North Coast Open Studios

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.

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.

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

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.