Michigan-based artist and filmmaker Mary Brodbeck turns the camera on her work in creating woodblock prints. Inspired by the works of the great Japanese woodblock print masters Hiroshige and Hokusai, Brodbeck moves in a community of like-minded Western and Japanese creative artists eager to keep this ancient art form alive and relevant.
The film offers a careful demonstration of the complex and time-consuming efforts that go into creating this visually vibrant art form. To her credit, Brodbeck is a charming on-screen presence and a patient instructor, and she demonstrates the intensive preparations and surplus amount of materials required for creating a woodblock print.
This is not an endeavor for those demanding speed. The planning that Brodbeck puts into the work and the very careful consideration of materials being used – especially in regard to the watercolor inks that give the prints their sharp hues – brings a Zen-worthy appreciation to the creative process. The film is also opened to other contemporary woodblock print creators as well as an appreciation of the classic Japanese works that still inspire and intrigue art lovers. And poet-philosopher Mark Nepo provides a gentle running commentary on how the creative process impacts those that pursue this work.
This marvelous documentary short is truly fascinating and invigorating, and the gallery of woodblock prints presented at the film’s closing is a joy to behold.