Light in the time of darkness

  “’Twas the night”  is available as a greeting card or small matted print. © Annette Makino 2015

“’Twas the night” is available as a greeting card or small matted print. © Annette Makino 2015

As you may have heard, the holidays are upon us. Amid the Christmas muzak and urgent appeals to buy mass-produced widgets, it’s easy to lose sight of the true spirit of the season. There is such pressure—to buy the perfect gifts, to cook lavish meals, to decorate the house festively, to have the most wonderful time ever.

toobusytostophamsterwheel

(Prune Juice, July 2015)

But I believe that behind all that, there is a simple urge. We are looking for meaning and connection with the people we love. Even if we’re not particularly religious, in the darkest time of the year, we are seeking light: the spark of magic at our holiday gatherings, the light on the faces of our family and friends, and at the most primal level, the return of the sun.

My sister once did some custom work on a house that had a special closet just for storing the family’s artificial Christmas tree, with the ornaments attached. It just needs to be carried out and dusted off each December.

The mind reels.

Instead of that painfully efficient and bloodless approach, today we are going to put on some holiday music and decorate our old-fashioned, real spruce tree with quirky ornaments. There are charmingly awkward clay decorations that the kids made in pre-school. Odd mementos from our travels, like the satin girls and boys holding their Little Red Books that my husband and I once bought in China. A family of gray and pink velvet bats that my mother once sewed for us, just because.

  “naughty or nice”  is available as a greeting card or small matted print. © Annette Makino 2015

“naughty or nice” is available as a greeting card or small matted print. © Annette Makino 2015

The bottom 37 inches of the tree will be left bare because my curious two-year old nephew is coming to town, along with my two sisters, daughter, and mother. There will be much cooking and feasting, piles of presents (several handmade), and wintry walks on the beach. In this time of deepest darkness, such light.

Happy holidays to you and yours.

warmly, Annette Makino

Makino Studios News

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

Made in Humboldt: A selection of my cards, prints and calendars is available at the Garden Shop of Pierson Building Center in Eureka, CA through Dec. 24.

2016 calendar: You can still order my wall calendar of art and haiku, featuring twelve of my paintings of landscapes, animals and flowers. For US addresses, order by December 14 to receive by Dec. 24 via standard mail.

Thanksgiving abundance

  “warmest holiday wishes”  © 2015 Annette Makino

“warmest holiday wishes” © 2015 Annette Makino

As Thanksgiving approaches, I’m thinking about the fact that we in the U.S. have a holiday that is completely devoted to gathering with our loved ones and giving thanks. Isn't it cool that in deepest, darkest November, family and friends come together to share a feast that represents abundance? Covered in gravy, with a side of cranberry sauce.

I’m grateful to be enjoying a less stressful holiday season than usual. For this month and next, I’ve consciously stepped back from some commitments and opportunities just to keep from getting overwhelmed.

As a result, I’ve had time to exchange foot rubs with my daughter Maya, who is home from college this week; play hard-fought games of Scrabble with my son Gabriel; take long hikes in the redwoods with the whole family; and pursue a few new art projects.

Quality family and creative time: that to me is true abundance. But I won't say no to a slice of pumpkin pie—or two!

More fundamentally, I’m deeply thankful to be able to create and share my art with the world. The gravy is to hear from so many of you how this work brings people joy and meaning.

Happy Thanksgiving!

warmly, Annette Makino

Makino Studios News

Free Shipping: With thanks to you, my customers and supporters, I’m offering free shipping on orders of $20 or more from my Etsy shop. Through this coming Monday, Nov. 30, type in coupon code FREESHIP2015 at checkout to qualify. You’ll find new holiday and everyday cards, art prints and a 2016 calendar of art and haiku.

Made in Humboldt: A selection of my cards, prints and calendars is now available at the Garden Shop of Pierson Building Center in Eureka, CA  through 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.

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.

The path unfolds

 “leaf light” is based on a 19×12 original, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on rice paper. It is available as a signed 11×14 digital print or a card. © 2013 Annette Makino

“leaf light” is based on a 19×12 original, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on rice paper. It is available as a signed 11×14 digital print or a card. © 2013 Annette Makino

Our daughter started college this fall. Before it happened, I couldn’t fully understand how much lies behind that simple statement—hope and excitement for your child’s future mixed with worry and sadness at their leaving.

For weeks after we dropped Maya off, the smallest thing could bring me to tears, like measuring oatmeal for three instead of four. My husband, son and I all miss her effervescent spirit, affectionate nature and hilarious observations. She has left our home quieter, tidier, and less exciting. It seems unfair that after eighteen years of the hard work of parenting, now that she’s pretty much perfect, she’s gone!

