art show

A trail-blazing woman

“with age comes wisdom” is 11×14, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper. It is available as a  birthday card . © Annette Makino 2015

“with age comes wisdom” is 11×14, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper. It is available as a birthday card. © Annette Makino 2015

Today I mailed this “wise owl” card to my great-aunt for her 109th birthday. No, that is not a typo. Helene “Helli” Stehle was born to a butcher and his wife on December 6, 1907, in Basel, Switzerland.

But longevity is by no means the most remarkable thing about Helli. This pioneering woman first achieved fame in Switzerland as a stage actor playing strong characters. She has always been a vibrant, strong-willed woman with a great zest for life, so I can imagine how riveting her performances must have been.

She gradually began working in radio, performing and directing plays and reciting poetry for Basel’s state-run radio station, Radiostudio Basel. With the outbreak of World War II, all her male colleagues were called to active duty. So in 1939, Helli became Switzerland’s first female newscaster. She was soon widely known through the region; when she was out in public, strangers would recognize her by her voice.

She eventually became the chief newscaster and a mentor to many younger journalists. Meanwhile, she continued to act in and direct radio plays until her retirement in 1967. She is now Switzerland’s oldest living actor.

My great-aunt never married or had children—in those days, only single women were allowed to work in state jobs. But she had one great love, Otto Crone, a calm and quiet actor who grew up in Russia. He eventually moved into another apartment in Helli’s building; over their decades together, Helli learned to speak Russian.

When I was eight, my adventurous aunt joined my family as we travelled around Japan, soaking in the communal baths and sleeping on the floor in traditional inns. On train rides, she and I enjoyed many conversations in a secret, nonsensical language we made up called “Bochisch.” And she would perform comic vignettes for my sisters and me again and again on request.

Deep into retirement, she continued to travel. On one trip to Russia, her suitcase got lost on the flight over, and she gamely spent the week wearing shirts borrowed from the gentlemen in her group. She took gymnastics and Russian conversation classes well into her 90s, and had a circle of dear friends, many of them much younger.

In 1939, Helli Stehle became the first woman newscaster in Switzerland, for Radiostudio Basel. She is seen here in 1955.

In 1939, Helli Stehle became the first woman newscaster in Switzerland, for Radiostudio Basel. She is seen here in 1955.

When Helli turned 100, the Basel radio station threw a big party in her honor where she was warmly feted. A few months later, she finally moved into an assisted living home, but she gave an interview as recently as 2010, on the occasion of her 103rd birthday.

Back in 1999, when my grandmother turned 100, her birthday party was attended by a Basel city official. He joked with my grandmother that he would be back in five years for her 105th. Ever witty, her sister Helli replied to him, “Ah, but whether you will still be around…?”

My grandmother lived to a ripe old 104. Who would ever have thought that her little sister would beat that record by five years and counting?

However much longer my dear aunt Helli sticks around, she has inspired me and countless others through her example as a powerful, creative woman, forging her own path.

leaping waves
all the strong women
before me

warmly, Annette Makino

UPDATE: Helli Stehle died in Basel, Switzerland on August 27, 2017. She was 109.

Makino Studios News

Mother's sculpture show: My mom, Erika Makino, took up sculpture around age 80, and now, at 88, she is showing her clay and cement pieces in a solo exhibit. The show opens this Friday, Dec. 2 in Ukiah, California (details in this Ukiah Daily Journal article).

Free shipping through November: Use shipping code FREESHIP2016 for free shipping in the US through this Wednesday, November 30 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: You can pick up my calendars, cards and prints at this fair of crafts and specialty foods handmade in Humboldt County. It runs through Dec. 24 at Pierson Garden Shop, 4100 Broadway Street, Eureka.

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.

Thanksgiving abundance

“warmest holiday wishes”  © 2015 Annette Makino

“warmest holiday wishes” © 2015 Annette Makino

As Thanksgiving approaches, I’m thinking about the fact that we in the U.S. have a holiday that is completely devoted to gathering with our loved ones and giving thanks. Isn't it cool that in deepest, darkest November, family and friends come together to share a feast that represents abundance? Covered in gravy, with a side of cranberry sauce.

I’m grateful to be enjoying a less stressful holiday season than usual. For this month and next, I’ve consciously stepped back from some commitments and opportunities just to keep from getting overwhelmed.

As a result, I’ve had time to exchange foot rubs with my daughter Maya, who is home from college this week; play hard-fought games of Scrabble with my son Gabriel; take long hikes in the redwoods with the whole family; and pursue a few new art projects.

Quality family and creative time: that to me is true abundance. But I won't say no to a slice of pumpkin pie—or two!

More fundamentally, I’m deeply thankful to be able to create and share my art with the world. The gravy is to hear from so many of you how this work brings people joy and meaning.

