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.

Love in action

"will you be mine?"  is available as a card. 

"will you be mine?" is available as a card. 

Happy Valentine’s Day! Today I am enjoying a beautiful bouquet from my darling husband and looking forward to dinner tonight at Folie Douce in Arcata, one of our favorite restaurants. 

I recognize that, as delightful as this holiday can be for those with sweethearts, the emphasis on romantic love can make it feel lonely or pointless for those who don’t. Fortunately, there are many ways to celebrate love in all its incarnations.

Every year, my photographer friend Lorraine Miller-Wolf organizes a Valentine-making party. Dozens of friends come to her house to make cards using colored paper, rubber stamps, stickers, lace doilies, markers and old catalogs. Mugs of tea mingle with scissors and glue sticks on the newspaper-covered tables.

Sometimes homely, sometimes elaborate, but always created with love, these cards are then given to people who could use some extra caring. They are distributed via local assisted living homes, senior lunch sites, a kidney dialysis center, and a meal delivery service for seniors. Together with similar parties hosted by friends, this year Lorraine’s efforts resulted in more than one thousand heartfelt Valentine’s Day cards shared with people in our community, a record.

That’s a whole lot of love. Whether your Valentine’s Day involves a candlelit dinner with your sweetie, a long walk with a dear friend, or a snuggle with your pooch, have a good one!

darkened bedroom
surprised by a French kiss
from our French poodle

Inspired by Lorraine's party, yesterday I made a Valentine's Day card for my husband Paul.

Inspired by Lorraine's party, yesterday I made a Valentine's Day card for my husband Paul.

Makino Studios News

Custom Paintings: I love doing commissions! You can order a custom piece to honor a life passage like a birthday, wedding, or birth. I will talk with you to understand what is unique about this person in your life, and then create an original painting for the situation, with or without a haiku, as you prefer. Sizes and prices are variable.

Makino Studios Gallery: Have you checked out the gallery of art on my new website? While some of these paintings have sold, many can be ordered as signed prints. 

Connecting: I appreciate whenever someone takes the time to respond to these posts, and I read and answer every comment. 

Wet Paint

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!

hovering brush
nothing and everything
in a pool of ink

64 shades of black : Our first major assignment was to cut a black and white photo into 64 tiny numbered rectangles, then reproduce it using a wide variety of blacks that we mixed. 

64 shades of black: Our first major assignment was to cut a black and white photo into 64 tiny numbered rectangles, then reproduce it using a wide variety of blacks that we mixed. 

Fishermen at dawn:  We painted several 25-minute pieces in class, learning to make quick decisions about where and how to layer color.

Fishermen at dawn: We painted several 25-minute pieces in class, learning to make quick decisions about where and how to layer color.

Swan Lake:  This was a study in layering color on an image with a black background, shown in progress.

Swan Lake: This was a study in layering color on an image with a black background, shown in progress.

And to think it only took 20 hours to transform a beautiful photo of a lily pond into a confusing jumble!

And to think it only took 20 hours to transform a beautiful photo of a lily pond into a confusing jumble!

Languid lass:  Our teacher had us paint the model in just two shades, light or dark, then add a few darker details. Surprising how realistic that can look.

Languid lass: Our teacher had us paint the model in just two shades, light or dark, then add a few darker details. Surprising how realistic that can look.

The finished piece retains a subtle hint of the warm blue underlayer.

The finished piece retains a subtle hint of the warm blue underlayer.

Playtime:  Our final assignment: a self-portrait. This was the first of several layers.

Playtime: Our final assignment: a self-portrait. This was the first of several layers.

Based on a photo by my son Gabriel, the finished painting depicts my dog Misha and me playing at the beach on New Year's Day.

Based on a photo by my son Gabriel, the finished painting depicts my dog Misha and me playing at the beach on New Year's Day.

Happy holidays from the back woods!

“may peace in our hearts” is 11×14. It is also available as a single card or a set of boxed notecards. © Annette Makino 2015

“may peace in our hearts” is 11×14. It is also available as a single card or a set of boxed notecards. © Annette Makino 2015

Well, holiday season is in full swing around here, so for better or for worse, I don’t have time to share any “deep thoughts” today! Here among the redwoods, the elves and I are busy packaging new cards and prints as soon as they come off the press and we are sending out orders daily.

