Japanese poetry

The other end of the paintbrush

“summer solstice” is 11×14, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper and digitally edited. An earlier version of the haiku first appeared in Modern Haiku. A  birthday card version  is available. © Annette Makino 2016

“summer solstice” is 11×14, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper and digitally edited. An earlier version of the haiku first appeared in Modern Haiku. A birthday card version is available. © Annette Makino 2016

Humboldt County is famous for two things: its magical old-growth redwood forests and perhaps equally magical marijuana. But there is a lesser-known feature that makes this area unique: it has more working artists per capita than any other part of California.

Each year in June, some 150 Humboldt artists open their studio doors to the public as part of North Coast Open Studios. Earlier this month, it was my pleasure to be part of the "Seven in Samoa" group that hosted visitors the first weekend. The following weekend, I got to tour nine studios.

In visiting other artists, I was inspired and moved by much of their art. But it was just as interesting to talk with these working artists and learn about what goes on at the other end of the paintbrush. I discovered we are grappling with some of the same issues.

A common theme of our conversations was the tension between making art that purely expresses our creativity versus making art that we know will sell. For instance, one artist is currently drawn to images of melancholy women, but knows there is a much bigger market for her playful pieces of cats.

Another sells a lot of art postcards with inspiring quotes, but her passion project is a scrapbook of sketches and thoughts about silent meditation retreats, though she knows the market for such a book is very limited.

Annette Makino demonstrates her tools and techniques at the Samoa Women’s Club in Samoa, CA as part of North Coast Open Studios in June 2017.

Annette Makino demonstrates her tools and techniques at the Samoa Women’s Club in Samoa, CA as part of North Coast Open Studios in June 2017.

For my part, I sometimes find myself painting simply because it’s time for a new card catalog. Instead of “What do I really want to express about my core being?,” the “helpful” and persistent voice inside my head asks a much less inspiring question, “What would make for a good birthday card?”

Another common theme of my Open Studios conversations was the competing demands on our time: we need to spend time managing and marketing our business, but that cuts into the time to actually create. And it's hard for me to compartmentalize: when I know I have orders to fill or an event to publicize, I can't get into the open, spacious frame of mind I need to paint.

Finally, an underlying issue that emerged from talking with other artists was, what does success mean to me as a working artist? Is it measured by sales? Reputation? Appreciation from buyers? Personal satisfaction from the joy of creating? While it’s surely some combination of all of these, it’s challenging to find the right balance, especially in a culture that confuses money with worth.

Overall, I came away from Open Studios without clearcut answers, yet comforted to know that I am not alone: even the most successful artists struggle with these dilemmas. It was inspiring to meet so many passionate, committed people who have chosen to walk this sometimes difficult path. We may never get rich from our art (though I'm not opposed to that!), but we are certainly rich in spirit.

summer solstice . . .
the skipping stone
all the way across

Makino Studios News

Seven in Samoa: The Eureka Times-Standard ran this story about the group of artists that showcased our work together as part of North Coast Open Studios.

Summer vacation: Happy solstice! I’ll be on vacation from this Saturday, June 24 until Sunday, July 2. While I am swimming and painting at the Klamath River (depicted in the above image), my Makino Studios Etsy shop will be closed for the week and I will not be filling store orders.

Westhaven Wild Blackberry Festival: Rabia O’Loren will be selling a selection of my cards and prints at this festival on Sunday, July 30, 10-4 at the Westhaven Volunteer Fire Department.

North Country Fair: Mark your calendar for this two-day festival celebrating the fall equinox, taking place September 16-17 on the Arcata Plaza!

Celebrating Haiku Poetry Day

“the grass on this side” is 11×14, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper and digitally edited. A  greeting card version  is available reading “love you till the cows come home.” © Annette Makino 2014

“the grass on this side” is 11×14, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper and digitally edited. A greeting card version is available reading “love you till the cows come home.” © Annette Makino 2014

Popping up in the middle of National Poetry Month, today is International Haiku Poetry Day. To mark the occasion, here is a smorgasbord of haiku I’ve published this past year. Enjoy!

gentle rain
I remind my mother
to buckle up

tendrils of fog
I follow a thread
back into the dream

understory
no punctuation
in her text message

beach vacation
every night between the sheets
a little more sand

sunlit pond
the cattails
chirping

thin ice
the windshield crack
lengthens

Indian summer
the sky the color
of forever

And for a selection of some of the finest haiku of 2016, see the short list for The Haiku Foundation’s prestigious Touchstone Award.

warmly, Annette Makino

_________

Publication credits:

