Wishing you peaceful holidays

 “peace on earth” is 5×7, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolor on paper and digitally edited. It is available as a  holiday card  or small print. © 2014 Annette Makino

“peace on earth” is 5×7, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolor on paper and digitally edited. It is available as a holiday card or small print. © 2014 Annette Makino

Whew. After weeks of holiday madness for my little business, I have just one more in-person event this season, a holiday craft fair in Arcata this weekend.

With this chance to catch my breath, I just want to say a big thank you to all my customers, family and friends. This holiday season and all year, it is a tremendous gift to be able to spend this brief time on earth engaged in truly meaningful work.

the time we are given . . .
sparks rise through darkness
to join the stars

(tinywords 14.2)

Peaceful holidays to you and goodwill to all creatures.

warmly,

Annette Makino

Makino Studios News

Holiday Craft Market: I will have paintings, prints, cards and calendars for sale at this fair in the Arcata Community Center in Arcata, CA this weekend, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.

 “oak tree” is 11×14, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper. © 2014 Annette Makino

“oak tree” is 11×14, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper. © 2014 Annette Makino

New Oak Tree Print: I just posted a new print of an oak tree in my Etsy shop, where you can also find the latest holiday and everyday card designs and my wall calendar for 2015.

Made in Humboldt: My cards, prints and calendars are on offer at this holiday fair at the Garden Shop of Pierson Building Center in Eureka, CA  through Dec. 24.

Living Room Retrospective: I am one of nine artists featured in this exhibit at MikkiMoves in Eureka. The show runs through January.

Holiday at Mateel Gallery: A few of my paintings, plus cards and calendars, are available at this gallery in Garberville, CA through Dec. 27.

When you work for an idiot

It’s been said that one of the downsides of being self-employed is that you may find yourself working for an idiot. As the founder, CEO and sole staffer of Makino Studios, I get to consider this on a regular basis.

Ripples from a stone

 “forest clearing” is 11×14, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper. A holiday card version reads, “all is calm, all is bright.” © 2014 Annette Makino

“forest clearing” is 11×14, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper. A holiday card version reads, “all is calm, all is bright.” © 2014 Annette Makino

I’ve been thinking about cause and effect—and ripples. Even we fuzzy artsy types, who met our college science requirement by taking “Physics for Poets,” know that when you throw a stone in the water, the effect is not linear: the ripples radiate out in concentric circles, farther and farther from the source.

So it goes in the rest of life: while actions certainly have consequences, you can never clearly predict what they will be. A tossed pebble may create a wave that washes a bug up to safety on the far shore. And sometimes the effects radiate out much farther than you think.

This month my friend Amy Uyeki and I have a joint show featuring images combined with haiku and other words. We named the show “Ripples from a Stone” based on the idea that we all influence each other in surprising and unpredictable ways.

In fact, both of our work in this show was inspired by Amy’s grandmother, Shizue Harada. I never met her, yet this Japanese woman, who emigrated to the US in the 1920s in an arranged marriage and only began writing poetry late in life, indirectly launched me on my path as an artist and poet.

For more about this story and details on the show, see this article in the Eureka Times-Standard. And if you’re in Humboldt, we’d love to see you at our reception this Saturday, Nov. 22, 4-6 p.m. at the Adorni Center in Eureka, California.

By putting our work out in the world, we have tossed a stone into the river. Who knows what might come of that?

 Artists Amy Uyeki, left, and Annette Makino at their joint show, “Ripples from a Stone,” at the Adorni Center in Eureka, California in November 2014.

Artists Amy Uyeki, left, and Annette Makino at their joint show, “Ripples from a Stone,” at the Adorni Center in Eureka, California in November 2014.

Makino Studios News

Ripples from a Stone: This show by mixed media artist Amy Uyeki and me will run at the Adorni Center in Eureka, CA through Nov. 30, with a reception on Saturday, Nov. 22, 4-6 p.m.

