Well, I wanted to write a heartfelt and inspiring new year’s message, one that summed up this crazy year and offered sparks of hope for 2019…
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.
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!
Popping up in the middle of National Poetry Month, today is International Haiku Poetry Day. To mark the occasion, here is a smorgasbord of haiku I’ve published this past year. Enjoy!
I remind my mother
to buckle up
tendrils of fog
I follow a thread
back into the dream
in her text message
every night between the sheets
a little more sand
the windshield crack
the sky the color
And for a selection of some of the finest haiku of 2016, see the short list for The Haiku Foundation’s prestigious Touchstone Award.
warmly, Annette Makino
“gentle rain” - The Heron’s Nest, Issue 19:1, March 2017
“tendrils of fog” - Frogpond, Issue 40:1, Winter 2017
“understory” - Exhaling, Seabeck Haiku Getaway 2015 Anthology
“beach vacation” - Modern Haiku, Issue 47:2, Summer 2016
“sunlit pond” - A Hundred Gourds, Issue 5:3, June 2016
“thin ice” - A Hundred Gourds, Issue 5:3, June 2016
“Indian summer” - Frogpond, Issue 39:3, Autumn 2016
Makino Studios News
Free shipping for Poetry Month: Since April is National Poetry Month, I am offering free shipping for US orders of $15 or more through the Makino Studios Etsy store. Use code SPRING2017 through April 30.
ukiaHaiku Festival: I will be at the ukiaHaiku Festival in Ukiah, California on Sunday, April 30 at 2 p.m. at the Civic Center in my old hometown of Ukiah, California. Stay tuned for some happy news!
BeeFest 2017: This annual celebration of bees takes place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, May 13 at the Adorni Center in Eureka, California. A sampling of my cards and prints will be available.
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 in Samoa 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.
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.
this deep blue state
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.
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.
Besides a grand family adventure, my trip to Japan earlier this summer (see Journey to Japan) was also an exploration of Japanese art and haiku—and a chance to stock up on hard-to-find art supplies.
A major highlight of the trip was a visit to a famous art supply store in Kyoto, founded by a painter in 1863 and still run by his descendants. At the one-room Saiun-do (“Painted Clouds”), I found the fine brushes, made of weasel hair and bamboo, for which I had spent years searching. I also scored a fragrant new sumi ink stick and several ceramic pots of special "gansai" watercolors that are found only in Japan.
Later, I painted the Japanese maple leaves shown here with my new brushes, delighting in their smoothness on the page. How liberating to find brushes that work with me, not against me!
Through sheer serendipity, I was able to see woodblock art prints by one of my favorite artists, Hiroshige, at four different museums around the country. Ukiyo-e (literally, “pictures of the floating world”) were hugely popular in the Edo period, when the merchant class enjoyed decorating their walls with prints of beautiful geisha, kabuki actors and landscapes. "The Great Wave off Kanagawa" by Hokusai is probably the best-known example of ukiyo-e in the West.
It is estimated that in the 1850s, four to five million ukiyo-e were printed every year! The visual style, in which thin black outlines were filled in with blocks of color, was the forerunner of manga (Japanese-style comics). It also deeply influenced the beautiful anime (Japanese animated films) by director Hayao Miyazake, among others.
But it was only on returning home this summer that I realized how much my own art owes to ukiyo-e. Though painted on paper rather than carved into wood, my paintings typically consist of thin outlines of black sumi ink that bound areas of color. And my art, like Hiroshige’s in his day, is mainly intended to be printed and enjoyed by many, rather than hung in fine art museums.
I came to Japan to study the old masters—and found a part of myself.
rice paper moon
pine trees brush
the inky sky
Makino Studios News
North Country Fair: Humboldters, come celebrate the fall equinox at the 43rd annual North Country Fair on the Arcata Plaza this Saturday and Sunday! The fair runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. both days. There will be 170 art and craft vendors, three music and entertainment stages, local food booths, activities for kids, and a daily parade at 1 p.m. Come visit my Makino Studios booth on G Street near Moore’s Sleepworld!
New2017 calendars: For the fourth year in a row, I have created a mini-calendar of my art and haiku. Featuring animals, landscapes, and other scenes from nature, the 2017 calendars have just come off the press and will debut at the fair. They can also be ordered through the Makino Studios shop on Etsy.
New keychains: I have designed two different wooden keychains featuring my art and haiku, one of a playful dog and one of a Humboldt redwood. These laser-engraved keychains will be offered at the fair this weekend and are also available on Etsy.
New card designs: Heirloom tomatoes, redwood forests, and river landscapes are the subjects of some of my latest greeting cards, due off the press this week. Check them out at the fair or the Makino Studios Etsy shop.
Seabeck Haiku Getaway: This fun and inspiring haiku retreat takes place Oct. 27-30 in Seabeck, Washington next month. I will be presenting on my trip to Japan with photos and haiku. I look forward to playing and learning with other haiku poets in a beautiful natural setting!
At the Seabeck Haiku Getaway in Washington last fall, we started with a fun icebreaker: write down five items from your bucket list, then walk around the room and share with other participants. (For more about Seabeck, see The path unfolds.)
After the exercise, my daughter Maya and I compared lists. I definitely don’t share her dream of working a stint as a bartender! But it turns out that we both had the exact same number one wish: to travel to Japan as a family.
Meanwhile, Makino Studios turned five years old in March. Thinking about how to mark this milestone, I remembered the bucket list exercise. It occurred to me that the best way to celebrate would be to use some of my earnings to take our family to Japan. How fitting that a business that draws deeply from the traditions of Japanese art and haiku would enable us to travel there.
So we are off early next month for three weeks of exploration and adventure! This will be the first trip to Japan for our teens; it is the fourth trip for me and the second for my husband Paul. My sister Yoshi will join us for the first and last few days of the trip.
Our itinerary includes visiting Japanese relatives in Tokyo and touring the venerable 320-year old Makino sake factory in Takasaki. We’ll also see the Makino temple and a cemetery there containing family tombs from ten generations.
I’m also excited to hike along the ancient Nakasendo trail in the Japanese alps, where stone tablets commemorate visits by revered haiku poets Basho and Shiki. We will soak in hot springs and explore Japanese temples, gardens, castles, and museums.
To experience Japanese life more deeply, we will mainly stay in ryokan (traditional Japanese inns) and a variety of homes booked through Airbnb. As lovers of Japanese cuisine, we are especially excited about the food! I imagine I’ll find much artistic inspiration throughout.
While the earnings from my art business are modest, the psychic rewards are incalculable. (I just don’t think I’d feel the same about bartending.) To all my store buyers, customers and supporters over the past five years, I bow in thanks.
all the countries
on my bucket list
warmly, Annette Makino
Makino Studios News
ukiaHaiku Awards: At the ukiaHaiku Festival on April 24, this poem of mine won second place in the Jane Reichhold International Prize, out of 412 entries from six continents:
with divorce rates
And this one took third in the Dori Anderson Prize for haiku about Ukiah:
a row of raindrops
hanging on the clothesline—
Newest stores: The list of Makino Studios card retailers now includes Down to Earth in Eugene, Oregon; Three Sisters in Ukiah; and Swish Healdsburg in Healdsburg, California. If there is no store in your area, you can order online through my Etsy shop.
Order by June 1: As I’ll be traveling in Japan, I will not be able to fill online or store orders between June 2 and June 28.
Publication credit: “salt breeze” was published in Exhaling, the Seabeck 2015 anthology; it tied for second place in the Seabeck kukai (a haiku contest determined by participating poets).