“gentle rain” - The Heron’s Nest, Issue 19:1, March 2017
“tendrils of fog” - Frogpond, Issue 40:1, Winter 2017
“understory” - Exhaling, Seabeck Haiku Getaway 2015 Anthology
“beach vacation” - Modern Haiku, Issue 47:2, Summer 2016
“sunlit pond” - A Hundred Gourds, Issue 5:3, June 2016
“thin ice” - A Hundred Gourds, Issue 5:3, June 2016
“Indian summer” - Frogpond, Issue 39:3, Autumn 2016

Makino Studios News

Free shipping for Poetry Month: Since April is National Poetry Month, I am offering free shipping for US orders of $15 or more through the Makino Studios Etsy store. Use code SPRING2017 through April 30.

ukiaHaiku Festival: I will be at the ukiaHaiku Festival in Ukiah, California on Sunday, April 30 at 2 p.m. at the Civic Center in my old hometown of Ukiah, California. Stay tuned for some happy news!

BeeFest 2017: This annual celebration of bees takes place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, May 13 at the Adorni Center in Eureka, California. A sampling of my cards and prints will be available.

Open Studios: Mark your calendars for North Coast Open Studios! Once again, I will join silk painter Tina Gleave, plus five other women artists, at the Samoa Women’s Club in Samoa for the first weekend. We’ll kick off from 6-9 p.m. on Friday, June 2 and continue from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, June 3-4. We’ll be showing new art, demonstrating our tools and techniques, and offering free refreshments.

Resistance is fertile

“daffodil sunlight” is 11×14, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper and digitally edited. A  birthday card  and a  Mother’s Day card  version are available. © Annette Makino 2017

“daffodil sunlight” is 11×14, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper and digitally edited. A birthday card and a Mother’s Day card version are available. © Annette Makino 2017

It seems like an eon ago when I last wrote, in the final days of the Obama presidency. I was anxious about putting my political opinions out in this forum, not knowing how many others shared my views about the dark turn our democracy has taken.

I needn't have worried. Aside from four unsubscribes, the response I got was overwhelmingly positive. And nationwide, starting with the Women’s Marches that drew a remarkable 1% of the US population to the streets, the resistance to the Trump agenda is proving to be deep and wide.

So far, this administration is even more dreadful than I feared. As a result, life has entered a new normal. I write, paint and sing with my choir as before, but now, on Tuesdays at noon, over bowls of homemade soup, I join several dozen other local folks at Power Lunch Humboldt to make calls to our representatives. It nourishes my soul to join with other committed citizens to reclaim our democracy, one phone call at a time.

And in this time of daily assaults against reason, compassion and integrity, I have to be careful how much news I consume. The goal is to stay informed without feeling overwhelmed by the daily outrages. Periodic “fasts” from news media, Facebook and Twitter help to maintain that balance. This is a marathon, not a sprint, and we are all having to learn how to stay engaged without burning out.

“spring breeze” is 5×7, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper and digitally edited. A  birthday card  version is also available. © Annette Makino 2016

“spring breeze” is 5×7, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper and digitally edited. A birthday card version is also available. © Annette Makino 2016

Meanwhile, spring is sproinging. Down the lane, my favorite cherry tree is in bloom; in the yard, the daffodils are exploding with color; and this morning at the marsh, the sparrows were singing their hearts out.

sunlit pond
the cattails
chirping

If we are to maintain the energy to resist over the months and years to come, we need to take extra good care of ourselves. For me that means spending time in nature, connecting with friends and family, and finding reasons for gratitude in the everyday. Despite the madness in Washington, DC, I wish you moments of joy in this time of renewal. Happy spring!

warmly, Annette Makino

Makino Studios News

Free shipping for Poetry Month: Since April is National Poetry Month, and April 17 is International Haiku Poetry Day, I am offering free shipping for US orders of $15 or more through the Makino Studios Etsy store. Use code SPRING2017 through April 30.

Twelve new card designs: A soaring hawk, frisky dog, and redwood trail are among a dozen new and updated greeting card designs just listed in the Makino Studios Etsy store.

Open Studios: Mark your calendars for North Coast Open Studios! Once again, I will join silk painter Tina Gleave, plus five other women artists, at the Samoa Women’s Club for the first weekend. We’ll kick off from 6-9 p.m. on Friday, June 2 and continue from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, June 3-4. We'll be showing new art, demonstrating our tools and techniques, and offering free refreshments.

Connecting: I deeply appreciate the outpouring of positive responses to my last post about our political situation. You can also get news, art and haiku on my Makino Studios Facebook page and my Twitter feed.

