is strong in her chosen field of art education. And here she enjoys a semi-private apartment, home-cooked meals, and the stunning natural beauty of Humboldt County. 

As surprised as we all were by this turn of events, she is much happier here. We love having our lively and affectionate daughter around again—and her tuition is a fraction of what we were paying!

It goes to show that you can do tons of research and make the best decision with the information you have, but no one can predict how life will unspool. I take comfort in the fact that Gabriel is a wise and perceptive young man, so I know he will make sound choices for college and beyond.

As for me, my Stanford degree in international relations prepared me well for my first career in international development. For my unexpected second career as a working artist, not so much. The five(!) economics classes I endured were chock full of theory. But other than that bit about supply and demand, they were useless on the topic of running a small business! 

Who knows what discoveries await my children in college, and which universes they will go on to explore? Although part of me would like to keep them home forever, I’m also excited to see how their futures will unfold.

open road
how the red-tailed hawk
embraces the wind

 It was still winter at Crater Lake, Oregon, where we stopped on our college road trip.

It was still winter at Crater Lake, Oregon, where we stopped on our college road trip.

Makino Studios

New Cards for Moms, Dads and Grads: I have designed six new cards for Mother’s Day (May 13), Father’s Day (June 17) and graduation, plus birthdays. You can find them all in the Cards section.

ukiaHaiku Festival: The ukiaHaiku Festival takes place this Sunday, April 29, at the Civic Center in Ukiah, California. Awards at 2 p.m., reception and refreshments at 3 p.m. I will read a winning haiku and have cards and prints for sale.

Open Studios: I will join artists Tina Gleave, Jennifer Rand, Amy Fowler and Araya Shon at the Samoa Women’s Club in Samoa, California for Weekend 1 of North Coast Open Studios, June 2-3. This is the 20th anniversary of this fun, free annual event, when more than a hundred Humboldt County artists open their studios to the public.

“snow leopard” was first published in Modern Haiku, Issue 49.1, Winter-Spring 2018

“ring around the moon” was first published in Modern Haiku, Issue 48.2, Summer 2017

Welcome to the eternal now

 "foamy surf" is 11x14, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper. It depicts the Lost Coast in Humboldt County, California.

"foamy surf" is 11x14, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper. It depicts the Lost Coast in Humboldt County, California.

Recently I spent a long, boring week in bed with the flu. When not sleeping, reading, or writing whiny haiku about being sick, I did some musing on the nature of time. 

There are so many ways that we fight with time. In the short term, like most modern-day humans, I often feel that there is not enough time in the day to do everything I want to do, like paint. So it was frustrating to be bedridden for days, with too much time on my hands but not enough energy to do anything with it!

In the long term, as I get older, I feel a keener awareness of my limited time here on earth, and my finite window to contribute to the world. This, too, can lead to frustration that I am not accomplishing more.

Time can also seem like an enemy because we only experience it flowing in one direction. As a result, it’s natural to compare the present with the concrete and specific past that we clearly remember rather than the misty, unknown future. 

And so we focus more on aging and loss: the slim waistline and the full, dark hair we once took for granted, the steel-trap memory grown rusty, the friends who have passed on. Why not focus instead on the fact that we are probably healthier, sharper, and more energetic today than we will be down the line?

 "celebrate" is 5x7, an image of cherry blossoms painted with sumi ink and watercolors on paper.

"celebrate" is 5x7, an image of cherry blossoms painted with sumi ink and watercolors on paper.

celebrate!
you’re younger now
than you’ll ever be

What if, as in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, we aged in reverse? Would we be more enthusiastic about growing “older” if it meant becoming more youthful? Yes, eventually there are diapers, mushy food and babbling at both ends of life. But for some reason this is adorable in toddlers, embarrassing in the old.

Anyhow, Benjamin Button is a work of fiction. As Kierkegaard said, “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” 

Maybe we would be happier if we fully grasped the discovery from quantum physics that time is malleable and relative. What if time does not exist in any fundamental sense except as a useful conceptual tool for navigating our world? To quote sci fi writer Ray Cummings, “time is what keeps everything from happening at once.”

Although none of us are evolved enough to transcend time permanently (is that what death is?), we have all experienced the state of “flow” when we lose awareness of the passage of time. It might be while surfing, reading a great book, or playing music with friends. When I am painting—a right-brain activity—I’m focused on color and form, and the hours flow by uncounted.

Paradoxically, perhaps we would feel we had “enough time” if we spent more of our days in this mode beyond time, when we are fully present and engaged in each moment. It shouldn't be that hard to do: as young children, we passed most of the day in this state, fully immersed in exploration and play. 

On my way to the beach, I often hike by some cement water tanks that have been covered in graffiti for years. Today I was tickled to see that a county worker had painted it all out except this one line: “Welcome to the eternal now.”

foamy surf
rushing out
my inner child

 Zen graffiti on a water tank at Ma-le'l Dunes in Manila, California.

Zen graffiti on a water tank at Ma-le'l Dunes in Manila, California.

