river

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.

The other end of the paintbrush

“summer solstice” is 11×14, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper and digitally edited. An earlier version of the haiku first appeared in Modern Haiku. A  birthday card version  is available. © Annette Makino 2016

“summer solstice” is 11×14, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper and digitally edited. An earlier version of the haiku first appeared in Modern Haiku. A birthday card version is available. © Annette Makino 2016

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.

Annette Makino demonstrates her tools and techniques at the Samoa Women’s Club in Samoa, CA as part of North Coast Open Studios in June 2017.

Annette Makino demonstrates her tools and techniques at the Samoa Women’s Club in Samoa, CA as part of North Coast Open Studios in June 2017.

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!

Portrait of the artist as an entrepreneur

“Kaya in the Klamath” is 11×14, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on watercolor paper. It is available as a signed 11×14 digital print or a card reading “I’m here for you.” © 2015 Annette Makino

“Kaya in the Klamath” is 11×14, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on watercolor paper. It is available as a signed 11×14 digital print or a card reading “I’m here for you.” © 2015 Annette Makino

Once upon a time, in Mrs. Miller’s 12th grade English Honors class, we each had to make a persuasive speech on a topic of our choice. Like most of the talks, mine was terribly earnest, about Nestlé pushing infant formula on breastfeeding mothers in poor countries. But when it was her turn, my friend Betsy walked to the front of the classroom smacking her chewing gum, and gave a hilarious speech in favor of gum, vigorously chewing all the while.

A few decades later, she’s still fun, creative and original. These days, she and her husband run an art brand management and consulting company in San Francisco called February 13 Creative. On her blog, Betsy recently launched a series of art brand stories with various artists. I was honored to be the first in the series. I hope you enjoy this excerpt!

art brand stories: Annette Makino 

(by Betsy Cordes of February 13 Creative, reprinted with permission)

My very first interview is especially meaningful for me because it’s with someone I’ve known for a very long time—since our days together at Ukiah High School in Northern California—long before either one of us had any idea that our paths would re-intersect one day thanks to art careers that each of us took up later in life.

I’m happy to introduce you to my friend, Annette Makino, an artist and writer who combines both talents in her beautiful watercolor and sumi ink paintings. Annette is inspired by the Japanese tradition of haiga, artwork combined with haiku so the image and words deepen each other. Annette has always had a quiet, sly, Zen sense of humor and I especially love seeing that side of her pop into her artwork.

“2016 in Art and Haiku” is a mini-calendar measuring 5.5 x 8 when closed. Most of the Japanese-inspired art in this calendar includes my original haiku.

“2016 in Art and Haiku” is a mini-calendar measuring 5.5 x 8 when closed. Most of the Japanese-inspired art in this calendar includes my original haiku.

One thing I most admire about Annette’s story is her process of slowly switching from a career in international relations to one based on her artwork. In  2010, she began deliberately building her art brand while keeping one foot in her international relations work (as a consultant) and developing some passive income streams. Making a transition to self-employment—especially as an artist—takes a lot of discipline. It’s not uncommon to hear from folks who just want to dive straight in: devil take the hindmost, an artist’s life for me! Annette is doing it in small, thoughtful steps—an approach that I suspect will ensure a long life for her art-based business.

So, without further ado, our first Art Brand Story… Annette Makino!

Betsy: You come from a very creative and intellectually engaged family. I’ve always admired that in your home (both your childhood home and the home you’ve made with your husband and kids): that artmaking is celebrated and encouraged as much as academic pursuits. But you didn’t initially pursue college studies or a career in art, did you? How and when did your artmaking begin to play a bigger role in your adult life?

Annette: Art was always strongly encouraged in my family. Whenever my two sisters and I asked our mother what she wanted for her birthday, she suggested a drawing, painting or poem. For years up through high school, we kids created a calendar of our art that we photocopied and gave to relatives and close family friends. But other than a year of art classes in my early twenties, I didn’t do art seriously until I left the nonprofit executive world . . .

Read the rest of the story

Other art brand stories

Makino Studios News

Free Shipping: Through November 30, 2015, I’m offering free shipping on orders of $20 or more in my Etsy shop. Use coupon code FREESHIP2015.

