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.
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
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.
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
Apparently there is some sort of election coming up. Lately I’ve been grinding my teeth at night and, although this could be one of Hillary Clinton’s secret conspiracies, I prefer to blame it on Donald Trump.
the dog registers
Last weekend I attended the wonderful Seabeck Haiku Getaway in Washington State. Sprinkled among the presentations and activities, there were several “Write Now” sessions in which we had five minutes to draft haiku on a particular topic. Here are a couple from a session on the elections:
leaves land on both sides
of the fence
kissing the baby still undecided
This is truly one of the most bizarre, unpredictable and ugly U.S. elections ever. Each day has brought new revelations and accusations. It will be very hard to heal the nation after this divisive process.
geese practice leaving
But when I look out my window at the forest outside, I am reminded of another time frame, where a four-year election cycle is no more than a breath.
redwood time . . .
the steady journey
from earth to sky
No matter the outcome on Tuesday, I am rooting for common sense, compassion and a sense of perspective.
warmly, Annette Makino
(“campaign sign” was first published in Haiku News, Vol. 1, No. 44, November 2012)
Makino Studios News
Senryu award: I’m honored that this poem, which I wrote in Japan, recently won third place in the annual Gerald Brady Awards for Senryu held by the Haiku Society of America (HSA). (View all the winners plus judges' comments):
their selfie sticks
Haiku award: And this haiku won second honorable mention in the HSA’s prestigious Harold G. Henderson Awards for Haiku (View all the winners plus judges' comments):
our easy silence
Free shipping through November: Use shipping code FREESHIP2016 for free shipping through November 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: November 15-Dec. 24. Ongoing fair of arts, crafts and specialty foods handmade in Humboldt County. Pierson Garden Shop, 4100 Broadway Street, Eureka.
Well, I’ve been back from Japan for almost a month now, and I still can't begin to describe this heart-expanding trip. Much as I had planned and anticipated the journey (see my last post, Eastward ho!), it was even better than I could have imagined.
Over three weeks in June, my family and I explored serene Zen gardens and bustling city streets. We spent one day hiking the ancient Nakasendo trail between post towns, and another day hiking through ten thousand vermillion torii gates at a shrine in Kyoto.
We climbed to the top of a 400-year old castle and we soaked in mountain hot springs. We shopped in glitzy malls, a temple flea market, and a tiny paintbrush store founded in 1863. At an alley bar with just nine seats, we heard a Japanese duo play American jazz. Inside the moat of a wooden castle, we happened on a free concert by a popular boy band. We hiked through bamboo forests and flew past rice paddies on bullet trains.
We were mystified by the high-tech toilets with explanatory signs only in Japanese—a member of our party, who wishes to remain anonymous, learned the hard way that the big red button is not for flushing, but to call an attendant in case of emergency! One day at a busy Kyoto subway station, we encountered about a hundred massive sumo wrestlers, all wearing colorful summer kimonos and top knots.
We were amused by the odd English translations, like the restaurant offering “pig hormone soaked in a pot.” At the Meiji shrine in Tokyo, among the hand-lettered prayers for good health and high exam scores, we found one we could relate to: “I pray that America doesn’t elect Donald Trump.”
Our 19-year old daughter Maya, whose main exposure to Japan had been the animated films of Hayao Miyazaki, kept exclaiming, “This is so frickin’ dope! It’s like anime, only real life!”
Our 14-year old son Gabriel ate everything in sight, from breakfasts of grilled fish and pickled vegetables to chunks of battered octopus passed among bar patrons. But he passed on the sardine tea offered at one ramen joint, even though the sign promised, “Tastes like a junior high student.”
We also visited with my relatives, enjoying their warm hospitality and hearing about the Makino family's samurai ancestry.
A highlight was spending a day at Makino Brewery in the mountains beyond Takasaki, a business run by my second cousin which has been making award-winning sake for 320 years. Near the brewery, by a bamboo grove, is the Makino temple and a family cemetery where ten generations of Makinos are buried.
The beauty of Japan flooded my mind and heart. I’m sure I will draw inspiration from this trip for years to come. It was a great blessing to celebrate Makino Studios’ fifth anniversary with this “bucket list” family adventure. Thanks to all who made this trip possible by supporting my artistic journey along the way!
the time we are given . . .
sparks rise through darkness
to join the stars
Makino Studios News
More Japan photos: If you'd like to see more images of our trip to Japan (mostly shot on my iPhone 6S), I've temporarily made this Facebook album public.
Summer retreat: The week of July 30-August 7, I’ll be relaxing and painting at a cabin on the Klamath River. If you would like to place an order through the MakinoStudios Etsy shop, please do so before or after that week.
North Country Fair: Humboldters, mark your calendars for the 43nd annual North Country Fair on the Arcata Plaza September 17-18! I'll have paintings, prints, cards and new 2017 calendars at the Makino Studios booth on G Street near 9th.