beach

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.  

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.

New year, new chapter

“Happy New Year” is 5×7, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper. © Annette Makino 2015

“Happy New Year” is 5×7, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper.
© Annette Makino 2015

If you knew you had one more year to live, what would you do differently? I sometimes ask myself this question—not out of morbid fixation, but as a simple way to clarify priorities and make sure I’m on track. Recently, I got a surprising answer: “Paint bigger.”

A couple weeks ago, I got the chance to try this out. I was commissioned to make a painting on a 6’ x 4’ sheet of plywood to hang outdoors in Arcata’s revitalized Creamery District. After debating what to paint for awhile, I found my inspiration from a trip to nearby Luffenholtz Beach with my family, where my husband threw sticks for several dogs.

After years of careful work with the delicate and unforgiving materials of sumi ink, watercolor, and paper, what fun to splatter great quantities of cheap house paint onto knotty plywood! I stretched my arm as far as I could reach using big fat brushes, and even used an old t-shirt of my daughter’s to smear on the clouds.

When one of the three dogs I painted turned out too big, I simply painted over it and redid it instead of having to start the piece over completely, as I would have with ink and watercolor. The stakes were low, the rewards were high. I feel the finished painting, pictured below, captures the sense of joy and motion in that day at the ocean. And hopefully also the joyful energy I felt in creating it.

Who knows where this will lead? My pragmatic side has a lot of annoying questions: What would you do with a bunch of plywood sheet paintings? Would they still work for card and calendar art? If not, what then? Are you really switching mediums? How would you reproduce the images? Et cetera.

I am trying to quiet the mind and just let the process unfold. Trying to be OK with the potentially impractical and awkward results. Trying not to think too much about results, period.

Putting the finishing touches on “Luffenholtz Beach,” 72×48, house paint on plywood. © Annette Makino 2015

Putting the finishing touches on “Luffenholtz Beach,” 72×48, house paint on plywood.
© Annette Makino 2015

So, if you had one more year to live, what would you try that is uncertain and new and exciting? What would you do differently? Happy exploring, and happy new year!

warmly, Annette Makino

Makino Studios News

2016 calendar: My wall calendar of art and haiku, featuring twelve of my paintings of landscapes, animals and flowers, is available online and in some local stores.

Best haiku of the year: Red Moon Press is about to publish galaxy of dust: The Red Moon Anthology of English-Language Haiku 2015. I am honored to be included in the 20th edition of this most-awarded series in the history of haiku in English.

fox tracks . . .
who was I before
I was tamed?

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.

Lights out

“what remains” is 5×7, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on textured paper.

“what remains” is 5×7, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on textured paper.

My son Gabriel is an unusual kid: while other twelve-year old boys like to play video games, he prefers to watch BBC science documentaries. So much so, in fact, that his dreams have included a narrator with a British accent.

He has matter-of-factly explained to me that the average mammal species lasts about one million years. On a planet more than four billion years old, that’s the blink of an eye. This means that Homo sapiens, the clever species that tamed fire and invented the iPhone, could be gone before we know it.

lights out
we discuss
our extinction

What with all the grocery lists and oil changes of everyday life, it’s easy to lose the grand perspective. But the truth is that for all our striving, even the most influential and famous of our species—President Obama, Pope Francis, Oprah Winfrey—will be forgotten long before the pebbles on the beach turn to sand.

Yes, there is something sad about all this. Billions of people work hard every day to make it through this life and to leave something of lasting value. Yet in geological time, all this effort will amount to approximately nothing.

At the same time, I find some reassurance in taking the (very) long view. It puts our human insanities in perspective, and enables a sort of Zen detachment from the grim daily headlines. Keeping the big picture in mind helps me find a sense of lightness and acceptance of our predicament.

what remains
of the mountain
sand between my toes

OK, so nothing I can do in my time here will last longer than the flap of a butterfly’s wing. Ultimately, this helps clarify what’s really important. Not money, degrees, titles, or fame. Not even the amazing children my husband and I are raising: in a hundred years, we’ll all be history.

At the risk of sounding too woo-woo, I’ve come to feel that what matters—and what may be the only real and lasting thing—is the energy and intention that we put out in the world as we do our work. Call it spirit. Call it love. And no matter how much time we are given, no matter how long our species survives, let’s make the best of it, and call it good.

“what remains” was first published as a haiku in With Cherries on Top, Ed. Michael Dylan Welch, Press Here (2012), and reprinted in this world:Haiku Society of America Members' Anthology (2013). The art was first published on Haigaonline (December 2013).

Makino Studios News

Wet Paint: Ten new haiga (haiku paintings) have been posted to the Current Work section of the Gallery on this site.

Red Moon Anthology: The poem below was selected for a just-published collection of the best haiku of 2013, fear of dancing: The Red Moon Anthology of English-Language Haiku 2013, edited by Jim Kacian:

cowlick
some part of me
still wild

Annette’s Blog: For previous posts, including this one from June 2012 on Gabriel’s scientific perspectives, see Parallel Universes.

NaHaiWriMo: February is National Haiku Writing Month. Get daily prompts and share your efforts on the NaHaiWriMo Facebook page.