Makino Studios

2018 Golden Haiku Competition: I’m delighted to share that the haiku below was selected to be featured on a sign in downtown Washington, DC this month! If any of my DC readers sees it, in the Golden Triangle neighborhood between the White House and Dupont Circle, please send me a photo!

daffodil shoots-Golden Haiku sign.jpg

North Coast Open Studios: Mark your calendar for the 20th anniversary of this fun, free event, when more than a hundred Humboldt County artists open their studios to the public. I will once again join silk painter Tina Gleave and other artists at the Samoa Women’s Club in Samoa, CA for Weekend 1, June 2-3. 

More thoughts on aging: A 2013 blog post, “Younger than we’ll ever be,” uses prose, art, and haiku to explore the theme of coming to terms with getting older.

Love in action

  "will you be mine?"  is available as a card. 

"will you be mine?" is available as a card. 

Happy Valentine’s Day! Today I am enjoying a beautiful bouquet from my darling husband and looking forward to dinner tonight at Folie Douce in Arcata, one of our favorite restaurants. 

I recognize that, as delightful as this holiday can be for those with sweethearts, the emphasis on romantic love can make it feel lonely or pointless for those who don’t. Fortunately, there are many ways to celebrate love in all its incarnations.

Every year, my photographer friend Lorraine Miller-Wolf organizes a Valentine-making party. Dozens of friends come to her house to make cards using colored paper, rubber stamps, stickers, lace doilies, markers and old catalogs. Mugs of tea mingle with scissors and glue sticks on the newspaper-covered tables.

Sometimes homely, sometimes elaborate, but always created with love, these cards are then given to people who could use some extra caring. They are distributed via local assisted living homes, senior lunch sites, a kidney dialysis center, and a meal delivery service for seniors. Together with similar parties hosted by friends, this year Lorraine’s efforts resulted in more than one thousand heartfelt Valentine’s Day cards shared with people in our community, a record.

That’s a whole lot of love. Whether your Valentine’s Day involves a candlelit dinner with your sweetie, a long walk with a dear friend, or a snuggle with your pooch, have a good one!

darkened bedroom
surprised by a French kiss
from our French poodle

 Inspired by Lorraine's party, yesterday I made a Valentine's Day card for my husband Paul.

Inspired by Lorraine's party, yesterday I made a Valentine's Day card for my husband Paul.

Makino Studios News

Custom Paintings: I love doing commissions! 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 for the situation, with or without a haiku, as you prefer. Sizes and prices are variable.

Makino Studios Gallery: Have you checked out the gallery of art on my new website? While some of these paintings have sold, many can be ordered as signed prints. 

Connecting: I appreciate whenever someone takes the time to respond to these posts, and I read and answer every comment. 

Wet Paint

Though I’ve been making art since I could hold a crayon, and have been a professional artist since 2011, I had never taken a watercolor class—until now. Next week will be my final session of a great sixteen-week class taught by esteemed artist Alan Sanborn.

Although the paint, brushes, paper and photorealistic approach are all different from my usual technique, I’ve gained so much from this class. I learned that to paint dark green trees, layering deep turquoise over orange can look more realistic than using green paint. Or how to use complementary colors for shadows: purple for a yellow banana or orange for a blue plate. Or even why it's worth spending $11 for a sheet of good watercolor paper!

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I’ll share some examples of my assignments. And perhaps you’ll notice some evolution in my art over the coming months!

hovering brush
nothing and everything
in a pool of ink

  64 shades of black : Our first major assignment was to cut a black and white photo into 64 tiny numbered rectangles, then reproduce it using a wide variety of blacks that we mixed. 

64 shades of black: Our first major assignment was to cut a black and white photo into 64 tiny numbered rectangles, then reproduce it using a wide variety of blacks that we mixed. 

  Fishermen at dawn:  We painted several 25-minute pieces in class, learning to make quick decisions about where and how to layer color.

Fishermen at dawn: We painted several 25-minute pieces in class, learning to make quick decisions about where and how to layer color.

  Swan Lake:  This was a study in layering color on an image with a black background, shown in progress.

Swan Lake: This was a study in layering color on an image with a black background, shown in progress.

 And to think it only took 20 hours to transform a beautiful photo of a lily pond into a confusing jumble!

And to think it only took 20 hours to transform a beautiful photo of a lily pond into a confusing jumble!

  Languid lass:  Our teacher had us paint the model in just two shades, light or dark, then add a few darker details. Surprising how realistic that can look.

Languid lass: Our teacher had us paint the model in just two shades, light or dark, then add a few darker details. Surprising how realistic that can look.

 The finished piece retains a subtle hint of the warm blue underlayer.

The finished piece retains a subtle hint of the warm blue underlayer.

  Playtime:  Our final assignment: a self-portrait. This was the first of several layers.

Playtime: Our final assignment: a self-portrait. This was the first of several layers.

 Based on a photo by my son Gabriel, the finished painting depicts my dog Misha and me playing at the beach on New Year's Day.

Based on a photo by my son Gabriel, the finished painting depicts my dog Misha and me playing at the beach on New Year's Day.