At 91, my mother still inspires me with all her creative energy. With an unexpected windfall, she just had an art studio built behind her house where she works on clay sculptures several days a week.
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’.”
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.
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.
the cat coughs up
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.
“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!
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.
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.
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.
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:
in my hat
Though I’ve been making art since I could hold a crayon, and have been a professional artist since 2011, I had never taken a watercolor class—until now. Next week will be my final session of a great sixteen-week class taught by esteemed artist Alan Sanborn.
Although the paint, brushes, paper and photorealistic approach are all different from my usual technique, I’ve gained so much from this class. I learned that to paint dark green trees, layering deep turquoise over orange can look more realistic than using green paint. Or how to use complementary colors for shadows: purple for a yellow banana or orange for a blue plate. Or even why it's worth spending $11 for a sheet of good watercolor paper!
Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I’ll share some examples of my assignments. And perhaps you’ll notice some evolution in my art over the coming months!
nothing and everything
in a pool of ink
People often ask me where I get my inspiration. I tell them that for writing haiku, it could be literally anything I experience. For instance, getting out of jury duty and going from the courthouse to the beach:
from jury duty
the wind in my hair
But for paintings, 90% of my ideas come from one place: nature. Whether hiking through sand dunes or exploring Arcata’s marsh and bird sanctuary, I find that spending time out in nature is a wellspring of creative ideas.
My family and I are wrapping up a summer of wilderness adventures. Hiking in the King Range along the Lost Coast, we stumbled on a colony of elephant seals, the males bellowing and grappling like sumo wrestlers.
We rented double kayaks and paddled around two islands on Humboldt Bay, slipping past harbor seals, herons and pelicans, and gaining a whole new perspective on our local geography.
In Prairie Creek State Park, we trekked through lush old-growth redwood forest, passing a lovely little waterfall and sword ferns growing taller than my head. It was a nine-mile hike in which we climbed the equivalent of 73 floors. (Undaunted, our 16-year old son Gabriel asked to be dropped off at tennis class on the drive back so he could play for a couple of hours!)
And this past weekend, the smoke from wildfires cleared just in time for us to get in one last, delicious weekend of swimming and sunning on the Klamath River, where we have gone every summer for the past twenty-one years.
Many of these experiences have given rise to art. Working from photos taken on my iPhone, I paint the beautiful places we’ve visited, which allows me to experience them all over again.
As for poetic inspiration, although I’m safe from jury duty for another year, there are always events large and small to inspire haiku. Even a mate's choice of bedtime reading!
War and Peace
a hundred pages in
Makino Studios News
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 170 booths, live entertainment on three stages, and two parades. I’ll have my newest cards and calendars at the Makino Studios booth on G Street near 9th.
2018 calendars: For the fifth year in a row, I’ve designed a mini-calendar of art and haiku. This year’s features landscapes, dogs, cats and flowers. It is now available online and is coming to stores soon. These make great holiday gifts!
New haiga: I’ve posted several new haiga (art that includes haiku) in the Makino Studios online gallery. Many of these appear in the new calendar.
Newest cards: Check out my latest card designs in the MakinoStudios Etsy shop. You can choose any six designs for $19.99 plus tax and shipping
Connecting: I so appreciate whenever someone takes the time to respond to these posts, and I read and answer every message.
“War and Peace” published in Frogpond, Issue 40.2, Spring-Summer 2017.