Arts Arcata this Friday: Humboldt Pet Supply, which carries my dog and cat-themed art, including the piece above, is hosting a reception this coming Friday, Nov. 13, 6-9 p.m. during Arts Arcata. HPS is located at 145 South G Street in Arcata, CA.

Holiday cards: I’ve painted three new holiday card designs. They feature a cat stalking a mouse ornament, a naughty dog and a chili pepper wreath. They are available from my Etsy shop and in stores.

2016 calendar: wall calendar of art and haiku, featuring twelve of my paintings of landscapes, animals and flowers, is on sale in stores and online. From ocean waves to oak-covered hills, this mini-calendar provides a monthly dose of Zen wisdom.

Made in Humboldt: More than 50 card designs plus prints and calendars will be offered at this holiday sale at the Garden Shop of Pierson Building Center in Eureka, CA Nov. 17-Dec. 24.

Holiday Craft Market: Makino Studios will have a booth at this fair in the Arcata Community Center in Arcata, CA on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 12-13.

Stories you told me

“through sun and cloud” is 5×7, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on textured paper. It is also available as a print or card.

“through sun and cloud” is 5×7, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on textured paper. It is also available as a print or card.

In the nonprofit world where I used to work, funders were always asking for “success stories,” examples of how their support was making a direct impact. While those kinds of stories could be hard to come by, in my current life as an artist and writer, I hear them all the time.

One reason I like to do fairs is to market-test new designs before I offer them widely to stores. Another reason is for the chance to talk directly with my customers. So let's say for a moment that you are a billionaire philanthropist and patron of the arts. These recent stories collected from my customers will serve as my year-end report to you.

• People have given the above painting of a jacaranda tree in bloom as a sympathy card, as an anniversary card, and to friends going through chemotherapy. A few weeks ago, a woman told me she had had a fight with her sister. She first called to apologize, and then sent her this card:

through sun and cloud
I hold you
in my heart

• At a holiday fair last month, a burly guy in a skydiving sweatshirt bought seven of my cards, all for his wife, who loves my art. He explained that whenever he goes out of town, he leaves her one card for every night he’ll be gone.

• Every year, two women friends who live far apart buy the same calendar so they can share the same image each month. For 2014, they chose my “Poetry & Honey” calendar.

• A 93-year-old woman who is housebound ordered ten of my calendars as thank you gifts for all the people who bring her meals and otherwise help her.

• A beekeeper in Hawaii received one of my handmade bee books for Christmas, and loved it so much she is ordering honeybee-themed prints and books for her honey store on the Big Island.

• A father sent his daughter off to college on the East Coast with this framed seashell print for her dorm room, to remind her to stay true to herself:

listen—
the song of your heart
is playing

“river flow” is 6×4, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on textured paper.

“river flow” is 6×4, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on textured paper.

• An artist sent my “river flow” card to a family member who was going through a difficult but necessary divorce, and it was just the right message:

river flow
returning me
to myself

While I pass tedious January days counting up inventory and wrestling with year-end accounting, it’s stories like these that sustain me. The running thread is that my work is helping people to find joy and meaning in their day-to-day lives, and, through sun and cloud, to deepen their bonds with the people they love.

To you, my customers and friends, thanks for your support and for sharing your stories. And please keep them coming! You may not be in a position to give out six-figure grants, but you are surely rich in stories, and in spirit.

Makino Studios News

New Art Featured: Eleven of my haiga (haiku art pieces) are appearing online for the first time in a web-based gallery on Haigaonline. (At the bottom left, click "online gallery," then click "Annette Makino.") I would love to know if you'd like to see any of these as cards, not necessarily with the same words.

New Store: The sparkling Holly Yashi Store in Arcata, CA now carries my cards, prints and handmade bee books. If you’re in town, you can also watch them making their beautiful jewelry.

Unfortunate Events Update: I appreciate all the sympathy and suggestions in response to my last post, A series of unfortunate events. I’m glad to report that the bizarre streak of misfortunes ended just before I wrote that account!