But I am sneaking a moment between holiday fairs to share some glad tidings: with technical help from Henry Cordes of February 13 Creative and pro photography by Brandi Easter, I have just launched a new website! 

Built on the Squarespace platform, the Makino Studios site (finally) allows people to place orders directly instead of having to navigate over to Etsy, offering more flexibility. You are cordially invited to explore the gallery, shop, blog, and more. Please check it out and let me know what you think!

To kick off the new site, I am offering 15% off my 2018 calendar of haiku and art with promo code 2018CALENDAR, usable only on www.makinostudios.com. I sold 50 of these lovely little calendars just at last weekend’s Humboldt Artisans fair, with many people commenting how perfect they are for holiday giving. 

And now the catch: the last day to order before the holidays is this coming Friday, December 15, because Makino Studios will be on vacation after that until Dec. 27.

Last but not least, I want to send you warmest greetings for the holidays. Here’s hoping you can spend the time connecting with family and friends, enjoying delicious food in magical surroundings, and celebrating the season of light however your heart desires.

silent night
all the stars
we could wish for

Makino Studios News

Humboldt holiday fairs: Makino Studios will be at the City of Arcata’s Holiday Craft Market this weekend, December 9-10 in the Arcata Community Center. In addition, my calendars, small prints and boxed notecards are for sale at the “Made in Humboldt” event at Pierson Garden Shop now through December 24.

These "starry night" holiday notecards, with the "silent night" haiku above, come in sets of eight cards and eight kraft envelopes.

These "starry night" holiday notecards, with the "silent night" haiku above, come in sets of eight cards and eight kraft envelopes.

Boxed notecards: Due to customer requests, I have just added a new holiday notecard design ("may peace in our hearts spread peace in the world"). I now offer six kinds of boxed notecards: three holiday designs, a thank you card, a landscape series and a floral series.

Art prints: A wildflower meadow and a beach landscape are among the latest print designs available. These are 11×14, individually signed and stamped in red with my name seal, and ready to give as a gift or frame for yourself.

An earlier version of the haiku “silent night,” was awarded honorable mention for the Jane Reichhold International Prize at the 2017 ukiaHaiku Festival.

After the fires, a time to give thanks

“dusk settling” is 11×14. There is a card version reading  “holding you in my thoughts.”  © Annette Makino 2017

“dusk settling” is 11×14. There is a card version reading “holding you in my thoughts.” © Annette Makino 2017

When I was 15, our family moved to the small town of Redwood Valley, north of Ukiah. My mother and sister Yoshi still live in the A-frame house we built there, on a few acres covered with oak and manzanita chaparral, above a valley checkered with vineyards.

On October 9, with the devastating wine country fires igniting across several counties, this rural community was badly hit: nine people were killed, including a teenage brother and sister. More than 300 homes were lost.

Driving through the fire zone for the first time last Sunday, I was struck by the randomness of the destruction. Just across a narrow lane where all the houses were intact, several houses lay burned to their foundations. Survival depended in part on which direction an ember blew. On whether someone happened to be awake after midnight when the fires started. Or whether a neighbor was able to take the time to pound on their door.

The family home lies on the other side of town, a couple miles away from the worst of the fires. My mom and sister could see flames and smoke across the valley, and their car was packed and ready if they needed to evacuate. It was a tense few days for all of us, but they and their home were spared.

news of wildfire
the backyard maple
blazing red

So this Thanksgiving, I am especially grateful for the blessings of home and family. And to all the firefighters, cleanup crews and other people working to restore some semblance of normal life for those affected by the disaster. And I’m even thankful for the pouring rain, knowing it is helping the burnt areas to regrow.

dusk settling
the window propped open
to the scent of rain

Here’s wishing all the best to you and yours this Thanksgiving.

Makino Studios News

The 2018 calendar of art and haiku is now available in stores and  online .

The 2018 calendar of art and haiku is now available in stores and online.

Holiday fairs: Makino Studios will be at two fairs in December: the Humboldt Artisans Crafts & Music Festival, December 1-3 at Redwood Acres in Eureka, and the City of Arcata’s Holiday Craft Market, December 9-10 in the Arcata Community Center. In addition, some of my work is for sale at the “Made in Humboldt” event at Pierson Garden Shop now through December 24.

Boxed notecards: In response to customer requests, I am now offering five kinds of boxed notecards in my Etsy shop: two holiday designs, a thank you card, a landscape series and a floral series.