“sunlit pond” was published in A Hundred Gourds, Issue 5:3, June 2016

Light in a time of darkness

“every cell awake” is 5×7, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper. The original commissioned piece has sold, but a birthday card version is available. © Annette Makino 2016

“every cell awake” is 5×7, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper. The original commissioned piece has sold, but a birthday card version is available. © Annette Makino 2016

For years, I’ve been content to live a quiet life in the woods with my family—writing, painting, soaking in the hot tub and going for long walks on the beach. In retrospect, because it seemed that the country was basically going in the right direction, I took our beautiful, messy, multicultural democracy for granted.

November’s election results were a shocking illustration that our democratic system is much more fragile than we realized. To many of us, the worst of it was not the denial of the popular vote. Not the lies, insults, and ugly revelations of the campaign. Not the Russian government’s hacking or their mysterious hold over Donald Trump. Not the FBI director’s last-minute election interference.

No, the worst was the discovery that so many of our fellow Americans—about a quarter of eligible voters—would voluntarily choose a racist, misogynistic, climate change-denying demagogue to represent us. I have to believe that Trump voters genuinely felt he was the best choice for president. But as a woman, a minority, and a child of immigrants, I struggle not to take this personally.

aftermath
this deep blue state
of mind

While still grieving, I have been inspired to take action. As President Obama said in his farewell speech last week, "Our Constitution is a remarkable, beautiful gift. But it's really just a piece of parchment. It has no power on its own. We, the people, give it power - with our participation, and the choices we make."

So since the election, along with hundreds of thousands of others, I have been phoning Members of Congress, writing letters, and donating to environmental and other groups.

Tomorrow, I will be walking and singing at a freedom march honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. We can learn much from the civil rights movement about the power of nonviolent action over time.

And next Saturday, January 21, I will take part in the Women’s March in Eureka, CA, one of some 300 women’s marches held around the country and the world in tandem with the big one in Washington, DC.

“new chapter” is 5×7, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper. It is available as a small print and is included in my 2017 calendar. © Annette Makino 2016

“new chapter” is 5×7, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper. It is available as a small print and is included in my 2017 calendar. © Annette Makino 2016

Political activism was not my priority for 2017—or ever. And I have hesitated to share this piece because I know not all my customers and store buyers share my politics. But the threats that our nation and our planet now face transcend all that. As Dr. King once said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

If there is a silver lining to the coming administration, it is that it could usher in a new era of political engagement by everyone who feels unrepresented and disrespected by our president-elect. And beyond politics, I hope the election will commit us, with “every cell awake,” to put love into action however and whenever we can.

Dr. King said, “Only in the darkness can you see the stars.” Let this time of darkness inspire us all to shine more brightly.

warmly, Annette Makino

Makino Studios News

Red Moon Anthology: I’m honored that the following haiku made it into dust devils: The Red Moon Anthology of English-Language Haiku 2016, an annualcollection of the best haiku of the year:

edge of the woods
some things I may not
want to know

(originally published in The Heron’s Nest, XVII:3, September 2016)

Still need a calendar? A few of my 2017 mini-calendars of art and haiku are available online ($11.99).

Art Prints: I have just listed several signed 11x14 art prints in the Makino Studios Etsy shop.

Election Edition

“redwood time” is 11×14, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper. It is also available as a  greeting card  or print. © Annette Makino 2016

“redwood time” is 11×14, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper. It is also available as a greeting card or print. © Annette Makino 2016

Apparently there is some sort of election coming up. Lately I’ve been grinding my teeth at night and, although this could be one of Hillary Clinton’s secret conspiracies, I prefer to blame it on Donald Trump.

campaign sign
the dog registers
his opinion

Last weekend I attended the wonderful Seabeck Haiku Getaway in Washington State. Sprinkled among the presentations and activities, there were several “Write Now” sessions in which we had five minutes to draft haiku on a particular topic. Here are a couple from a session on the elections:

swing state
leaves land on both sides
of the fence

kissing the baby still undecided

This is truly one of the most bizarre, unpredictable and ugly U.S. elections ever. Each day has brought new revelations and accusations. It will be very hard to heal the nation after this divisive process.

campaign season
geese practice leaving
the country

But when I look out my window at the forest outside, I am reminded of another time frame, where a four-year election cycle is no more than a breath.

redwood time . . .
the steady journey
from earth to sky

No matter the outcome on Tuesday, I am rooting for common sense, compassion and a sense of perspective.

warmly, Annette Makino

(“campaign sign” was first published in Haiku News, Vol. 1, No. 44, November 2012)

Makino Studios News

Senryu award: I’m honored that this poem, which I wrote in Japan, recently won third place in the annual Gerald Brady Awards for Senryu held by the Haiku Society of America (HSA). (View all the winners plus judges' comments):

sacred shrine
worshippers raise
their selfie sticks

Haiku award: And this haiku won second honorable mention in the HSA’s prestigious Harold G. Henderson Awards for Haiku (View all the winners plus judges' comments):

our easy silence
every puddle
sky-deep

Annette Makino’s  2017 mini-calendar  of art and haiku features animals, landscapes, and other scenes from nature. The calendars are $11.99 plus tax and shipping on Etsy.

