inspiration

The seeds of inspiration

“the stories waiting inside” is 11×14, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper. It is available as a  greeting card reading, “in redwood years, you’re still a seedling—happy birthday!”  © Annette Makino 2017

“the stories waiting inside” is 11×14, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper. It is available as a greeting card reading, “in redwood years, you’re still a seedling—happy birthday!” © Annette Makino 2017

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:

sprung
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!)

the stories
waiting inside
redwood seedling

“river flow – Klamath” is 11×14, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper. It is available as a  greeting card reading, “what a joy to know you—happy birthday!”  © Annette Makino 2017

“river flow – Klamath” is 11×14, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper. It is available as a greeting card reading, “what a joy to know you—happy birthday!” © Annette Makino 2017

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.

river flow
returning us
to ourselves

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
he surrenders

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

Sociable: I am now on on Instagram as annettemakino. You can also get news, fresh art and haiku on my Makino Studios Facebook page and my Twitter feed.

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.

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.