Art prints: A trail through giant redwoods and a country road are among the new print designs available for sale in the MakinoStudios Etsy shop. These are 11×14, individually signed and stamped in red with my name seal, and ready to give as a gift or frame for yourself.

2018 calendars: My mini-calendar of art and haiku is available online and in local stores. These make great holiday gifts!

December 15 is your last chance to order: I will be on vacation after that and Makino Studios will be closed for business until Dec. 27.

Sociable: I am on Instagram as annettemakino. You can also get news, fresh art and haiku on my Makino Studios Facebook page and my Twitter feed.

An earlier version of the haiku “dusk settling” was published in Inhaling: 2016 Seabeck Haiku Getaway Anthology, Haiku Northwest, 2017.

For better or for worse

“for better or for worse” is 11×14, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolor on paper. It is also available as a card reading, “you’re just my cup of tea.” © Annette Makino 2017

“for better or for worse” is 11×14, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolor on paper. It is also available as a card reading, “you’re just my cup of tea.” © Annette Makino 2017

Once upon a time, at a Halloween party in Humboldt County, a tall and lean sea captain crossed paths with a slinky black cat. He asked if they had met before. They hadn’t, but she noticed the warmth and humor in his eyes, so she teased him about the tiny slice of pie on his plate (“Are you on a diet or something?”).

That was 26 years ago this month. Since then, most everything that is good in my life has flowed from that fateful meeting: the delightful kids we’ve raised, the beautiful home we’ve built, the delicious freedom of this creative life.

Paul has such an exceptional mind that he is studying second-year Chinese, just for fun. In retirement, he has also decided to learn to play the violin. And he has such a kind heart that, after a rain, he will rescue worms stranded on the sidewalk.

Of course, sometimes he mystifies or exasperates me, and I do the same to him—this is our sacred duty as partners. When he’s out of town, the house is definitely more orderly. Logistically, things run quietly and efficiently. But everything feels flatter, less fun, less meaningful. That essential spark is missing.

Annette and Paul in Redwood National Park, California, Halloween 2017.

Annette and Paul in Redwood National Park, California, Halloween 2017.

Former Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once said of his wife Fanny, “she made my life poetry.” Happy anniversary to the man who keeps me warm at night, who makes me laugh, and who makes my life poetry.

for better or for worse
our lights and darks
tumbling together

Makino Studios News

Holiday fairs: Makino Studios will be at two fairs in December: the Humboldt Artisans Crafts & Music Festival, December 1-3 at Redwood Acres in Eureka, and the City of Arcata’s Holiday Craft Market, December 9-10 in the Arcata Community Center. In addition, some of my work is for sale at the “Made in Humboldt” event at Pierson Garden Shop now through December 24.

NEW! Boxed notecards: In response to customer requests, I am now offering five kinds of boxed notecards in my Etsy shop: two holiday designs, a thank you card, a landscape series and a floral series.

Art prints: A trail through giant redwoods and a country road are among the new print designs available for sale in the MakinoStudios Etsy shop. These are 11×14, individually signed and stamped in red with my name seal, and ready to give as a gift or frame for yourself.

2018 calendars: My mini-calendar of art and haiku is available online and in local stores. These make great holiday gifts!

Sociable: Follow me on Instagram as annettemakino. You can also get news, fresh art and haiku on my Makino Studios Facebook page and my Twitter feed.

(“for better or for worse” haiku first published in The Heron’s Nest XVI:1, March 2014;  republished in big data: The Red Moon Anthology of English-Language 2014, Ed. Jim Kacian, Red Moon Press, 2015; and in The Wonder Code, by Scott Mason, 2017.)

In times of trouble

“scent of wood smoke” is 11×14, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolor on paper. It is also available as  a card reading, “the world is so much richer with you in it” . © Annette Makino 2017

“scent of wood smoke” is 11×14, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolor on paper. It is also available as a card reading, “the world is so much richer with you in it”. © Annette Makino 2017

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.

aftermath
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.

Indian summer is 5×7, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper. © Annette Makino 2015

Indian summer is 5×7, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper. © Annette Makino 2015

scent of wood smoke
the way our shadows
lean together

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.

Indian summer
the sky the color
of forever

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

Sociable: I am now on Instagram as annettemakino. You can also get news, fresh art and haiku on my Makino Studios Facebook page and my Twitter feed.