Eureka

Thanksgiving abundance

“warmest holiday wishes”  © 2015 Annette Makino

“warmest holiday wishes” © 2015 Annette Makino

As Thanksgiving approaches, I’m thinking about the fact that we in the U.S. have a holiday that is completely devoted to gathering with our loved ones and giving thanks. Isn't it cool that in deepest, darkest November, family and friends come together to share a feast that represents abundance? Covered in gravy, with a side of cranberry sauce.

I’m grateful to be enjoying a less stressful holiday season than usual. For this month and next, I’ve consciously stepped back from some commitments and opportunities just to keep from getting overwhelmed.

As a result, I’ve had time to exchange foot rubs with my daughter Maya, who is home from college this week; play hard-fought games of Scrabble with my son Gabriel; take long hikes in the redwoods with the whole family; and pursue a few new art projects.

Quality family and creative time: that to me is true abundance. But I won't say no to a slice of pumpkin pie—or two!

More fundamentally, I’m deeply thankful to be able to create and share my art with the world. The gravy is to hear from so many of you how this work brings people joy and meaning.

Happy Thanksgiving!

warmly, Annette Makino

Makino Studios News

Free Shipping: With thanks to you, my customers and supporters, I’m offering free shipping on orders of $20 or more from my Etsy shop. Through this coming Monday, Nov. 30, type in coupon code FREESHIP2015 at checkout to qualify. You’ll find new holiday and everyday cards, art prints and a 2016 calendar of art and haiku.

Made in Humboldt: A selection of my cards, prints and calendars is now available at the Garden Shop of Pierson Building Center in Eureka, CA  through Dec. 24.

Holiday Craft Market: Makino Studios will have a booth at this fair in the Arcata Community Center in Arcata, CA on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 12-13.

Before we were tamed

“fox tracks” is 11×14, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper. It is also available as  a card reading “happy birthday, bright spirit.”  © 2015 Annette Makino

“fox tracks” is 11×14, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper. It is also available as a card reading “happy birthday, bright spirit.” © 2015 Annette Makino

For the past twenty years, my family and I have lived in the country on the side of a redwood-covered hill. In the morning the woods fill with bird conversations, and we often glimpse deer and foxes wandering past our house.

A raccoon that hung around our compost pile got nicknamed Deke, short for “decomposition.” But when “he” showed up one day trailing four fluffy baby raccoons, we had to rename her Delilah. Because we don’t have the heart to chase them off, Delilah and her grown children have grown quite comfortable strolling past our windows and staring at us curiously.

watchful eyes . . .
bit by bit the wild raccoon
tames us

Living among all this wildlife has gotten me thinking about humans’ connection with nature: what we’ve forgotten, what we can learn, and what we know deep down. At a time when human activity is pervading every corner of the planet, from the deepest oceans to near space, I’m wondering what it means to be wild.

fox tracks . . .
who were we before
we were tamed?

“love from the gang” is 11×14, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper. It is also available as  a card reading “love from the gang.”  © 2015 Annette Makino

“love from the gang” is 11×14, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper. It is also available as a card reading “love from the gang.” © 2015 Annette Makino

Despite our complex civilizations and sophisticated technologies, we humans share 90% of our DNA with mice. How different are we really from Delilah and her children?

With such questions in the back of my mind, this spring I painted a series featuring our woodland neighbors and some of the natural places around Humboldt County.

chigger bites
my finger traces
the wilderness map

The road to our house runs along a lovely little stream shaded by redwoods, alders and maples. But if you look closely, you can find chunks of styrofoam hidden in an old-growth redwood stump. Old appliances and bags of contaminated soil from marijuana grows are dumped just above the stream bed.

Though humans are supposed to be the most advanced species on the planet, ours is the only one foolish enough to destroy its own habitat. Can we remember how to live in balance before it’s too late? Can we regain the common sense of the common field mouse? Perhaps by the simple act of spending more time in nature, walking, watching and listening, we can start to feel our wild hearts again.

in wilderness
we find our way home

Makino Studios News

North Coast Open Studios: I'll be on hand to share my new wilderness-inspired paintings at Ramone’s Bakery & Café in Old Town Eureka, California this coming Saturday and Sunday, June 6-7, from 11 to 5 both days. My friend Tina Gleave will show her stunning silk paintings of landscapes and other natural images. We’ll also demonstrate our tools and techniques and have new cards and prints for sale. In addition, there will be a free raffle with two prizes: we are each giving away a $25 gift certificate towards our art.

