inspiration and process

Nature is my major source of inspiration and spiritual renewal. Taking notice of our beautiful, ever-changing world makes me feel good and more in tune with the universe.

Seeing in shapes

Lake Biwa, Japan  

Through the woodblock medium, I make images of land, sea, and sky using a visual language of shapes, colors, and textures.

I credit my ability to see and interpret the world in this way to having a background in design.

I was educated in Industrial Design and worked as a furniture designer for many years. I loved the work but at some point – maybe it was because of my upbringing – I felt the need to change my focus in order to have a closer relationship with the environment.

I went back to college, where it was my good fortune to receive a five-month-long fellowship to learn Japanese woodblock printmaking in Tokyo. My teacher was Yoshisuke Funasaka.

Working with my hands and with the close-to-the-earth materials utilized in the Japanese woodblock process is very enjoyable. And separating pictures into color components is a fun design challenge. In sum, this process embodies the perfect blend of design, craft, and expression for me.

Placing paper on the block –  Carving the block –

A process brought to life

Woodblock prints are impressions on paper made from carved and inked blocks. Multi-color prints require separate woodblocks for each of the different colors. My images are usually constructed from 8 to 10 woodblocks and up to 30 layered impressions.

Wet ink on the block –  Pulling print from the block –

Each step in the process – the carving, inking, and printing – is performed by hand. I relate the hand-touch printing process to playing music on a piano. Like applying pressure to the keys on a piano, how hard you press really matters. My aspiration is to make each performance – each step in the process – brought to life with feeling, finesse, and discovery.

I continue to be inspired by the shapes of clouds, the colors of water, the textures of tress – and by the immensity, and sheer wonder of the cosmos. After over twenty years of studio practice, I find that the woodblock printmaking process still inspires me to see and experience life in new ways.

Mary Brodbeck

Mary Brodbeck in studio

Mary Brodbeck has studied, employed, and taught the traditional methods of Japanese woodblock printmaking since 1998. The Zen-like qualities of her landscapes have received critical acclaim in both Japan and the United States. They can be found in the permanent collection at the Detroit Institute of Arts and in many private collections worldwide.

See my CV.

Learn more about classes.  

Check out my prints.

Mary Brodbeck Woodblock Prints

610 W. Willard St., Studio D • Kalamazoo, MI 49007 • 269-344-6654 •

* Original Woodblock Prints * Guest Lecturer and Instructor * Documentary Film * Greeting Cards *
© 2018 Mary Brodbeck Productions LLC