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The Unfinished Print

Oct 22, 2020

Join me for the final part of my two part interview with printmaker Will Francis. What started as a discussion about pigments, used historically and currently in the world of mokuhanga, quickly  morphed into a lively discussion about what it means to be a mokuhanga artist in modern times. 

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Show Notes: all links are hyperlinked. Just click!

Will Francis: Patreon and website 

cochineal pigment 

Hokusai 36 Views of Mount Fuji 

Prussian blue pigment 


Natalie Stopka has a very good article written on her website regarding indigo pigment

Shōzaburō Watanabe (1885-1945) - an entrepreneur and publisher who kicked off what would become one of the most significant chapters in mokuhanga history. It was his vision which brought together artists from the yōga and nihonga schools of Japanese art to help make woodblock prints in the ukiyo-e tradition. A fantastic book on the subject is Seven Masters20th Century Japanese Woodblock Prints from The Wells Collection. There is a detailed history of the shin-hanga movement and those involved.

sepia pigment 

ochre pigment - great article of earth pigments from ThoughtCo.

Harunobu Suzuki (1725- 1770) One of the original nishiki-e printmakers. His prints would pave the way for many who would make and design prints in design and subject matter. 

overprinting - this is a term coined for printing the same spot on a print over and over again to get the desired colour, depth and richness. 

Lucy Morrish is Will Francis’ partner. She works on illuminated manuscripts and uses vellum for this work. Her work is spectacular. Her website will tell you everything you need to know regarding her process and her works. 

shell gold pigment - article is from

gouache pigment - great article on

Laura Boswell - printmaker based in the UK and is a teacher of Will Francis. You can find her work here, and her YouTube channel here. 

sōsaku hanga - a style of mokuhanga which involves a more free approach to printmaking where one person does the design, carving, and printing in their own. Good article here from Ronin Gallery in NYC. 

Hashiguchi Gōyō (1881-1921) - a yōga painter who transitioned to designing a single woodblock print for Watanabe and then designed on his own. His life was cut short at 40 by meningitis. He left a lasting legacy on the Japanese print through the design and construction of his work, especially with the design of images of women. 

CMYK printing 

Henri Matisse (1864-1954) - French artist who was arguably influenced by Japanese woodblock prints.  While although not officially connected to the Japonisme movement of the later 19th Century because of his age, Matisse did make the occasional woodcut as well as used the flat colouring of ukiyo-e for some of his work especially in his Paris period and his later years with his decoupage. 

Shikō Munakata (1903-1975) - eccentric folk woodblock artist who in an almost free-hand manner created some of most fascinating mokuhanga of the 20th century. He also painted oils and in watercolour. 

Toyohara Kunichika (1835-1900) - is the greatest artist associated with the woodblock print. His designs, for me, forever altered the way prints have been seen. His use of movement and his use of the five elements, especially for his triptychs, are powerful and electric. The decadence of his work only enhances the visual power of what can be done with the art form. 

Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892) - one of the most famous woodblock artists Yoshitoshi’s powerful, grotesque, and bloody images have inspired tattoo culture in Japan and around the world. While Kunichika stayed within the boundaries of ukiyo-e, Yoshitoshi bent the rules and used a more “modern” perspective in his work which mirrored the chaos of Japan historically at that time. 

Hiroshi Yoshida (1876-1950) - an all encompassing artist Hiroshi Yoshida was the person who really personifies the Japanese print of the 20th century. Trained in Western oil painting, he developed an affinity for the woodblock print before meeting with Watanabe in the 1920’s. Yoshida would take what Watanabe was doing and would continue it throughout his life, albeit with a different philosophy.  This influence on woodblock printing has been felt well into the 21st century. Yoshida hired carvers and printers for his works, as well as carved on his own. At the time of his death he had produced 250 woodblock prints. His books on the subject are some of the most important books an aspiring or seasoned woodblock artist can own. Mokuhankan published his work on their website for those who are interested. 

kuroko - are the shadow men who help kabuki actors and bunraku puppets with their garments and stage direction. 

opening credit background music: Born Under A Bad Sign by Albert King (1967)

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