Arts Alive at Ramone’s: Piggybacking on our Open Studios event, Tina and I have a joint show at Ramone’s called “Before we were tamed.” There will bean opening during Arts Alive this Saturday, June 6, from 6 to 9 p.m., and the show runs through June.

New Cards: Twenty-four new and updated card designs are now available in my MakinoStudios Etsy shop. I’ve also clarified how you can order any six designs for $19.99. (My shop will be closed June 13-20 while I’m on a painting vacation.)

Haiku Award: I’m happy to share that one of my haiku won the Dori Anderson prize for the best haiku about Ukiah, California at this year's ukiaHaiku Festival.

Mendocino spring
only ten shades of green
in my paint set

New Fortuna Store: My cards can now be found at Madame Fortuna's Lucky Heart Shop, a store selling herbs, orchids, books, and gifts that just opened in Fortuna, California. See the Store page for a complete list of places that carry my cards.

Connecting: I always love hearing from you. You can get news, fresh art and haiku on my Makino Studios Facebook page and my Twitter feed.

An earlier version of the haiku “fox tracks” first appeared in The Heron’s Nest, XVII:1. “Chigger bites” was published in The Heron’s Nest, XVII:2.

Juicy bugs and other treats

Happy Haiku Poetry Day! To celebrate, I’m sharing a selection of the haiku and senryu I’ve had published in the past year. (And if, like most people, you were taught that haiku in English need to follow the 5-7-5 syllable pattern, think again. On his Graceguts site, haiku poet Michael Dylan Welch explains why that is an urban myth, and the secrets of how to write good haiku.)

When you work for an idiot

It’s been said that one of the downsides of being self-employed is that you may find yourself working for an idiot. As the founder, CEO and sole staffer of Makino Studios, I get to consider this on a regular basis.

Ripples from a stone

“forest clearing” is 11×14, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper. A holiday card version reads, “all is calm, all is bright.” © 2014 Annette Makino

“forest clearing” is 11×14, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper. A holiday card version reads, “all is calm, all is bright.” © 2014 Annette Makino

I’ve been thinking about cause and effect—and ripples. Even we fuzzy artsy types, who met our college science requirement by taking “Physics for Poets,” know that when you throw a stone in the water, the effect is not linear: the ripples radiate out in concentric circles, farther and farther from the source.

So it goes in the rest of life: while actions certainly have consequences, you can never clearly predict what they will be. A tossed pebble may create a wave that washes a bug up to safety on the far shore. And sometimes the effects radiate out much farther than you think.

This month my friend Amy Uyeki and I have a joint show featuring images combined with haiku and other words. We named the show “Ripples from a Stone” based on the idea that we all influence each other in surprising and unpredictable ways.

In fact, both of our work in this show was inspired by Amy’s grandmother, Shizue Harada. I never met her, yet this Japanese woman, who emigrated to the US in the 1920s in an arranged marriage and only began writing poetry late in life, indirectly launched me on my path as an artist and poet.

For more about this story and details on the show, see this article in the Eureka Times-Standard. And if you’re in Humboldt, we’d love to see you at our reception this Saturday, Nov. 22, 4-6 p.m. at the Adorni Center in Eureka, California.

By putting our work out in the world, we have tossed a stone into the river. Who knows what might come of that?

Artists Amy Uyeki, left, and Annette Makino at their joint show, “Ripples from a Stone,” at the Adorni Center in Eureka, California in November 2014.

Artists Amy Uyeki, left, and Annette Makino at their joint show, “Ripples from a Stone,” at the Adorni Center in Eureka, California in November 2014.

Makino Studios News

Ripples from a Stone: This show by mixed media artist Amy Uyeki and me will run at the Adorni Center in Eureka, CA through Nov. 30, with a reception on Saturday, Nov. 22, 4-6 p.m.

