Maki was born in Japan and grew up in small seaside villages in Hokkaido, northern Japan, where she often sat or played along the beach.  Her early influences were the ocean, the shore, the birds and islands she saw both in reality and in her imagination. She began painting in high school and continued through college and graduate school where she was strongly influenced by the colours and themes of western religious/iconic art.

>Maki has exhibited widely in Australia and her paintings live in homes around this country, Japan, the U.S and Europe, always evoking strong emotions for viewers of her art. Maki’s paintings show a world that exists both nowhere and everywhere, in the real world and in our dreams. They display a combination of oriental and western sensibilities and defy single term categories.

Iconography and symbolism are at the heart of Maki Horanai's paintings. Her works recall the beautiful surfaces and sacred intricacies of religious paintings of the high renaissance. Maki manipulates her acrylic paints to mimic the dense and precious hues of tempera and gold leaf. Her landscapes are populated by figures, maybe human or maybe divine, interacting in a stylised and dreamlike landscape. Her work reflects an elegant marriage of artistic influences and cultural learning.

The works are intricate and complex, each painting combining multiple representative elements and surface effects. 

Maki’s symbolic lexicon does not come with translation, the features of the paintings give a strong sense of meaning, but this meaning is not explained. The significance of her compositions remain open to the fresh interpretation of each viewer. Maki says that she is not aware of the meaning of her paintings as she works, rather finding the stories revealed towards the end of the painting process. This inscrutability, whether affected or authentic, results in works that do not reveal concrete truths but rather seem to echo ancient tales. Maki's works are beautiful, technically graceful and conceptually wistful.