nature

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.

Light in a time of darkness

“every cell awake” is 5×7, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper. The original commissioned piece has sold, but a birthday card version is available. © Annette Makino 2016

“every cell awake” is 5×7, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper. The original commissioned piece has sold, but a birthday card version is available. © Annette Makino 2016

For years, I’ve been content to live a quiet life in the woods with my family—writing, painting, soaking in the hot tub and going for long walks on the beach. In retrospect, because it seemed that the country was basically going in the right direction, I took our beautiful, messy, multicultural democracy for granted.

November’s election results were a shocking illustration that our democratic system is much more fragile than we realized. To many of us, the worst of it was not the denial of the popular vote. Not the lies, insults, and ugly revelations of the campaign. Not the Russian government’s hacking or their mysterious hold over Donald Trump. Not the FBI director’s last-minute election interference.

No, the worst was the discovery that so many of our fellow Americans—about a quarter of eligible voters—would voluntarily choose a racist, misogynistic, climate change-denying demagogue to represent us. I have to believe that Trump voters genuinely felt he was the best choice for president. But as a woman, a minority, and a child of immigrants, I struggle not to take this personally.

aftermath
this deep blue state
of mind

While still grieving, I have been inspired to take action. As President Obama said in his farewell speech last week, "Our Constitution is a remarkable, beautiful gift. But it's really just a piece of parchment. It has no power on its own. We, the people, give it power - with our participation, and the choices we make."

So since the election, along with hundreds of thousands of others, I have been phoning Members of Congress, writing letters, and donating to environmental and other groups.

Tomorrow, I will be walking and singing at a freedom march honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. We can learn much from the civil rights movement about the power of nonviolent action over time.

And next Saturday, January 21, I will take part in the Women’s March in Eureka, CA, one of some 300 women’s marches held around the country and the world in tandem with the big one in Washington, DC.

“new chapter” is 5×7, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper. It is available as a small print and is included in my 2017 calendar. © Annette Makino 2016

“new chapter” is 5×7, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper. It is available as a small print and is included in my 2017 calendar. © Annette Makino 2016

Political activism was not my priority for 2017—or ever. And I have hesitated to share this piece because I know not all my customers and store buyers share my politics. But the threats that our nation and our planet now face transcend all that. As Dr. King once said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

If there is a silver lining to the coming administration, it is that it could usher in a new era of political engagement by everyone who feels unrepresented and disrespected by our president-elect. And beyond politics, I hope the election will commit us, with “every cell awake,” to put love into action however and whenever we can.

Dr. King said, “Only in the darkness can you see the stars.” Let this time of darkness inspire us all to shine more brightly.

warmly, Annette Makino

Makino Studios News

Red Moon Anthology: I’m honored that the following haiku made it into dust devils: The Red Moon Anthology of English-Language Haiku 2016, an annualcollection of the best haiku of the year:

edge of the woods
some things I may not
want to know

(originally published in The Heron’s Nest, XVII:3, September 2016)

Still need a calendar? A few of my 2017 mini-calendars of art and haiku are available online ($11.99).

Art Prints: I have just listed several signed 11x14 art prints in the Makino Studios Etsy shop.

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.