Holiday Open Studios: Visit artists Joyce Jonté, Patricia Sennott and me 11-5 on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 6-7 at StewArt Studios in Arcata, CA.

Made in Humboldt: My cards, prints and calendars are on offer at this holiday sale at the Pierson's Garden Shop in Eureka, CA now through Dec. 24.

Holiday Craft Market: Makino Studios will have original paintings, prints, cards and calendars at this fair in the Arcata Community Center in Arcata, CA on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 13-14.

Holiday at Mateel Gallery: A few of my original paintings, plus cards and calendars, will be available at this group exhibit in Garberville, CA Nov. 22 through Dec. 27.

Living Room Retrospective: I am one of nine artists featured in this exhibit at MikkiMoves in Eureka, CA, opening Saturday, Dec. 6. The show runs through January.

New Cards and 2015 Calendar: Several new holiday and everyday card designs are now available online in my Etsy shop, along with my wall calendar for 2015.

Happily ever after, and other fairy tales

“…and they lived happily ever after” is 11×14, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolor on paper.

“…and they lived happily ever after” is 11×14, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolor on paper.

We all know the fairy tale about the frog prince. In the traditional version, once the princess lets the frog eat from her golden bowl and sleep in her bed for three nights, he turns into a handsome prince. (In the modern, instant gratification version, the transformation happens as soon as she kisses him.)

The Brothers Grimm account concludes:

“They then took leave of the king, and got into the coach with eight horses, and all set out, full of joy and merriment, for the prince's kingdom, which they reached safely; and there they lived happily a great many years.”

Nice story. But closer to real life, I think the couple might be just as happy foregoing the fancy coach, the grand castle and all the expectations of a perfect fairy tale life. Instead, they could spend their time together as two frogs in a pond, catching flies in the sunshine and enjoying each day as it comes.

For the past 21 years, I’ve been blessed to be married to a kind, brilliant, funny and warm-hearted man who is also my best friend. We don’t lead a fairy tale life—our Toyota and Subaru “coaches” both date from the last millennium, and we spent part of yesterday pulling weeds and scrubbing toilets. But we deeply appreciate each other and the sweet, everyday world of home and family we have built together.

“three-leaf clover” is 5×7, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolor on paper. Published on DailyHaiga (Dec. 14, 2012).

“three-leaf clover” is 5×7, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolor on paper. Published on DailyHaiga (Dec. 14, 2012).

Last night, as we were watching the BBC series, “Sherlock,” with our 13-year old son Gabriel, I got a text from our 17-year old daughter Maya, who is off at a journalism workshop: “I’m having a moment of appreciation for you and dad because you’re both genuinely good and cool people. I’m proud to have you guys for parents.”

No prince or princess could ask for more.

for better or for worse
our lights and darks
tumbling together

The Heron’s Nest XVI:1 (March 2014)

 •

Makino Studios News

Savor the Day: There is a reception for my solo show this Saturday, August 2, 6-9 p.m. during Arts Alive at Humboldt Herbals in Eureka, CA. Seabury Gould and Frank Anderson will play old-style acoustic blues. There will be new cards, prints, and a 2015 16-month calendar for sale, plus free refreshments. The show runs through August.

New cards: I’ve listed nine new card designs in my Makino Studios Etsy shop, plus the new 2015 calendar.

North Country Fair: Humboldt folks, come celebrate the fall equinox at the 41st annual North Country Fair on the Arcata Plaza September 20 and 21. I'll have a Makino Studios booth on G Street near 9th.

Feedback: I love to hear from my readers and I respond to every email or blog comment. Thanks for all the insights and encouragement after my last blog post, “Yeah, but is it art?” I look forward to exploring your reading suggestions on the nature of art and being an artist.

Yeah, but is it art?

“love you till the cows come home” is 11×14, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolor on paper. It is one of several new pieces showing at Humboldt Herbals in July and August, and is also available as a card or print.

“love you till the cows come home” is 11×14, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolor on paper. It is one of several new pieces showing at Humboldt Herbals in July and August, and is also available as a card or print.