Happy Thanksgiving!

warmly, Annette Makino

Makino Studios News

Free Shipping: With thanks to you, my customers and supporters, I’m offering free shipping on orders of $20 or more from my Etsy shop. Through this coming Monday, Nov. 30, type in coupon code FREESHIP2015 at checkout to qualify. You’ll find new holiday and everyday cards, art prints and a 2016 calendar of art and haiku.

Made in Humboldt: A selection of my cards, prints and calendars is now available at the Garden Shop of Pierson Building Center in Eureka, CA  through Dec. 24.

Holiday Craft Market: Makino Studios will have a booth at this fair in the Arcata Community Center in Arcata, CA on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 12-13.

One brushstroke at a time

“water and stone” is 11×14, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper. Signed prints are available for $35. © 2015 Annette Makino

“water and stone” is 11×14, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper. Signed prints are available for $35. © 2015 Annette Makino

When I first tried sumi ink painting five years ago, I struggled. There was frustration. There was angst.

In this ancient medium, you grind an ink stick made of pine soot and glue in an ink stone with a few drops of water, then paint with bamboo brushes on rice paper. Sounds simple enough, right? But in practice, there are many ways to go wrong—and I excelled at all of them.

I ground the ink too thin and it dried sad and gray on the paper; I ground it too thick and my strokes ran out early, gasping for ink. I got too much water in the brush and my strokes grew wide and blobby. I moved my arm too slowly and the lines looked tentative; too quickly and the lines skipped and went awry.

But with the encouragement of family and friends, I kept plugging away.  Occasionally, almost by accident, a painting would work, and that was enough to keep me going.

water and stone
how we shape
each other

Multiplying the challenges, I soon added Japanese watercolors (gansai paints) to my pieces. And I gradually moved away from the simple lines and white backgrounds of traditional Japanese ink painting toward more colorful and detailed pieces—images involving tricky subjects like animal fur, water reflections or storm clouds. In the words of management guru Tom Peters, I learned to “fail forward fast.”

A sumi ink stick is ground in an ink stone with a bit of water. Traditionally, the resulting ink is applied onto rice paper with bamboo brushes. Photo © 2011 Yoshi Makino

A sumi ink stick is ground in an ink stone with a bit of water. Traditionally, the resulting ink is applied onto rice paper with bamboo brushes. Photo © 2011 Yoshi Makino

I feel oddly shy sharing this, but I’ve recently had a breakthrough. After years of effort in which my failed paintings ended up as wrapping paper, I think I may be getting the hang of this. Somehow, the dozen paintings I’ve created this summer radiate a new level of aliveness. The sea foam looks lighter, the flower petals more delicate, the river wetter.

blue brushstrokes
the sea laps the edge
of the page

I haven’t yet put in the requisite ten thousand hours of practice to achieve mastery. But I’m getting closer. A few days ago I hung a solo show of local Humboldt landscapes, called “Water & Earth,” and I feel it’s my strongest body of work to date. The journey continues, but I am pausing here to appreciate the view.

rice paper moon
pine trees brush
the inky sky

Makino Studios News

Water & Earth: My current show features landscape paintings inspired by Humboldt County’s beautiful wild places. It is on view at Libation on the plaza in Arcata, California through August 2015, along with my cards and prints.

North Country Fair: Celebrate the fall equinox at the 42nd annual North Country Fair in Arcata the weekend of Sept. 19-20. This festive event features 200 booths, live music on two stages, and two parades. My booth will be in the usual spot on G Street near 9th.

Fieldbrook Art & Wine Festival: The following weekend I’ll have a booth at this lovely event at the Fieldbrook Winery in Fieldbrook, California on Saturday, Sept. 26, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Seabeck Haiku Getaway: This fun and inspiring gathering of haiku poets takes place on Washington State’s beautiful Kitsap Peninsula Oct. 1-4. I will be giving a presentation of my haiga (haiku art) there.

Before we were tamed: Thanks so much to all who came to see Tina Gleave and me at Ramone’s in June during North Coast Open Studios and who visited our show!

Connecting: You can get news, fresh art and haiku on my Makino Studios Facebook page and my Twitter feed.

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.

Juicy bugs and other treats

Happy Haiku Poetry Day! To celebrate, I’m sharing a selection of the haiku and senryu I’ve had published in the past year. (And if, like most people, you were taught that haiku in English need to follow the 5-7-5 syllable pattern, think again. On his Graceguts site, haiku poet Michael Dylan Welch explains why that is an urban myth, and the secrets of how to write good haiku.)

Hereby resolved

The start of a new year is a time to consider constancy and change in our lives, to take a look at the big picture and make any needed adjustments. I’m not big on new year’s resolutions—it’s far too easy to fall short and disappoint yourself. But this year I’m making one resolution: simply to be more present, more of the time. With help from meditation, journaling, and long walks with the dog, my aim is to become more mindful. We can’t stop time, but we can experience it more deeply.