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!

Remembering the Great East Japan Earthquake

“when someone you love” is 11×14, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper, and digitally edited. It is available as a  sympathy card . © Annette Makino 2016

“when someone you love” is 11×14, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper, and digitally edited. It is available as a sympathy card. © Annette Makino 2016

I’m writing on the fifth anniversary of the devastating earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in Japan. It’s so hard to lose someone you love; multiply that grief by the nearly 16,000 people killed in the 2011 disaster, and the amount of suffering unleashed is overwhelming.

In addition, more than 200,000 people are still displaced from their homes, and the Fukushima nuclear plant continues to dump radioactive water into the sea.

And yet, we are such a resilient species. Japan is busy rebuilding, restoring and recovering.

My husband Paul happens to be in Hiroshima today, chaperoning a group of high school students. He reports that the city has emerged from the horror of the atomic bombing to become a lovely and vibrant place. The people of Hiroshima have transcended the nightmare of the past.

I’m sharing two paintings here. The piece above is a recent painting of an egret flying over a tilted marsh landscape. The words are adapted from a poem I wrote for my father after he died four years ago; he would have been 86 tomorrow. The piece is a close-up and personal portrait of loss. (See On Love and Loss and a Man Named Quantum.)

“May a thousand cranes” is 9×12, painted with ink on rice paper. © Annette Makino 2011

“May a thousand cranes” is 9×12, painted with ink on rice paper. © Annette Makino 2011

I painted the piece of flying cranes, left, in March 2011, a couple days after the Great East Japan Earthquake. Along with my first-ever blog post, A Prayer for Japan, it interweaves my personal connection to Japan with a prayer for healing and recovery.

warmly, Annette Makino

Makino Studios News

New card designs: I have been busy painting, and just got eight new card designs back from the printer! You can find them in my Etsy shop or view them in my online gallery. They are also making their way into stores.

Kamome, The Boat of Hope: Two years after the tsunami, a small wooden boat from a high school in Japan washed up in Crescent City, California, about 75 miles north of Arcata. The Extraordinary Voyage of Kamome: A Tsunami Boat Comes Home tells the story of how the boat has linked two communities across the Pacific. Thisbeautifulchildren’s book was written by Lori Dengler and Amya Miller and illustrated by my friend Amy Uyeki.

Japan in June: My family is heading to Japan for three weeks in June! This will be our first trip there together. We are still planning our itinerary, but I am very much looking forward to finding new ideas and inspiration for art and haiku.

Twenty golden years


In May, my husband Paul and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary. While our wedding vows were “for better or for worse,” it’s been the best twenty years of our lives. We have had a lot of adventures since then. A year into our marriage, before Paul had even secured a tenure-track position at the university, we took a leap of faith and bought land near Arcata, then designed and built a unique house with a 25-foot wall of windows looking out onto redwoods and tree-covered hills.

We have had to contend with the many challenges of country living. At one point early on, our tap water showed high levels of e coli. Turned out our neighbor’s missing dog had chosen the spot just above our spring as his final resting place. (I’m happy to report that we’ve since dug a well.)

Our first child was born right on our sixth wedding anniversary . . . two and half weeks early . . .  at home . . . by accident. After “catching” the baby, my cool-headed husband snapped a photo, and only then called our nurse-midwife for instructions! (Note: If you ever have an unplanned home birth, dry the baby very thoroughly, then cut the tip off an old sock and use it for a baby hat.)

When we were expecting our second child, we felt brave enough to actually plan a home birth. But because my labor only lasted two hours, the midwife was not yet on hand for the birth. So Paul delivered our second child too, by candlelight, in the birthing tub set up in our living room. Well, as he likes to point out, he is a doctor—of philosophy.

Given our growing family, in 2002 we built a two-story addition to our home including a studio apartment, home office, and art studio. My mother moved in to help with the kids while they were small. She brought along her two pack llamas, Shandy and Dancer, and we often joined them on hikes on the timberland that adjoins our property.

Paul and I at our wedding in 1993.

Paul and I at our wedding in 1993.

When the kids were 10 and 6, Paul took a year’s sabbatical. We rented out our home and lived in Maryland and then a small town in northern Italy, where Paul taught an overseas course on the sources of great civilizations.

The kids’ home-schooling lessons included trips to the Coliseum in Rome, the Acropolis in Athens, and the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Our six-year-old soaked it all up and drew these monuments again and again on restaurant placemats across Europe. Meanwhile, our ten-year-old liked the outdoor markets and the chance to hang out with college students, but was unimpressed with her immersion in European history, summing up, “I learned the history of a dusty old brick.”

In 2009, we embarked on yet another big adventure: after twenty years, I left my executive position in international media development, and Paul simultaneously began the process of semi-retiring from his teaching career. Since then, I have had the tremendous gift of being able to focus my time on painting, writing, and developing an art business. Meanwhile, Paul teaches just four months of the year. As for the rest of his time:

retired professor
spends his days in the hot tub
his one-man think tank

Through all these experiences and more over the past two decades, Paul has been my partner and best friend. The poppy painting above is for my darling husband, who loves California poppies, honeybees, and me. This brilliant, funny man with a heart of gold helps me savor the richness of life, and is the key to all my other blessings.

“let us live” is 5" x 7", painted with sumi ink and Japanese gansai paint on paper. It is available as a print or greeting card.

Makino Studios News

North Country Fair: Look for the Makino Studios booth at the 40th annual North Country Fair in Arcata, California the weekend of September 21-22. I’ll have some new art as well as cards, prints, tee shirts and books of my work.

Seabeck Haiku Gathering:  I will be presenting on my haiga (art with haiku) at this fun and interesting haiku retreat in Seabeck, Washington October 10-13.

SoHum Art Show: My exhibit at Persimmons Garden Gallery, located at 1055 Redway Drive in Redway, California, has been extended through Sept. 11. Come on out and enjoy one of the last summer evenings with dinner and live music in the lovely garden.