Holiday Open Studios: Visit artists Joyce Jonté, Patricia Sennott and me 11-5 on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 6-7 at StewArt Studios in Arcata, CA.

Made in Humboldt: My cards, prints and calendars are on offer at this holiday sale at the Pierson's Garden Shop in Eureka, CA now through Dec. 24.

Holiday Craft Market: Makino Studios will have original paintings, prints, cards and calendars at this fair in the Arcata Community Center in Arcata, CA on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 13-14.

Holiday at Mateel Gallery: A few of my original paintings, plus cards and calendars, will be available at this group exhibit in Garberville, CA Nov. 22 through Dec. 27.

Living Room Retrospective: I am one of nine artists featured in this exhibit at MikkiMoves in Eureka, CA, opening Saturday, Dec. 6. The show runs through January.

New Cards and 2015 Calendar: Several new holiday and everyday card designs are now available online in my Etsy shop, along with my wall calendar for 2015.

I read the news today, oh boy

 “rustling leaves” is 5×7, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolor on paper. A greeting card version reads, “I’m so glad you were born.”

“rustling leaves” is 5×7, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolor on paper. A greeting card version reads, “I’m so glad you were born.”

Is it just my imagination, or is the news worse than usual? In the Middle East, after killing two American journalists, ISIS has just beheaded a British aid worker, and we are sliding deeper into a military campaign that no one really wants. In Africa, Ebola is rampaging virtually unchecked while fear spreads even faster. All around the world, climate change is wreaking havoc, yet our political leaders seem unable to take meaningful action on the most pressing issue of our time, not just for our species but for all others.

It’s enough to make me want to stay in bed with a heaping supply of chocolate.

But instead of succumbing to despair, yesterday I went to the farmers' market on the Arcata Plaza with my family. We heard a great steel drum band play “Happy” while kids and adults danced and hula hooped around the lawn. We bought fresh organic strawberries, peaches, corn, heirloom tomatoes and flowers grown in our area. And we caught up with friends in the warm sunshine.

Every Saturday morning from April through November, the combination of beautiful local produce, live music, and smiling people creates a kind of magic in the heart of our small town—an alchemy of joy.

 Heirloom tomatoes at the Arcata farmers’ market.

Heirloom tomatoes at the Arcata farmers’ market.

This is not the stuff of headlines, but markets like this and other examples of people getting together to create something good—PTA meetings and choirs and grange breakfasts—are the antidote to all those dark news stories. This is how we weave the strands of community, week after week, one zucchini at a time. This is how we celebrate our connections to each other and to the land that sustains us. This is how we “poke holes between worlds,” how we build trust and understanding of each other despite our differences.

When my husband and I first traveled to China in 1996, the government-run People’s Daily had a front-page headline one day with this breaking news: “Ethnic Groups Live in Harmony.”

Well, isn’t that nice?

I’m not suggesting that our newspapers should run feel-good propaganda. We need to know what’s really going on out there. But it is helpful to balance out the depressing daily news by focusing on all the things that are going right with our world. In small everyday ways, we can beat back despair and nurture the hope that is the catalyst for action.

Eating farmers' market strawberries with a bar of Green & Black’s dark chocolate helps too.

Makino Studios News

North Country Fair: Humboldters, come celebrate the fall equinox at the 41st annual North Country Fair on the Arcata Plaza 10-6 this weekend, September 20 and 21. I'll have paintings, prints, cards and calendars at my Makino Studios booth on G Street near 9th.

Two-Woman Show: I’m excited to team up with mixed media artist Amy Uyeki for an art exhibit at the Adorni Center in Eureka, CA during the month of November.

Poetry & Honey 2015 Calendar: My new wall calendar for 2015 is now available in 18 stores and online. This is a 16-month mini-calendar with the month grids for September-December 2014 and 12 pages of art for 2015.

New Stores North and South: Several new stores are now carrying my art cards and calendars. Check out the Japanese Friendship Garden in San Diego; Wild Rivers Market and Del Norte Office Supply, both in Crescent City, CA; and The Crown Jewel in Ashland, OR.

