Terry McKenna Mokuhanga Artist
Terry's Mokuhanga and work as a Mokuhanga Artist
"I work with the traditional Japanese woodblock print technique - "Mokuhanga". Since childhood I've loved all kinds of art and making creative objects. I have a compulsion to create art objects and speak with my heart and hands with the inherent beauty of materials and images. I also feel very fortunate that I can continue making my woodblock prints. I strive with each new work to create something original and compelling."
Why do I work in mokuhanga?
~ Mokuhanga combines my passions for traditional skills and material craftsmanship with the versatility and freedom of the medium
~ It has been and continues to be an exciting challenge to master the variety and complications of the technique
~ I love the inherent beauty of the materials and tools – Washi has its’ own warmth, softness and lustre that is retained in the process and the tools and equipment are simple, constructed from natural materials with beautiful and functional design.
~ I have always appreciated and been excited by the imagery, colours, compositions and flatness of Ukiyo-e
~ The variety of approaches and possibilities are truly inspiring!
Since childhood I’ve loved art and making art. I remember one of my first days at school drawing a car. I put in all the details I could visualise clearly.. door handles, bumper bars, headlights and panel trim, swept up wheel arches, tyres and hubs.. I looked at the drawing the boy next to me was drawing, it looked like a potato! I thought to myself “he mustn’t be able to see a car properly.”
I didn’t know until later that the skill of observing and recording in art was a gift that not all people had or developed.
I’ve always thought of myself as an artist and maker and believed I could create anything. Whether I could or not is a different truth, but the idea sustains me as an artist.
After high school I entered art university, however finding it difficult to fit the mould, and although I produced good work, it was failed. I embarked on creative pathways that included continuing with fine arts of painting and drawing, sculpture, metal engineering, smithing and welding, woodwork including guitar repair and toy-making. Later in New Zealand, I found more amenable tertiary environments and eventually achieved a Masters Degree in 2002.
I’ve made art and other creative objects all my life and early on as an adult focussed on oil painting. My imagery was contemporary and I’ve always been somewhat of an upholder of tradition when it comes to the craft and materials of art making. I produced many large artworks, however I moved to a much smaller house with no studio and my adventures with woodblock printmaking began!
At first I produced works with Western techniques and materials but it wasn’t long before I aspired to learn the Japanese technique and began a period of self-study. I made a lot of mistakes and spoiled a lot of expensive paper. I feel very fortunate to spend two years living in Kyoto and studying with Richard Steiner. The experiences I had there have changed my life and opened new possibilities for me. Having a highly experienced practitioner and skilled teacher was enormously beneficial, with a few words or short demonstration I could quickly learn what was going wrong and improve my skills.
I feel immensely grateful to the generations of artisans who have perfected and shared the techniques of mokuhanga, and to the teachers and artists in Japan and other countries who share their work and experience.
View current and past work for sale in our online shop Here
The Knife School
刀の刃教室 Tou-no-ha Kyoushitsu - The Knife School
Starting in 2011 Terry was fortunate to spend two years living in Kyoto, Japan and studying under established mokuhanga artist and teacher, Richard Steiner, who was taught by the Hiroshima mokuhanga master Masahiko Tokumitsu 徳光真散彦, one of the founders of the Independant Print Movement in Japan. Read about Tokumitsu Sensei and see some of his work: GALLERY HERE.
Richard received his teacher's license and artist's name 刀斉 Tousai (Flexible knives) from Mr Tokumitsu.
This is the traditional system in Japan, where the teacher decides whether the student has reached the appropriate level to work and teach others on their own.
At the end of his time with Richard, Terry was fortunate to receive a teacher's license and name 刀楽 Touraku, from him.
About Richard Steiner
Richard Steiner has been teaching mokuhanga in Kyoto for the past 40 years to a variety of students: Westerners, Japanese, and children. As a Western artist who learned from a traditional Japanese teacher, Masahiko Tokumitsu, he is able to teach mokuhanga in a way that is accessible for both Japanese and Western students. For many years Richard has taught from his studio in the heart of Kyoto.
You can find more information about Richard and his work on his personal website Richard Steiner's Home Page
Recently Richard held a 50 year retrospective in Kyoto. You can see a short video of the exhibition here:
About Masahiko Tokumitsu
Masahiko Tokumitsu 徳光真散彦, was one of the founders of the Independant Print Movement in Japan, a colleague and contemparary of Munakata Shiko. Mr Tokumitsu lived and worked in Hiroshima and was effected by the wartime bombing there, although being out of the city at the time, so was spared the worst effects. He recounted using any scrap of wood he could find beside the road after the war to create mokuhanga(1). Later in his life he was a successful teacher of mokuhanga with many students, including Richard Steiner. He received his teacher's name 思刀 (Shitou - Thoughtful Knives) from his teacher.
He had multiple exhibitions and undertook many commission projects, however did not receive the recognition of some of his contemporary printmakers. After his death his family has chosen to restrict any promotion or sales of his work.(2)
Below is a gallery of some of his works, from the collection of Richard Steiner.
(1) Personal conversation, Richard Steiner, 2011
(2) Personal conversation, Richard Steiner, 2011
A gallery of mokuhanga artworks created by Hiroshima mokuhanga artist Masahiko Tokumitsu.
The best place to see our latest activites, new work and news is on our Instagram page. We continaully add new posts with lots of background information in each post.
Please take the time to find and follow our Instagram account here: @mokuhangaschool