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The art of etching in Printmaking

Cape Palette View from front

Etching is one of the oldest techniques in printmaking and continues to be a popular method of creating images. One of the reasons why artists enjoy etching is the unique characteristics of this medium that can produce prints with intricate details and textures. In this blog post, we'll explore how etching work in printmaking is done and showcase the works of some notable artists who have made significant contributions to the genre.


Etching is a process that involves using acid to etch lines into a metal plate, typically copper or zinc. The plate is first coated with a layer of acid-resistant ground, and then the artist draws their image into the ground using a sharp needle, exposing the metal underneath. The plate is then immersed in acid, which eats away at the exposed metal and creates grooves that will hold the ink for printing.

We have been fortunate to display quite a few creative prints done by local artists such as:

Dianne Johnson Ackerman's etching prints of old barns and farmhouses, for example, are perfect examples of the intricate and detailed work that can be achieved through etching. Her attention to detail and the use of strong tonal contrasts create a sense of nostalgia and rural charm that captures the essence of the Karoo.

Ian Tainton is another artist who is known for his etching prints, often set out as comic strips, or of nature.

Johan Booyens is another notable artist who has made significant contributions to etching as a printmaking technique. His work is centred around the complex symbiotic relationship between humans and the natural world that houses us. Drawing on Gregory Bateson’s position that the unit for survival = (organism + environment), he attempts to position his practice as that environment required for growth as a printmaking artist.

Johann Booyens

Ig Terblanche and Kobus Lots are other notable artists who have created stunning etching prints. Their works showcase the versatility of the etching medium, with each artist using the technique to create unique and beautiful images.

Etching is a unique and versatile technique that has been used by artists for centuries to create intricate and detailed prints. From the beautiful pieces we have seen, etching continues to be a popular choice for artists looking to capture the essence of the world around them.

In the world of printmaking, every numbered etch print is a unique and original work of art, regardless of how many copies are made and the pieces we have on display are all numbered and of value to both the artist and enthusiast.


Ian Tainton

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