But happily, I got to visit Maya at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington earlier this month. (In a sweet bit of synchronicity, my freshman roommate at Stanford lives ten blocks from campus, so I also got to visit this dear friend.) To my delight, Maya decided to accompany me to the Seabeck Haiku Getaway.

geese arrowing south
part of my heart
in the passenger seat

For four days along beautiful Hood Canal, fifty poets talked, wrote and shared haiku, and I enjoyed giving a presentation on the process of creating my haiga (haiku art). As ever, it was a fun and inspiring retreat, and there was even time to hike through the woods and soak up sunlight by the lagoon.

awakened
by the breakfast bell—
sun through cedars

 Haiku ahead! Annette Makino and daughter Maya at the Seabeck Haiku Getaway, October 2015.

Haiku ahead! Annette Makino and daughter Maya at the Seabeck Haiku Getaway, October 2015.

Between studying and writing essays for school, Maya penned some fine haiku of her own, like this one:

autumn clouds
all the people
I could be

And at the end of the long weekend, two of my poems, less than an hour old, won prizes in the “kukai” haiku contest. This one, written while lying under a big maple tree with Maya, is a gentle message to myself in this time of transition:

a gust of wind
swirls through the maple—
the art of letting go

Back in 2013, when I returned from Seabeck, I created the “leaf light” piece above based on a forest trail there. Thinking about Maya’s leaving, it is a reminder to have faith in times of loss, change and uncertainty—and to keep walking.

leaf light
tree by tree
the path unfolds

 •

Makino Studios News

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

New cards: I’ve posted eleven new and updated card designs to the MakinoStudios Etsy shop and they are also available in stores.

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.

Connecting: I appreciate the kind responses to my last post, “One brushstroke at a time.” You can also get news, art and haiku on my Makino Studios Facebook page and my Twitter feed.

"leaf light" has been published in The Sacred in Contemporary Haiku, edited by Robert Epstein, 2014; and in the 2013 Seabeck anthology, A Warm Welcome (it is also used for the cover art).

One brushstroke at a time

 “water and stone” is 11×14, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper. Signed prints are available for $35. © 2015 Annette Makino

“water and stone” is 11×14, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper. Signed prints are available for $35. © 2015 Annette Makino

When I first tried sumi ink painting five years ago, I struggled. There was frustration. There was angst.

In this ancient medium, you grind an ink stick made of pine soot and glue in an ink stone with a few drops of water, then paint with bamboo brushes on rice paper. Sounds simple enough, right? But in practice, there are many ways to go wrong—and I excelled at all of them.

I ground the ink too thin and it dried sad and gray on the paper; I ground it too thick and my strokes ran out early, gasping for ink. I got too much water in the brush and my strokes grew wide and blobby. I moved my arm too slowly and the lines looked tentative; too quickly and the lines skipped and went awry.

But with the encouragement of family and friends, I kept plugging away.  Occasionally, almost by accident, a painting would work, and that was enough to keep me going.

water and stone
how we shape
each other

Multiplying the challenges, I soon added Japanese watercolors (gansai paints) to my pieces. And I gradually moved away from the simple lines and white backgrounds of traditional Japanese ink painting toward more colorful and detailed pieces—images involving tricky subjects like animal fur, water reflections or storm clouds. In the words of management guru Tom Peters, I learned to “fail forward fast.”

 A sumi ink stick is ground in an ink stone with a bit of water. Traditionally, the resulting ink is applied onto rice paper with bamboo brushes. Photo © 2011 Yoshi Makino

A sumi ink stick is ground in an ink stone with a bit of water. Traditionally, the resulting ink is applied onto rice paper with bamboo brushes. Photo © 2011 Yoshi Makino

I feel oddly shy sharing this, but I’ve recently had a breakthrough. After years of effort in which my failed paintings ended up as wrapping paper, I think I may be getting the hang of this. Somehow, the dozen paintings I’ve created this summer radiate a new level of aliveness. The sea foam looks lighter, the flower petals more delicate, the river wetter.

blue brushstrokes
the sea laps the edge
of the page

I haven’t yet put in the requisite ten thousand hours of practice to achieve mastery. But I’m getting closer. A few days ago I hung a solo show of local Humboldt landscapes, called “Water & Earth,” and I feel it’s my strongest body of work to date. The journey continues, but I am pausing here to appreciate the view.

rice paper moon
pine trees brush
the inky sky

Makino Studios News

Water & Earth: My current show features landscape paintings inspired by Humboldt County’s beautiful wild places. It is on view at Libation on the plaza in Arcata, California through August 2015, along with my cards and prints.

North Country Fair: Celebrate the fall equinox at the 42nd annual North Country Fair in Arcata the weekend of Sept. 19-20. This festive event features 200 booths, live music on two stages, and two parades. My booth will be in the usual spot on G Street near 9th.