Happily ever after, and other fairy tales

 “…and they lived happily ever after” is 11×14, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolor on paper.

“…and they lived happily ever after” is 11×14, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolor on paper.

We all know the fairy tale about the frog prince. In the traditional version, once the princess lets the frog eat from her golden bowl and sleep in her bed for three nights, he turns into a handsome prince. (In the modern, instant gratification version, the transformation happens as soon as she kisses him.)

The Brothers Grimm account concludes:

“They then took leave of the king, and got into the coach with eight horses, and all set out, full of joy and merriment, for the prince's kingdom, which they reached safely; and there they lived happily a great many years.”

Nice story. But closer to real life, I think the couple might be just as happy foregoing the fancy coach, the grand castle and all the expectations of a perfect fairy tale life. Instead, they could spend their time together as two frogs in a pond, catching flies in the sunshine and enjoying each day as it comes.

For the past 21 years, I’ve been blessed to be married to a kind, brilliant, funny and warm-hearted man who is also my best friend. We don’t lead a fairy tale life—our Toyota and Subaru “coaches” both date from the last millennium, and we spent part of yesterday pulling weeds and scrubbing toilets. But we deeply appreciate each other and the sweet, everyday world of home and family we have built together.

 “three-leaf clover” is 5×7, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolor on paper. Published on DailyHaiga (Dec. 14, 2012).

“three-leaf clover” is 5×7, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolor on paper. Published on DailyHaiga (Dec. 14, 2012).

Last night, as we were watching the BBC series, “Sherlock,” with our 13-year old son Gabriel, I got a text from our 17-year old daughter Maya, who is off at a journalism workshop: “I’m having a moment of appreciation for you and dad because you’re both genuinely good and cool people. I’m proud to have you guys for parents.”

No prince or princess could ask for more.

for better or for worse
our lights and darks
tumbling together

The Heron’s Nest XVI:1 (March 2014)

 •

Makino Studios News

Savor the Day: There is a reception for my solo show this Saturday, August 2, 6-9 p.m. during Arts Alive at Humboldt Herbals in Eureka, CA. Seabury Gould and Frank Anderson will play old-style acoustic blues. There will be new cards, prints, and a 2015 16-month calendar for sale, plus free refreshments. The show runs through August.

New cards: I’ve listed nine new card designs in my Makino Studios Etsy shop, plus the new 2015 calendar.

North Country Fair: Humboldt folks, come celebrate the fall equinox at the 41st annual North Country Fair on the Arcata Plaza September 20 and 21. I'll have a Makino Studios booth on G Street near 9th.

Feedback: I love to hear from my readers and I respond to every email or blog comment. Thanks for all the insights and encouragement after my last blog post, “Yeah, but is it art?” I look forward to exploring your reading suggestions on the nature of art and being an artist.

Yeah, but is it art?

 “love you till the cows come home” is 11×14, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolor on paper. It is one of several new pieces showing at Humboldt Herbals in July and August, and is also available as a card or print.

“love you till the cows come home” is 11×14, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolor on paper. It is one of several new pieces showing at Humboldt Herbals in July and August, and is also available as a card or print.

The head of a local gallery once turned me down for a show, saying my work was too "popular" and not a good fit for his gallery. "Come back if you do something different," he said, "maybe something more from your soul." 

Ouch.

A nationally recognized artist put it in more positive terms: "Your work is very accessible."

As I've been painting a new series and preparing for a solo show in July and August, titled "Savor the Day," I've been pondering the question, "what is art?" And I've been feeling some insecurity about my work. Is it really art if it works as a greeting card? Is it art if it's not that technically skilled? Is it art if someone buys it for their mother in Oklahoma?

Of course, the question of what is art has been argued for a long time. The Impressionists once appalled the Paris art world with their loose, naturalistic approach.