The head of a local gallery once turned me down for a show, saying my work was too "popular" and not a good fit for his gallery. "Come back if you do something different," he said, "maybe something more from your soul." 

Ouch.

A nationally recognized artist put it in more positive terms: "Your work is very accessible."

As I've been painting a new series and preparing for a solo show in July and August, titled "Savor the Day," I've been pondering the question, "what is art?" And I've been feeling some insecurity about my work. Is it really art if it works as a greeting card? Is it art if it's not that technically skilled? Is it art if someone buys it for their mother in Oklahoma?

Of course, the question of what is art has been argued for a long time. The Impressionists once appalled the Paris art world with their loose, naturalistic approach.

About thirty years ago, my Swiss grandmother, who was born in 1899, told me she'd gotten my mother an art calendar for Christmas: "One of those modern painters . . . Monet."

She and my Swiss aunts, discussing a Picasso exhibit that was then visiting Basel, agreed that his work was "verrückt, verrückt!" (crazy).

In his seventh grade art class, my son recently learned about the work of Andy Warhol. When I asked what he thought of it, he replied, "Soup. A lot of soup. That was the dominant impression." It took a long time for the art establishment to accept those Campbell's soup cans as art, and clearly some younger critics are not yet convinced

Every class in Japanese or Chinese brush painting starts with learning to paint bamboo. The particular brush strokes for the trunk, the leaves, and the twigs have been handed down for centuries.

“savor the day” is 5×7, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolor on paper. It is available as a card or print.

“savor the day” is 5×7, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolor on paper. It is available as a card or print.

It's said that once you master the art of painting bamboo, you know the strokes to paint just about anything. The catch is that it takes a lifetime of painting bamboo to get there, or at least a decade.

And bamboo is just one of the Four Gentlemen that every aspiring brush painter is supposed to learn properly before painting anything else, along with the orchid, chrysanthemum and plum blossom. (As my daughter observed, "Four Gentlemen? Those don't sound very manly to me.")

Though my art draws on the tradition of Japanese ink painting, I've come to realize that I'm not terribly interested in mastering these ancient tools and techniques. Instead, I have learned just enough to adapt them to my own purposes.

I enjoy grinding my sumi ink stick in an ink stone and painting with bamboo brushes, but in a simple style that doesn't take years to master. And while I started out painting on rice paper, lately I prefer using watercolor paper and other sturdy paper, so I can saturate my paintings with color.

As for subject matter, I have yet to find anything to say about bamboo. Instead, my new show features flying chickens, lovestruck cows, and smiling frogs.

Is it true art? Who is to say? And does it matter? But I do know that my work, now sold in 30 stores in four states, is given to friends and lovers, shared with support groups and classes, taped to bathroom mirrors, and stuck on refrigerators.

Helping people feel more connected to each other and to the world around them: that is my soul's work. My mother put it succinctly last week, as I was sharing my uncertainties: "Your art makes a lot of people happy."

I like to think that if she were still alive, even my art critic grandmother would agree.

Makino Studios News

Savor the Day: I have a solo show opening Saturday, July 5, 6-9 p.m. at Humboldt Herbals in Eureka, CA. There will be live music and free refreshments, and I'll have new cards and prints for sale as well as my brand-new 2015 16-month calendar. The show runs through August.

Healthy Customers:LifeSource Natural Foods in Salem, Oregon is now carrying my cards. It seems my customers are a healthy bunch, as this is the sixth natural food store to carry my cards. Thanks to everyone who supports my work, wherever you find it!

Traveling: I'm heading to New York and then to a cabin on the Klamath River in Northern California, so my Makino Studios Etsy shop will be closed July 5-26. I'm sorry for any inconvenience.

North Country Fair: Humboldt folks, come celebrate the fall equinox at the 41st annual North Country Fair on the Arcata Plaza September 20 and 21. I'll have a Makino Studios booth on G Street near 9th.

BabyUpdate: Thanks to everyone who responded to my last post, Adoption Journey! My nephew Kai, now five months old, is doing well at home in Tucson with my sister Yuri, and he continues to enchant all who meet him.