Annette Makino’s 2017 mini-calendar of art and haiku features animals, landscapes, and other scenes from nature. The calendars are $11.99 plus tax and shipping on Etsy.

Free shipping through November: Use shipping code FREESHIP2016 for free shipping through November on orders of $15 or more from the Makino Studios Etsy shop. There you will find my 2017 calendar, laser-engraved wooden keychains, holiday and everyday greeting cards and signed prints.

Arcata Holiday Crafts Market: My only public event of the holidays, this fair includes many local artists and craftspeople, plus music and food. It runs Saturday, Dec. 10, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 11, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Arcata Community Center, Arcata.

Pierson Made in Humboldt Fair: November 15-Dec. 24. Ongoing fair of arts, crafts and specialty foods handmade in Humboldt County. Pierson Garden Shop, 4100 Broadway Street, Eureka.

Exploring art in old Japan

“maple leaf” is 11×14, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper and digitally edited. It appears as a page of a 2017 calendar of art and haiku. © Annette Makino 2016

“maple leaf” is 11×14, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper and digitally edited. It appears as a page of a 2017 calendar of art and haiku. © Annette Makino 2016

Besides a grand family adventure, my trip to Japan earlier this summer (see Journey to Japan) was also an exploration of Japanese art and haiku—and a chance to stock up on hard-to-find art supplies.

A major highlight of the trip was a visit to a famous art supply store in Kyoto, founded by a painter in 1863 and still run by his descendants. At the one-room Saiun-do (“Painted Clouds”), I found the fine brushes, made of weasel hair and bamboo, for which I had spent years searching. I also scored a fragrant new sumi ink stick and several ceramic pots of special "gansai" watercolors that are found only in Japan.

Later, I painted the Japanese maple leaves shown here with my new brushes, delighting in their smoothness on the page. How liberating to find brushes that work with me, not against me!

Through sheer serendipity, I was able to see woodblock art prints by one of my favorite artists, Hiroshige, at four different museums around the country. Ukiyo-e (literally, “pictures of the floating world”) were hugely popular in the Edo period, when the merchant class enjoyed decorating their walls with prints of beautiful geisha, kabuki actors and landscapes. "The Great Wave off Kanagawa" by Hokusai is probably the best-known example of ukiyo-e in the West.

It is estimated that in the 1850s, four to five million ukiyo-e were printed every year! The visual style, in which thin black outlines were filled in with blocks of color, was the forerunner of manga (Japanese-style comics). It also deeply influenced the beautiful anime (Japanese animated films) by director Hayao Miyazake, among others.

Annette Makino buys Japanese art supplies at Saiun-do in Kyoto, Japan in June 2016.

Annette Makino buys Japanese art supplies at Saiun-do in Kyoto, Japan in June 2016.

But it was only on returning home this summer that I realized how much my own art owes to ukiyo-e. Though painted on paper rather than carved into wood, my paintings typically consist of thin outlines of black sumi ink that bound areas of color. And my art, like Hiroshige’s in his day, is mainly intended to be printed and enjoyed by many, rather than hung in fine art museums.

I came to Japan to study the old masters—and found a part of myself.

rice paper moon
pine trees brush
the inky sky

Makino Studios News

North Country Fair: Humboldters, come celebrate the fall equinox at the 43rd annual North Country Fair on the Arcata Plaza this Saturday and Sunday! The fair runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. both days. There will be 170 art and craft vendors, three music and entertainment stages, local food booths, activities for kids, and a daily parade at 1 p.m. Come visit my Makino Studios booth on G Street near Moore’s Sleepworld!

New2017 calendars: For the fourth year in a row, I have created a mini-calendar of my art and haiku. Featuring animals, landscapes, and other scenes from nature, the 2017 calendars have just come off the press and will debut at the fair. They can also be ordered through the Makino Studios shop on Etsy.

New keychains: I have designed two different wooden keychains featuring my art and haiku, one of a playful dog and one of a Humboldt redwood. These laser-engraved keychains will be offered at the fair this weekend and are also available on Etsy.

New card designs: Heirloom tomatoes, redwood forests, and river landscapes are the subjects of some of my latest greeting cards, due off the press this week. Check them out at the fair or the Makino Studios Etsy shop.

