New year, new chapter

“Happy New Year” is 5×7, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper. © Annette Makino 2015

“Happy New Year” is 5×7, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper.
© Annette Makino 2015

If you knew you had one more year to live, what would you do differently? I sometimes ask myself this question—not out of morbid fixation, but as a simple way to clarify priorities and make sure I’m on track. Recently, I got a surprising answer: “Paint bigger.”

A couple weeks ago, I got the chance to try this out. I was commissioned to make a painting on a 6’ x 4’ sheet of plywood to hang outdoors in Arcata’s revitalized Creamery District. After debating what to paint for awhile, I found my inspiration from a trip to nearby Luffenholtz Beach with my family, where my husband threw sticks for several dogs.

After years of careful work with the delicate and unforgiving materials of sumi ink, watercolor, and paper, what fun to splatter great quantities of cheap house paint onto knotty plywood! I stretched my arm as far as I could reach using big fat brushes, and even used an old t-shirt of my daughter’s to smear on the clouds.

When one of the three dogs I painted turned out too big, I simply painted over it and redid it instead of having to start the piece over completely, as I would have with ink and watercolor. The stakes were low, the rewards were high. I feel the finished painting, pictured below, captures the sense of joy and motion in that day at the ocean. And hopefully also the joyful energy I felt in creating it.

Who knows where this will lead? My pragmatic side has a lot of annoying questions: What would you do with a bunch of plywood sheet paintings? Would they still work for card and calendar art? If not, what then? Are you really switching mediums? How would you reproduce the images? Et cetera.

I am trying to quiet the mind and just let the process unfold. Trying to be OK with the potentially impractical and awkward results. Trying not to think too much about results, period.

Putting the finishing touches on “Luffenholtz Beach,” 72×48, house paint on plywood. © Annette Makino 2015

Putting the finishing touches on “Luffenholtz Beach,” 72×48, house paint on plywood.
© Annette Makino 2015

So, if you had one more year to live, what would you try that is uncertain and new and exciting? What would you do differently? Happy exploring, and happy new year!

warmly, Annette Makino

Makino Studios News

2016 calendar: My wall calendar of art and haiku, featuring twelve of my paintings of landscapes, animals and flowers, is available online and in some local stores.

Best haiku of the year: Red Moon Press is about to publish galaxy of dust: The Red Moon Anthology of English-Language Haiku 2015. I am honored to be included in the 20th edition of this most-awarded series in the history of haiku in English.

fox tracks . . .
who was I before
I was tamed?