About thirty years ago, my Swiss grandmother, who was born in 1899, told me she'd gotten my mother an art calendar for Christmas: "One of those modern painters . . . Monet."

She and my Swiss aunts, discussing a Picasso exhibit that was then visiting Basel, agreed that his work was "verrückt, verrückt!" (crazy).

In his seventh grade art class, my son recently learned about the work of Andy Warhol. When I asked what he thought of it, he replied, "Soup. A lot of soup. That was the dominant impression." It took a long time for the art establishment to accept those Campbell's soup cans as art, and clearly some younger critics are not yet convinced

Every class in Japanese or Chinese brush painting starts with learning to paint bamboo. The particular brush strokes for the trunk, the leaves, and the twigs have been handed down for centuries.

 “savor the day” is 5×7, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolor on paper. It is available as a card or print.

“savor the day” is 5×7, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolor on paper. It is available as a card or print.

It's said that once you master the art of painting bamboo, you know the strokes to paint just about anything. The catch is that it takes a lifetime of painting bamboo to get there, or at least a decade.

And bamboo is just one of the Four Gentlemen that every aspiring brush painter is supposed to learn properly before painting anything else, along with the orchid, chrysanthemum and plum blossom. (As my daughter observed, "Four Gentlemen? Those don't sound very manly to me.")

Though my art draws on the tradition of Japanese ink painting, I've come to realize that I'm not terribly interested in mastering these ancient tools and techniques. Instead, I have learned just enough to adapt them to my own purposes.

I enjoy grinding my sumi ink stick in an ink stone and painting with bamboo brushes, but in a simple style that doesn't take years to master. And while I started out painting on rice paper, lately I prefer using watercolor paper and other sturdy paper, so I can saturate my paintings with color.

As for subject matter, I have yet to find anything to say about bamboo. Instead, my new show features flying chickens, lovestruck cows, and smiling frogs.

Is it true art? Who is to say? And does it matter? But I do know that my work, now sold in 30 stores in four states, is given to friends and lovers, shared with support groups and classes, taped to bathroom mirrors, and stuck on refrigerators.

Helping people feel more connected to each other and to the world around them: that is my soul's work. My mother put it succinctly last week, as I was sharing my uncertainties: "Your art makes a lot of people happy."

I like to think that if she were still alive, even my art critic grandmother would agree.

Makino Studios News

Savor the Day: I have a solo show opening Saturday, July 5, 6-9 p.m. at Humboldt Herbals in Eureka, CA. There will be live music and free refreshments, and I'll have new cards and prints for sale as well as my brand-new 2015 16-month calendar. The show runs through August.

Healthy Customers:LifeSource Natural Foods in Salem, Oregon is now carrying my cards. It seems my customers are a healthy bunch, as this is the sixth natural food store to carry my cards. Thanks to everyone who supports my work, wherever you find it!

Traveling: I'm heading to New York and then to a cabin on the Klamath River in Northern California, so my Makino Studios Etsy shop will be closed July 5-26. I'm sorry for any inconvenience.

North Country Fair: Humboldt folks, come celebrate the fall equinox at the 41st annual North Country Fair on the Arcata Plaza September 20 and 21. I'll have a Makino Studios booth on G Street near 9th.

BabyUpdate: Thanks to everyone who responded to my last post, Adoption Journey! My nephew Kai, now five months old, is doing well at home in Tucson with my sister Yuri, and he continues to enchant all who meet him.

Adoption journey

 “waving fronds” by Annette Makino is 5×7, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on textured paper.

“waving fronds” by Annette Makino is 5×7, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on textured paper.

As I shared in my last post, in April I flew to the Marshall Islands with my sister Yuri to help her adopt a baby. After changing planes in Hawaii and flying across the international date line, we landed in Majuro, on a spit of land so narrow it appeared we were landing right in the Pacific.

adoption journey
we fly into
tomorrow

On the ride into town, on the atoll’s single road, we tried to take it all in: the coconut palms; the brown-skinned children swimming in the lagoon; the jumbled cement ugliness of the town. This was the country where Yuri’s soon-to-be son was born, and we wanted to learn everything about it.

