Makino Studios

When doubts creep in

“plain brown bulb” is 8x10, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper and digitally edited. It is available as a  birthday card reading “happy birthday to the one and only you.”  © Annette Makino 2016

“plain brown bulb” is 8x10, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper and digitally edited. It is available as a birthday card reading “happy birthday to the one and only you.” © Annette Makino 2016

A woman I recently met at a dinner party told me that she has one of my cards on her altar, right next to a card featuring the Dalai Lama. (The card is shown below.) I am honored and touched that my art means so much to her.

Her story comes at an opportune time, as I must confess I’ve been having one of my periodic phases of doubt about my art business.

I sold more than 12,000 cards last year, plus 500-plus calendars and many paintings and prints. Yet I still wonder: is this art gig worthwhile? Yes, it’s incredibly rewarding to create art that touches people. But as chief cook and brush washer at Makino Studios, I also do an awful lot of accounting, order fulfillment, and marketing, among other uninspiring tasks.

again these doubts
a fresh crop of mushrooms
sprouts on the porch

My inner critic has a few more pointed questions, such as: Is your art really any good? Is it truly original? At a time when our country and environment are in peril, is this the best use of your energy? Does the world really need more pretty pictures and poetry?

I’m not in it for the money— just ask my tax accountant! But with freedom from financial pressure comes the work of deciding your values and priorities. When you can spend your days doing (almost) anything you want, that leaves you with some big choices to make. 

In some ways, it sounds pretty appealing to just lie on the couch nibbling chocolate all day. But as the late Mary Oliver asked, “Listen—are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?”

Say I manage to shoo away the inner critic and affirm that creating art and haiku is my top priority. It’s not so simple to define or measure the success of my work. Is it the satisfaction of creative expression? Positive responses from customers and fans? Increasing sales, haiku publications and awards? Feeling I am making a difference in the world? 

Thinking about it, I realize that all of those elements are happening to one degree or another—and they are all intertwined. If these are my markers of success, then never mind the profit/loss statement: I believe my art biz is flourishing and my time is well-spent. Or at least until the next crop of doubts pops up…

plain brown bulb
the mystery
of becoming

“through sun and cloud” is 5x7, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper. It is available as a  greeting card . © Annette Makino 2013

“through sun and cloud” is 5x7, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper. It is available as a greeting card. © Annette Makino 2013

Makino Studios News

15% off greeting cards: In January I raised my card prices for the first time since starting my business in 2011. Single cards now retail for $4.50 each. But you can use promo code 6CARDS at checkout to receive 15% off any six or more single cards. 

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 for the situation, with or without a haiku, as you prefer. Sizes and prices are variable.

Studio visits: I don’t have any public events planned right now, but you can visit my studio by appointment; just email or call me at the contacts below. I look forward to connecting!

Every day is a gift . . .

“evening stars” is 11x14, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper. It is also available as a  signed print , or as a  greeting card  reading “peace be with you.” © Annette Makino 2018

“evening stars” is 11x14, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper. It is also available as a signed print, or as a greeting card reading “peace be with you.” © Annette Makino 2018

Well, I wanted to write a heartfelt and inspiring new year’s message, one that summed up this crazy year and offered sparks of hope for 2019. 

Despite the madness emanating from the “very stable genius” in the White House and his enablers, despite the increasingly dire consequences of climate change, there is much for which I’m grateful. That includes my family, a beautiful and supportive place to live and meaningful work as an artist and haiku poet.

evening stars . . .
one by one counting
our blessings

Among these “blessings” was an unexpected and speedy way to drop those holiday pounds: a bout of food poisoning! As one of my cards says, “every day is a gift—sometimes it’s fruitcake.” 

Consequently, I don’t have the energy to write much today. So let me just cut to the chase: thank you for supporting my art, and here’s wishing you all the best for the new year!

“every day is a gift” is 5x7, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper. It is available as a  greeting card . © Annette Makino 2014

“every day is a gift” is 5x7, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper. It is available as a greeting card. © Annette Makino 2014

Makino Studios News

Haiku award: I’m honored that the following haiku, published in Frogpond 41:3, has won the Museum of Haiku Literature Award, presented by the Haiku Society of America:

fog-shrouded coast
we listen
to the view

2019 calendar of art and haiku: Could you use a small 2019 calendar which serves as a rotating monthly art show? I’ve still got a few in stock!

Thank you cards: With the holidays over, it’s time for thank you cards! I offer boxed sets of eight sweet little wildflower notecards with kraft envelopes.

Happy heart today

I just read this great tweet: “So my 3 year old appears to have misheard the phrase ‘happy holiday’ this morning and has been going round wishing everybody ‘happy heart today’.” 

Isn’t that just perfect? Beyond the presents and parties, this kid has perfectly distilled the essence of the holiday spirit—to wish for everyone a happy heart. 

At the Arcata holiday fair recently, I got to connect with a number of my fans. It’s a lot of work, but I do these occasional in-person events in part because they provide a great opportunity for me to understand my customers and to market test designs. The gradual emptying of my shelves and the swelling of my money belt is the most elemental form of market research!

