When doubts creep in

“plain brown bulb” is 8x10, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper and digitally edited. It is available as a  birthday card reading “happy birthday to the one and only you.”  © Annette Makino 2016

“plain brown bulb” is 8x10, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper and digitally edited. It is available as a birthday card reading “happy birthday to the one and only you.” © Annette Makino 2016

A woman I recently met at a dinner party told me that she has one of my cards on her altar, right next to a card featuring the Dalai Lama. (The card is shown below.) I am honored and touched that my art means so much to her.

Her story comes at an opportune time, as I must confess I’ve been having one of my periodic phases of doubt about my art business.

I sold more than 12,000 cards last year, plus 500-plus calendars and many paintings and prints. Yet I still wonder: is this art gig worthwhile? Yes, it’s incredibly rewarding to create art that touches people. But as chief cook and brush washer at Makino Studios, I also do an awful lot of accounting, order fulfillment, and marketing, among other uninspiring tasks.

again these doubts
a fresh crop of mushrooms
sprouts on the porch

My inner critic has a few more pointed questions, such as: Is your art really any good? Is it truly original? At a time when our country and environment are in peril, is this the best use of your energy? Does the world really need more pretty pictures and poetry?

I’m not in it for the money— just ask my tax accountant! But with freedom from financial pressure comes the work of deciding your values and priorities. When you can spend your days doing (almost) anything you want, that leaves you with some big choices to make. 

In some ways, it sounds pretty appealing to just lie on the couch nibbling chocolate all day. But as the late Mary Oliver asked, “Listen—are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?”

Say I manage to shoo away the inner critic and affirm that creating art and haiku is my top priority. It’s not so simple to define or measure the success of my work. Is it the satisfaction of creative expression? Positive responses from customers and fans? Increasing sales, haiku publications and awards? Feeling I am making a difference in the world? 

Thinking about it, I realize that all of those elements are happening to one degree or another—and they are all intertwined. If these are my markers of success, then never mind the profit/loss statement: I believe my art biz is flourishing and my time is well-spent. Or at least until the next crop of doubts pops up…

plain brown bulb
the mystery
of becoming

“through sun and cloud” is 5x7, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper. It is available as a  greeting card . © Annette Makino 2013

“through sun and cloud” is 5x7, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper. It is available as a greeting card. © Annette Makino 2013

Makino Studios News

15% off greeting cards: In January I raised my card prices for the first time since starting my business in 2011. Single cards now retail for $4.50 each. But you can use promo code 6CARDS at checkout to receive 15% off any six or more single cards. 

Custom Paintings: 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.

Studio visits: I don’t have any public events planned right now, but you can visit my studio by appointment; just email or call me at the contacts below. I look forward to connecting!

Every day is a gift . . .

“evening stars” is 11x14, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper. It is also available as a  signed print , or as a  greeting card  reading “peace be with you.” © Annette Makino 2018

“evening stars” is 11x14, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper. It is also available as a signed print, or as a greeting card reading “peace be with you.” © Annette Makino 2018

Well, I wanted to write a heartfelt and inspiring new year’s message, one that summed up this crazy year and offered sparks of hope for 2019. 

Despite the madness emanating from the “very stable genius” in the White House and his enablers, despite the increasingly dire consequences of climate change, there is much for which I’m grateful. That includes my family, a beautiful and supportive place to live and meaningful work as an artist and haiku poet.

evening stars . . .
one by one counting
our blessings

Among these “blessings” was an unexpected and speedy way to drop those holiday pounds: a bout of food poisoning! As one of my cards says, “every day is a gift—sometimes it’s fruitcake.” 

Consequently, I don’t have the energy to write much today. So let me just cut to the chase: thank you for supporting my art, and here’s wishing you all the best for the new year!

“every day is a gift” is 5x7, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper. It is available as a  greeting card . © Annette Makino 2014

“every day is a gift” is 5x7, painted with sumi ink and Japanese watercolors on paper. It is available as a greeting card. © Annette Makino 2014

Makino Studios News

Haiku award: I’m honored that the following haiku, published in Frogpond 41:3, has won the Museum of Haiku Literature Award, presented by the Haiku Society of America:

fog-shrouded coast
we listen
to the view

2019 calendar of art and haiku: Could you use a small 2019 calendar which serves as a rotating monthly art show? I’ve still got a few in stock!

Thank you cards: With the holidays over, it’s time for thank you cards! I offer boxed sets of eight sweet little wildflower notecards with kraft envelopes.