Fieldbrook Art & Wine Festival: The following weekend I’ll have a booth at this lovely event at the Fieldbrook Winery in Fieldbrook, California on Saturday, Sept. 26, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Seabeck Haiku Getaway: This fun and inspiring gathering of haiku poets takes place on Washington State’s beautiful Kitsap Peninsula Oct. 1-4. I will be giving a presentation of my haiga (haiku art) there.

Before we were tamed: Thanks so much to all who came to see Tina Gleave and me at Ramone’s in June during North Coast Open Studios and who visited our show!

Connecting: You can get news, fresh art and haiku on my Makino Studios Facebook page and my Twitter feed.

Before we were tamed

 “fox tracks” is 11×14, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper. It is also available as  a card reading “happy birthday, bright spirit.”  © 2015 Annette Makino

“fox tracks” is 11×14, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper. It is also available as a card reading “happy birthday, bright spirit.” © 2015 Annette Makino

For the past twenty years, my family and I have lived in the country on the side of a redwood-covered hill. In the morning the woods fill with bird conversations, and we often glimpse deer and foxes wandering past our house.

A raccoon that hung around our compost pile got nicknamed Deke, short for “decomposition.” But when “he” showed up one day trailing four fluffy baby raccoons, we had to rename her Delilah. Because we don’t have the heart to chase them off, Delilah and her grown children have grown quite comfortable strolling past our windows and staring at us curiously.

watchful eyes . . .
bit by bit the wild raccoon
tames us

Living among all this wildlife has gotten me thinking about humans’ connection with nature: what we’ve forgotten, what we can learn, and what we know deep down. At a time when human activity is pervading every corner of the planet, from the deepest oceans to near space, I’m wondering what it means to be wild.

fox tracks . . .
who were we before
we were tamed?

 “love from the gang” is 11×14, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper. It is also available as  a card reading “love from the gang.”  © 2015 Annette Makino

“love from the gang” is 11×14, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper. It is also available as a card reading “love from the gang.” © 2015 Annette Makino

Despite our complex civilizations and sophisticated technologies, we humans share 90% of our DNA with mice. How different are we really from Delilah and her children?

With such questions in the back of my mind, this spring I painted a series featuring our woodland neighbors and some of the natural places around Humboldt County.

chigger bites
my finger traces
the wilderness map

The road to our house runs along a lovely little stream shaded by redwoods, alders and maples. But if you look closely, you can find chunks of styrofoam hidden in an old-growth redwood stump. Old appliances and bags of contaminated soil from marijuana grows are dumped just above the stream bed.

Though humans are supposed to be the most advanced species on the planet, ours is the only one foolish enough to destroy its own habitat. Can we remember how to live in balance before it’s too late? Can we regain the common sense of the common field mouse? Perhaps by the simple act of spending more time in nature, walking, watching and listening, we can start to feel our wild hearts again.

in wilderness
we find our way home

Makino Studios News

North Coast Open Studios: I'll be on hand to share my new wilderness-inspired paintings at Ramone’s Bakery & Café in Old Town Eureka, California this coming Saturday and Sunday, June 6-7, from 11 to 5 both days. My friend Tina Gleave will show her stunning silk paintings of landscapes and other natural images. We’ll also demonstrate our tools and techniques and have new cards and prints for sale. In addition, there will be a free raffle with two prizes: we are each giving away a $25 gift certificate towards our art.

Arts Alive at Ramone’s: Piggybacking on our Open Studios event, Tina and I have a joint show at Ramone’s called “Before we were tamed.” There will bean opening during Arts Alive this Saturday, June 6, from 6 to 9 p.m., and the show runs through June.

New Cards: Twenty-four new and updated card designs are now available in my MakinoStudios Etsy shop. I’ve also clarified how you can order any six designs for $19.99. (My shop will be closed June 13-20 while I’m on a painting vacation.)

Haiku Award: I’m happy to share that one of my haiku won the Dori Anderson prize for the best haiku about Ukiah, California at this year's ukiaHaiku Festival.

Mendocino spring
only ten shades of green
in my paint set

New Fortuna Store: My cards can now be found at Madame Fortuna's Lucky Heart Shop, a store selling herbs, orchids, books, and gifts that just opened in Fortuna, California. See the Store page for a complete list of places that carry my cards.

Connecting: I always love hearing from you. You can get news, fresh art and haiku on my Makino Studios Facebook page and my Twitter feed.

An earlier version of the haiku “fox tracks” first appeared in The Heron’s Nest, XVII:1. “Chigger bites” was published in The Heron’s Nest, XVII:2.

Juicy bugs and other treats

Happy Haiku Poetry Day! To celebrate, I’m sharing a selection of the haiku and senryu I’ve had published in the past year. (And if, like most people, you were taught that haiku in English need to follow the 5-7-5 syllable pattern, think again. On his Graceguts site, haiku poet Michael Dylan Welch explains why that is an urban myth, and the secrets of how to write good haiku.)