Before we were tamed

painting of red fox

“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?

painting of three raccoons

“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 be an 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.

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