More importantly, by hearing stories from customers and getting feedback on what they love about my art, I find renewed inspiration for doing the work that I do. Since I am not in this business for the big bucks, the deeply felt compliments mean the world to me!

So this holiday season, I just want to say thank you to all my customers and friends near and far for your support of my art. You make my heart happy. In these turbulent times, I feel especially blessed to have meaningful work creating art that inspires, delights and connects. Here’s wishing you all happy holidays and a happy heart today.

may peace
in our hearts
spread peace
in the world

Artist Annette Makino in her Arcata studio.

Artist Annette Makino in her Arcata studio.

Makino Studios News

Raffle winner: Congratulations to Katie U., who won $40 in store credit at the Makino Studios raffle at the Holiday Craft Market in Arcata, CA.

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

2019 calendar: This 2019 mini-calendar of art and haiku makes a great holiday gift—and a thoughtful present for yourself! Contact me about discounts on two or more.

For Humboldters: You can find a wide selection of my prints at Blake’s Books in McKinleyville. You can also visit my studio between Arcata and Blue Lake by appointment.

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!

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.  

A life well-lived

“heirloom tomato” is 11×14, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper. It is available as a  greeting card  reading, “may you find life so sweet and juicy it drips off your elbows.” © Annette Makino 2016

“heirloom tomato” is 11×14, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper. It is available as a greeting card reading, “may you find life so sweet and juicy it drips off your elbows.” © Annette Makino 2016

My pioneering great-aunt, Helli Stehle, died in Basel, Switzerland this past Sunday at age 109. As I described in “A trail-blazing woman” last November, she was a well-known stage actor who then became Switzerland’s first female newscaster, serving as a mentor and role model to many younger journalists.

She was a spirited, smart and funny woman, generous and deeply loyal to her extended family. We miss her already. But what a full life she got to lead!

The end of her reign as Switzerland’s oldest living citizen has made me think anew about the trials and rewards of aging. At 54, I am encountering many unexpected details of getting older. For instance, who knew that you could get wrinkles on your earlobes? Or down the bridge of your nose?

I used to have such sharp hearing that I would often hear other people talking about me (typically speculating on my ethnic background; sometimes just wondering where I got my ice cream cone). But when I wash dishes these days, I have to remind my kids,“I can’t hear what you’re saying when the faucet is running,” just as my exasperated mother repeatedly told my sisters and me.

At the same time, what freedom comes with age! Freedom from caring what other people think of me; from trying to meet external measures of success; from judgment about myself or others. As a result, I am taking more risks and trying new things.

Earlier this year, I joined five other women in my choir to perform a hip hop dance during a concert for about 800 people. Even though the choreography did not involve spinning on our heads or landing in a split, it was a real physical and mental stretch to learn. But what fun to perform a dance for the first time since I was 17—and to find it was still possible!

In 2008, a few months after Helli Stehle’s 100th birthday, the Basler Beobachter ran a feature about her pioneering role in Swiss radio.

In 2008, a few months after Helli Stehle’s 100th birthday, the Basler Beobachter ran a feature about her pioneering role in Swiss radio.

Overall, I find a richness and ease in these so-called “golden years” worth far more than a flat belly and the ability to remember names. I wouldn’t choose to go back even one year. And considering I am less than half of Helli’s age when she died, who knows what adventures still lie ahead. I owe it to her to find out!

heirloom tomato
finally comfortable
in my own skin

Makino Studios News

Free shipping for Labor Day weekend: Get free shipping on any US order of $5 or more in my Etsy shop with code LABOR17. Sale runs Saturday through Monday, September 2-4.

New cards: I have five new card designs coming off the press tomorrow! You can check them out in the MakinoStudios Etsy shop. Choose any six designs for $19.99 plus tax and shipping.

2018 calendars: For the fifth year in a row, I’ve designed a mini-calendar of art and haiku. This year’s features local landscapes, dogs, cats and flowers, and I think it’s my best yet! It’s currently being printed and will be available starting in mid-September.

Food Art Show Reception: As part of Local Food Month, the Humboldt Food Policy Council is hosting a Food Art Show. Stop by the Redwood Arts Association Gallery in Eureka (603 F Street) through September to enjoy the food-inspired paintings and drawings of over a dozen local artists, myself included. An artists’ reception will be held during Arts Alive! this Saturday, September 2, from 6-9 p.m.

North Country Fair: Celebrate the fall equinox at the 44th annual North Country Fair in Arcata the weekend of Sept. 16-17! This festive event features 200 booths, live music on two stages, and two parades. I'll have the new cards and calendars at the Makino Studios booth on G Street near 9th.

Instagram et cetera: I am now on Instagram as annettemakino. Follow me as I figure out this newfangled platform that all the youngsters are into! You can also get news, fresh art and haiku on my Makino Studios Facebook page and my Twitter feed.

The haiku “heirloom tomato” was first published in Frogpond, Issue 40.2, Spring-Summer 2017.

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!