I’m always fascinated to learn how other people go about their work, whether it’s developing cookbook recipes or rehabilitating abandoned dogs. So in the hopes that this is of interest, today I’ll share a bit about my artistic process.
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.
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
The news has been so tough these past few weeks. Wildfires, hurricanes, flooding, earthquakes. Reckless taunts between nuclear-armed leaders. And Monday in Las Vegas, one of the worst mass shootings in US history.
a pair of cowboy boots
lying on their side
In such dark times, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. And just as easy to go numb. Facing an unending stream of suffering and horror, how do we maintain our humanity without losing our minds?
There are no easy answers for how to balance all this—though a quick Google search for “Ways to Cope with the Apocalypse” offers up 1.6 million results! Yes, I have sent money to Puerto Rico, called my representatives, prayed for the victims. But it never feels like enough.
Meanwhile, here in my small corner of the world, life is so rich and sweet I almost feel guilty. Our home has clean running water, plenty of food, electricity. We are all healthy, which is huge. This past week, in between seeing memorable plays in Ashland, Oregon and touring an artisanal chocolate factory with my family, I’ve gotten to take several hikes with my husband and our dog.
scent of wood smoke
the way our shadows
Throughout, I’ve been trying to reconcile the grim world news with my sunny reality. I still don't know anything for sure. But I'm coming to think that, rather than feeling guilty about how much I have, my real challenge may be to appreciate it fully, while taking nothing for granted. At the risk of sounding trite, there is power in radiating peace and gratitude to others around us, knowing that happiness is contagious. There can be healing even in a smile.
Even though—or especially because—I know they could disappear in a heartbeat, I am deeply grateful for all my blessings.
the sky the color
Makino Studios News
Mark your calendar for holiday fairs: Makino Studios will be at two fairs in December: the Humboldt Artisans Crafts & Music Festival, held December 1-3 at Redwood Acres in Eureka, and Arcata's Holiday Craft Market, held December 9-10 in the Arcata Community Center. In addition, some of my work will be for sale at the “Made in Humboldt” event at Pierson Garden Shop November 14-December 24.
2018 calendars: My mini-calendar of art and haiku is available online and in local stores. These make great holiday gifts!
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
Humboldt County is famous for two things: its magical old-growth redwood forests and perhaps equally magical marijuana. But there is a lesser-known feature that makes this area unique: it has more working artists per capita than any other part of California.
Each year in June, some 150 Humboldt artists open their studio doors to the public as part of North Coast Open Studios. Earlier this month, it was my pleasure to be part of the "Seven in Samoa" group that hosted visitors the first weekend. The following weekend, I got to tour nine studios.
In visiting other artists, I was inspired and moved by much of their art. But it was just as interesting to talk with these working artists and learn about what goes on at the other end of the paintbrush. I discovered we are grappling with some of the same issues.
A common theme of our conversations was the tension between making art that purely expresses our creativity versus making art that we know will sell. For instance, one artist is currently drawn to images of melancholy women, but knows there is a much bigger market for her playful pieces of cats.
Another sells a lot of art postcards with inspiring quotes, but her passion project is a scrapbook of sketches and thoughts about silent meditation retreats, though she knows the market for such a book is very limited.
For my part, I sometimes find myself painting simply because it’s time for a new card catalog. Instead of “What do I really want to express about my core being?,” the “helpful” and persistent voice inside my head asks a much less inspiring question, “What would make for a good birthday card?”
Another common theme of my Open Studios conversations was the competing demands on our time: we need to spend time managing and marketing our business, but that cuts into the time to actually create. And it's hard for me to compartmentalize: when I know I have orders to fill or an event to publicize, I can't get into the open, spacious frame of mind I need to paint.
Finally, an underlying issue that emerged from talking with other artists was, what does success mean to me as a working artist? Is it measured by sales? Reputation? Appreciation from buyers? Personal satisfaction from the joy of creating? While it’s surely some combination of all of these, it’s challenging to find the right balance, especially in a culture that confuses money with worth.
