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Just putting it out there

“did someone say cake?” is 8x10, Japanese watercolor and sumi ink on paper. The original does not have words. The card is available  here . A haiku version may follow if I get inspired! © Annette Makino 2018

“did someone say cake?” is 8x10, Japanese watercolor and sumi ink on paper. The original does not have words. The card is available here. A haiku version may follow if I get inspired! © Annette Makino 2018

As I'm painting and preparing for North Coast Open Studios this weekend, I’m feeling excited about showing my art to the public. A painting doesn’t fully come alive for me until it is shared with others. And I love hearing stories from my customers and getting ideas from them.

But there is also a part of me that is feeling shy about the exposure—and not just because I’m an introvert! It feels risky to put my work out there for all to see, knowing I am far from mastery. I look at some of my earlier paintings and feel a combination of embarrassment and tenderness toward my less skilled former self. And I expect that soon enough, I’ll feel the same about my current work. 

I'm reminded of the New Yorker cartoon by Gahan Wilson that shows two gentlemen gazing at a child's awkward scrawl. One says, "Of course, it's a very early Rembrandt."

The other day I was listening to an all-Beatles channel on satellite radio that played some fuzzy recordings from their beginning years. I realized there was a good reason I had never heard those cover songs by the Beatles before—they simply weren’t very good! And yet, in those early years, the Fab Four were able to come up with some real gems, like “She Loves You.” Even if the song seems simple, the harmonies and catchy “yeah, yeah, yeah” chorus still convey a freshness and vitality more than half a century later.

“bright eyes” is 11x14, sumi ink on paper. It is available as a signed print  here . © Annette Makino 2011

“bright eyes” is 11x14, sumi ink on paper. It is available as a signed print here. © Annette Makino 2011

Although I could never aspire to the greatness of the Beatles, I can also see a few flowers among the weeds in my early work. The “bright eyes” piece to the right, of my dog Misha, was one of my first sumi ink paintings back in 2011. Since I was just starting my art business, the enthusiastic response from the public was very encouraging.

Seven years later, I can paint dogs much more realistically, as in the watercolor above of my friend’s dog Sukie. And I know my art will continue to evolve and improve over time. 

I have to remind myself that an artist’s development is never “finished,” so there’s no point in waiting until my work is perfect to put it out in the world. All I can do is play and have fun with the process. And share it with my wonderfully supportive customers. So bring on Open Studios! Yeah, yeah, yeah!

bright eyes, wagging tail
the universe, in dog form
invites us to play

Makino Studios News

Open Studios: I will join artists Tina Gleave, Jennifer Rand, Amy Fowler and Araya Shon at the Samoa Women’s Club in Samoa, CA for North Coast Open Studios this weekend. We’ll be serving wine and appetizers tomorrow (Friday, June 1) at Art Night from 6 to 9 p.m. The main event is Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. There will be art raffles, demos of our techniques, closeout sales and refreshments. More details and directions in the Facebook event.

Cards for Dads and Grads: Check out the Cards section to find cards for graduation, Father’s Day (June 17), weddings and birthdays.

On Vacation: I will be away on a painting vacation on the Klamath River all of next week and visiting family the week after, so I will not be able to ship out any orders until Friday, June 15.

ukiaHaiku Festival: I’m happy to share that the following haiku won first place in the Dori Anderson Award for haiku about Ukiah at the annual ukiaHaiku Festival last month:

sun-baked orchard
collecting cherries
in my hat

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.