Seabeck Haiku Getaway: This fun and inspiring haiku retreat takes place Oct. 27-30 in Seabeck, Washington next month. I will be presenting on my trip to Japan with photos and haiku. I look forward to playing and learning with other haiku poets in a beautiful natural setting!

Journey to Japan

“the time we are given” is 11×14, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper. © Annette Makino 2014

“the time we are given” is 11×14, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper. © Annette Makino 2014

Well, I’ve been back from Japan for almost a month now, and I still can't begin to describe this heart-expanding trip. Much as I had planned and anticipated the journey (see my last post, Eastward ho!), it was even better than I could have imagined.

Over three weeks in June, my family and I explored serene Zen gardens and bustling city streets. We spent one day hiking the ancient Nakasendo trail between post towns, and another day hiking through ten thousand vermillion torii gates at a shrine in Kyoto.

We climbed to the top of a 400-year old castle and we soaked in mountain hot springs. We shopped in glitzy malls, a temple flea market, and a tiny paintbrush store founded in 1863. At an alley bar with just nine seats, we heard a Japanese duo play American jazz. Inside the moat of a wooden castle, we happened on a free concert by a popular boy band. We hiked through bamboo forests and flew past rice paddies on bullet trains.

There are about ten thousand gates at the Fushimi Inari shrine in Kyoto.

There are about ten thousand gates at the Fushimi Inari shrine in Kyoto.

We were mystified by the high-tech toilets with explanatory signs only in Japanese—a member of our party, who wishes to remain anonymous, learned the hard way that the big red button is not for flushing, but to call an attendant in case of emergency! One day at a busy Kyoto subway station, we encountered about a hundred massive sumo wrestlers, all wearing colorful summer kimonos and top knots.

We were amused by the odd English translations, like the restaurant offering “pig hormone soaked in a pot.” At the Meiji shrine in Tokyo, among the hand-lettered prayers for good health and high exam scores, we found one we could relate to: “I pray that America doesn’t elect Donald Trump.”

Kenroku-en garden in Kanazawa is considered one of the top three gardens in Japan.

Kenroku-en garden in Kanazawa is considered one of the top three gardens in Japan.

Our 19-year old daughter Maya, whose main exposure to Japan had been the animated films of Hayao Miyazaki, kept exclaiming, “This is so frickin’ dope! It’s like anime, only real life!”

Our 14-year old son Gabriel ate everything in sight, from breakfasts of grilled fish and pickled vegetables to chunks of battered octopus passed among bar patrons. But he passed on the sardine tea offered at one ramen joint, even though the sign promised, “Tastes like a junior high student.”

A Makino family cemetery in Kurabuchi, Gunma prefecture, goes back ten generations.

A Makino family cemetery in Kurabuchi, Gunma prefecture, goes back ten generations.

We also visited with my relatives, enjoying their warm hospitality and hearing about the Makino family's samurai ancestry.

A highlight was spending a day at Makino Brewery in the mountains beyond Takasaki, a business run by my second cousin which has been making award-winning sake for 320 years. Near the brewery, by a bamboo grove, is the Makino temple and a family cemetery where ten generations of Makinos are buried.

Annette Makino takes in the peaceful garden at the Nezu Museum in Tokyo.

Annette Makino takes in the peaceful garden at the Nezu Museum in Tokyo.

The beauty of Japan flooded my mind and heart. I’m sure I will draw inspiration from this trip for years to come. It was a great blessing to celebrate Makino Studios’ fifth anniversary with this “bucket list” family adventure. Thanks to all who made this trip possible by supporting my artistic journey along the way!

the time we are given . . .
sparks rise through darkness
to join the stars

(tinywords 14.2)

Annette Makino surrounded by husband Paul, daughter Maya and son Gabriel in Tsumago at the end of a day of hiking the Nakasendo trail.

Annette Makino surrounded by husband Paul, daughter Maya and son Gabriel in Tsumago at the end of a day of hiking the Nakasendo trail.

Makino Studios News

More Japan photos: If you'd like to see more images of our trip to Japan (mostly shot on my iPhone 6S), I've temporarily made this Facebook album public.

Summer retreat: The week of July 30-August 7, I’ll be relaxing and painting at a cabin on the Klamath River. If you would like to place an order through the MakinoStudios Etsy shop, please do so before or after that week.

North Country Fair: Humboldters, mark your calendars for the 43nd annual North Country Fair on the Arcata Plaza September 17-18! I'll have paintings, prints, cards and new 2017 calendars at the Makino Studios booth on G Street near 9th.