Overall, I came away from Open Studios without clearcut answers, yet comforted to know that I am not alone: even the most successful artists struggle with these dilemmas. It was inspiring to meet so many passionate, committed people who have chosen to walk this sometimes difficult path. We may never get rich from our art (though I'm not opposed to that!), but we are certainly rich in spirit.
summer solstice . . .
the skipping stone
all the way across
Makino Studios News
Seven in Samoa: The Eureka Times-Standard ran this story about the group of artists that showcased our work together as part of North Coast Open Studios.
Summer vacation: Happy solstice! I’ll be on vacation from this Saturday, June 24 until Sunday, July 2. While I am swimming and painting at the Klamath River (depicted in the above image), my Makino Studios Etsy shop will be closed for the week and I will not be filling store orders.
Westhaven Wild Blackberry Festival: Rabia O’Loren will be selling a selection of my cards and prints at this festival on Sunday, July 30, 10-4 at the Westhaven Volunteer Fire Department.
North Country Fair: Mark your calendar for this two-day festival celebrating the fall equinox, taking place September 16-17 on the Arcata Plaza!
It seems like an eon ago when I last wrote, in the final days of the Obama presidency. I was anxious about putting my political opinions out in this forum, not knowing how many others shared my views about the dark turn our democracy has taken.
I needn't have worried. Aside from four unsubscribes, the response I got was overwhelmingly positive. And nationwide, starting with the Women’s Marches that drew a remarkable 1% of the US population to the streets, the resistance to the Trump agenda is proving to be deep and wide.
So far, this administration is even more dreadful than I feared. As a result, life has entered a new normal. I write, paint and sing with my choir as before, but now, on Tuesdays at noon, over bowls of homemade soup, I join several dozen other local folks at Power Lunch Humboldt to make calls to our representatives. It nourishes my soul to join with other committed citizens to reclaim our democracy, one phone call at a time.
And in this time of daily assaults against reason, compassion and integrity, I have to be careful how much news I consume. The goal is to stay informed without feeling overwhelmed by the daily outrages. Periodic “fasts” from news media, Facebook and Twitter help to maintain that balance. This is a marathon, not a sprint, and we are all having to learn how to stay engaged without burning out.
Meanwhile, spring is sproinging. Down the lane, my favorite cherry tree is in bloom; in the yard, the daffodils are exploding with color; and this morning at the marsh, the sparrows were singing their hearts out.
If we are to maintain the energy to resist over the months and years to come, we need to take extra good care of ourselves. For me that means spending time in nature, connecting with friends and family, and finding reasons for gratitude in the everyday. Despite the madness in Washington, DC, I wish you moments of joy in this time of renewal. Happy spring!
warmly, Annette Makino
Makino Studios News
Free shipping for Poetry Month: Since April is National Poetry Month, and April 17 is International Haiku Poetry Day, I am offering free shipping for US orders of $15 or more through the Makino Studios Etsy store. Use code SPRING2017 through April 30.
Twelve new card designs: A soaring hawk, frisky dog, and redwood trail are among a dozen new and updated greeting card designs just listed in the Makino Studios Etsy store.
Open Studios: Mark your calendars for North Coast Open Studios! Once again, I will join silk painter Tina Gleave, plus five other women artists, at the Samoa Women’s Club for the first weekend. We’ll kick off from 6-9 p.m. on Friday, June 2 and continue from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, June 3-4. We'll be showing new art, demonstrating our tools and techniques, and offering free refreshments.
Connecting: I deeply appreciate the outpouring of positive responses to my last post about our political situation. You can also get news, art and haiku on my Makino Studios Facebook page and my Twitter feed.
“sunlit pond” was published in A Hundred Gourds, Issue 5:3, June 2016
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.
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.
all the strong women
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.