There followed whirlwind days of meeting Yuri’s baby for the first time, along with his birth mother Florine and extended family; going through the adoption hearing; and putting in his visa request at the US Embassy. Just two days after we landed, but after a long and winding journey of many years, Yuri officially became a mother.

Enakai Paulton Makino, age three months at adoption, instantly captured our hearts. He turned out to be a beautiful, bright-eyed, lively little guy, quick to smile, interested in everything, and generally a delight.

When he came to us, he simultaneously had to separate from his birth mother, wean from breastfeeding, and learn to fall asleep without the breast. Despite all this, he was amazingly cheerful and good-natured most of the time.

baby drool
so much to taste

 I love this photo of my sister Yuri with her baby, Enakai. I took it at Eneko Beach on Majuro atoll in the Marshall Islands in April 2014.

I love this photo of my sister Yuri with her baby, Enakai. I took it at Eneko Beach on Majuro atoll in the Marshall Islands in April 2014.

Over the following weeks, Florine came to visit every couple of days, usually with her cousin. Although we faced a language barrier, we gradually learned more about Kai’s background and culture. We confirmed what the adoption agency had said: there is a strong tradition of adoption in the Marshall Islands, where it is considered a joining of two families. In a poor country where women give birth to an average of seven children, many children are adopted out. Florine’s extended family lives better than many, in a real house instead of a plywood shack, but when we visited, their refrigerator was completely bare.

Though I could understand her decision, at times I cried at the thought of what Florine had to do: turn over her beautiful baby, whom she clearly loved, to a stranger. Of course, I don’t know everything that went into her choice, but during our time there, I came to believe that it was precisely because she loved him that she was putting him up for adoption, so he could have the chance for a better life and infinitely more opportunities.

Day by day, through bottle feedings and diaper changes and nap time walks in the garden, Yuri and I tumbled deeper in love with the baby. She did most of his care while I focused on logistics, but I still got plenty of time to stare into his shining dark eyes, talk to him, and carry him around while singing the songs I once sang to my own kids.

In the weeks of waiting for Kai’s visa to arrive, we fell into a dream state; some days, we made it no farther than our hotel room balcony, with its view of palm trees. It was a time out of time as we adjusted our days to the baby’s rhythm.

After two weeks on the island, I flew home and our sister Yoshi arrived to take the second shift.

homeward bound
I fly into
yesterday

It was a tremendous gift to have been part of this magical time for Yuri and my new nephew Enakai, whose name means “glowing sea” in Hawaiian. We are grateful to all the people who helped bring this darling child into our family, especially Florine.

named for the sea
he crosses the ocean
to find his way home

Makino Studios News

Open Studios: Humboldt friends, please join silk painter Tina Gleave, feather artist Marianne Odisio and me from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. this Saturday and Sunday, May 31 and June 1 for North Coast Open Studios. We’ll be showing new work, demonstrating our tools and techniques, and serving free refreshments in the historic Samoa Women’s Club, in Samoa, California. This Times-Standard article has details.

Powell’s: I’m delighted to share that Powell's Books on Hawthorne in Portland, Oregon, considered one of the world's best bookstores, is now carrying my cards!

Haiku Awards: Two of my haiku received top honors at the annual ukiaHaiku Festival in April, held in my old hometown of Ukiah, California. (See my post from last year, Ukiah Backwards.)

rhythm of rain
the dog curls tighter
in his sleep

(1st place, General Adult, ukiaHaiku Festival 2014)

drought season
we run out of things
to say

(1st place, Dori Anderson prize for haiku about Ukiah, ukiaHaiku Festival 2014)

Summer Show: I’ll have a solo show at Humboldt Herbals in Old Town Eureka, California in July and August. The opening will be during Arts Alive Saturday, July 5, 6-9 p.m. Hope to see you there!