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The Unfinished Print

Apr 27, 2023

In mokuhanga, nature plays a large part in the process. Using wood, water, natural paper, and even natural pigments can bring you closer to the natural world, closer to the root of all things. From that natural process, many mokuhanga artists will use nature as a subject in their work. By portraying the mountains, forests, rivers and lakes, these subjects manifest the world from a different perspective on paper. 

On this episode of the Unfinished Print, I speak with Michigan-based mokuhanga printmaker Mary Brodbeck. Her work delves deeply into the natural world and colours of Michigan. Mary speaks on her mokuhanga process, colours, and technique, learning by watching, her early experiences with Japan, and the nature of the creative process. We also discuss the exhibition In Kalamazoo, Michigan, Cross Currents: East/West, with her teacher Yoshisuke Funasaka. 

Please follow The Unfinished Print and my own mokuhanga work on Instagram @andrezadoroznyprints or email me at 

Notes: may contain a hyperlink. Simply click on the highlighted word or phrase.

Artists works follow after the note. Pieces are mokuhanga unless otherwise noted. Dimensions are given if known.

Mary Brodbeck  - website, Instagram, Facebook

Becoming Made Documentary - is a documentary produced by Mary Brodbeck. It is a document about mokuhanga, its practitioners, and those associated with the art form. You can find the documentary here

Cross Currents East/West - is an exhibition held in Kalamazoo, Michigan. It is an exhibition showcasing the works of Japanese mokuhanga and serigrapher Yoshisuke Funasaka and his student Mary Brodbeck. Both artists are exhibiting various works. The exhibit runs from May 12-July 28th, 2023. You can find more information regarding the exhibition here

Western Michigan University - is a public research university based in Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA. and was established in 1903. You can find more information here.

Yoshisuke Funasaka - is an award-winning mokuhanga and serigrapher based in Tōkyō, Japan. You can find a fine biography about Funasaka here at

Black Night Ginza (1991) 24 4/5" x 17 3/4"

Ox-Bow School of Art - was founded in 1910 and is associated with the School of the Art Insitute of Chicago (SAIC). It is a nonprofit artist’s residency located in Saugatuck, Michigan. You can find information here

sumi - is a rich black stick or liquid used by artists, calligraphers, and traditional Japanese horimono tattoo artists. Sumi is made from the soot of burnt lamp oil. Sumi is used predominantly in key blocks in traditional mokuhanga and to mix pigments. Pigment Tōkyō conducts a great interview with their chief of pigments, Kei Iwaizumi, about sumi ink, here.

kentō - is the registration system used by printmakers in order to line up the colour woodblocks with your key block, or outline block, carved first. 

Daniel Smith Pigments - is a company which makes various types of paints, pigments, and mediums. It was started by Dan Smith in 1976. More info can be found, here

shin hanga - is a style of Japanese woodblock printmaking which began during the end of the ukiyo-e period of Japanese printmaking, in the early 20th Century. Focusing on the foreign demand for “traditional” Japanese imagery and motifs such as castles, bridges, famous landscapes, bamboo forests, to name just a few.  Shin hanga was born in 1915 by Watanabe Shōzaburō (1885-1962) when he found Austrian artist Frtiz Capelari (1884-1950) and commissioned Capelari to design some prints for Watanabe's feldgling printing house . From there shin-hanga evolved into its own distinct “new” style of Japanese woodblock printing. It lasted as this distinct style until its innevitable decline after the Second World War (1939-1945).

Fuji-san From Yamazaka (1931) by Hiroshi Yoshida

shina - is a type of Japanese plywood used in mokuhanga. Not all shina is made equally, buyer beware.  

vellum - is a plant-based, translucent and opaque paper constructed with cellulose. Used as tracing paper and has multiple uses. You can find more information about vellum and its uses here.  

April Vollmer - is an established artist who works predominantly in mokuhanga. Her book Japanese Woodblock Print Workshop is one of the most authoritative books on the subject and has influenced many mokuhanga artists. You can find my interview with The Unfinished Print can be found here

Richard Steiner - is a mokuhanga printmaker, author and teacher based in Kyōto, Japan. He is originally from Michigan and moved to Japan over fifty years ago. Richard prints many different subjects and themes. You can find his interview with The Unfinished Print here

floating kentō - is a removable registration system attached to the block when printing. As the kentō isn't affixed to the block, blotting and immaculate borders are positives of this registration method. It is an "L" shape. 

Mark Nepo - is a poet and philosopher who lives and works in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He has written many books on spirituality and manifesting a wonderful positive life. You can find more information on his website here

Michigan, USA -  originally inhabited by various indigenous cultures and tribes such as early Hopewell Culture, Ojibwe, and Iroquois. European settlers settled in the early 17th century. Michigan, located in the Midwestern region of the United States, has a rich and varied history. 
The French ceded Michigan to the British in 1763 following the French and Indian War, and it became part of the United States after the American Revolution.
Michigan became a state in 1837, and its early years were marked by rapid industrialization and growth. The state became a hub for lumber production, mining, and manufacturing, particularly in the automotive industry. In the early 20th century, entrepreneurs such as Henry Ford and Ransom Olds revolutionized the automotive industry, and Detroit became known as the "Motor City."
The state also played a prominent role in the Civil Rights Movement, with figures such as Rosa Parks and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. making essential contributions.
In recent decades, Michigan has faced economic challenges, particularly in the wake of the automotive industry's decline. However, the state remains a necessary research, manufacturing, and innovation center. It is home to major universities and research institutions such as the University of Michigan and Michigan State University. You can find more information about Michigan at 
Lawren Harris (1885-1970) - was a member of the Canadian group of painters, The Group Of Seven. He lived in the United States (New Hampshire and New Mexico), ultimately returning to Canada in 1940. He painted the Canadian landscape predominantly in Ontario in Algonquin Park and Algoma. 
Greenland Mountains (ca. 1930) oil on canvas 107.4 x 128.4 cm
The Group of Seven - was a group of landscape painters from Canada. The artists were Franklin Carmichael (1890–1945), Lawren Harris (1885–1970), A.Y. Jackson 1882–1974), Frank Johnston (1888–1949), Arthur Lismer (1885–1969), J.E.H MacDonald (1873–1932), and Frederick Varley (1881–1969). Later, A.J. Casson (1898–1992) was invited to join in 1926, Edwin Holdgate (1892–1977) became a member in 1930, and LeMoine FitzGerald (1890–1956) joined in 1932. While Tom Thomspon (1877–1917) and Emily Carr (1871–1945) were not "official" members, they are considered to be a part of the group because of their relationships with members. More info can be found here. A fine article on the CBC by Cree writer Matteo Cimellaro discusses The Group of Seven's role in Canadian nationalism and the exclusion of First Nation's voices in their work. You can find this article here
Tom Thomson - Round Lake, Mud Bay (1915) oil on wood 21.5 x 26.8
Algoma - is a geographical district in the Northeastern Canadian province of Ontario. Algoma runs on the Lakes Superior and Huron. It has famously been represented in art by The Group of Seven. You can find more information about Algoma here
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opening and closing musical credit - Get On The Good Foot - Pt. 1 & 2 by James Brown. From the record Get On The Good Foot (1972) Polydor. 

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***The opinions expressed by guests in The Unfinished Print podcast are not necessarily those of André Zadorozny and of Popular Wheat Productions.***