Print Perfect

What to buy mama for Mother’s Day? Anna has an idea.

AnnaGroden_headshotAnna Groden

When it comes to buying art, many people think – high dollars and specialist investment. However, art can suit all budgets and all occasions and it certainly contributes character to a home.

So have you thought about buying Mum a beautiful piece of art for Mother’s Day or adding an artwork to your own wish list?

Often original oil and acrylic paintings on canvas are priced well into the thousands if not tens of thousands and yet many artists and art lovers have delved into the more affordable world of printmaking. Prints are great! They are examples of your favourite artists’ imagery, subjects and compositions, at prices that reflect the fact that they are produced in multiple editions. This is why they are often called ‘multiple originals’ as the number of works is confined to a specific print run.

For example, while a Bromley 111 x 75 cm canvas costs around $6,000, the same size screenprint in a small edition of only 30, will set you back $1,600. If you love the image and the size suits the space you want to fill, buying the limited edition can give you a lovely cost effective investment.  As only a small number of works are produced, prints are still collectors’ items for sought-after artists, as the laws of supply and demand continue to operate and enhance the value over time.

Prints are not a new medium. In fact, they date back to the 15th Century when engravings were used by goldsmiths to decorate metalwork – think of the wonderful engravings in old books and found loose in antique shops and the likes of Dürer with his studies on perspective. Then think Renoir, Chagall and Miro and the classic etchings and lithographs produced during their lifetime and often copied (be aware) long after their deaths.

Prints enable artists to sell their art to more people and capture much wider interest than canvases alone. Value is one factor, however, printing artworks in editions has allowed many people to enjoy the same work at the same time, furthering an artist’s popularity and increasing their market. Inevitably this is our gain!

Of course, most artists try their hand at printmaking or make a career out of the print medium because they love the technique. There is a great deal of work involved in printmaking and the effects can be stunning. Etchings, screenprints and lithographs involve a hands-on approach with a professional printer, to etch into or draw the original image over a plate, which is then printed with multiple layers of different coloured inks.


Screenprints are also known as silkscreens, creating prints using a fabric stencilling technique. The ink colours are pushed separately through the mesh stencil onto the paper surface using a squeegee.

lin onusLin Onus
Garkman, 1991
Screenprint, edition 6/60
46.5 x 72 cm $3,300
david bromleyDavid Bromley
Screenprint, edition of 30
70.5 x 101 cm $1,100 (unframed)
Jasper KnightJasper Knight Palm Beach Wharf II, 2009
Screenprint, edition 23/50
86 x 64 cm $1,400



With etchings and engravings, the artist uses tools to cut into a metal plate covered with wax. This technique of ‘drawing with a knife’ allows for fine lines, details and contours. The plate is then immersed in an acid bath where only the etched lines are bitten into, allowing the ink to be drawn into the gaps and pushed onto the paper through the printing press. The lines can be light or dark and further tinting can create background texture.

charles blackmanCharles Blackman The Japanese Cat1994
Etching and aquatint, edition 35/35
60 x 44.5 cm $2,200
pierre renoirPierre Auguste Renoir The Bather circa 1910 Posthumous etching 17 x 11 cm (unframed) $250



Lithography is the opposite to etching, where the image is drawn with a waxy medium onto the surface of a plate, usually porous limestone. Acid is applied which leaves the image burned onto the surface and a gum then seals the remaining parts of the stone. Water adheres to the stone and the inks adhere to the wax, so only the image is inked and printed. Lithography captures variations in shade and tone as well as fine details.


The term collagraph comes from collage, indicating that the surface of the originating plate is textured using found materials. When the works are printed, these objects, which can be fabric, leaves, use your imagination) create interesting dents, lines and textures on the printed paper.

Arthur BoydArthur Boyd Pulpit Rock Landscape, 1994
Collagraph, edition 66/70
80 x 61 cm $2,400
Arthur boyd 2Arthur Boyd The Poet
Collagraph, edition 23/25
85 x 63 cm $2,400


Photography and Digital Prints

With the advent of photography, photographic art is also a collectable medium, early photos being one offs and recent photos being sold in small editions, much the same as other limited edition prints. Photography has also changed the nature of printmaking in itself, in that while the print process of etching and lithographs is an involved and time-consuming process, digital prints are high quality ink duplications, reproduced off the original image using high quality materials and sold again in small editions.  These can be referred to as offset lithographs, digital lithographs, giclee prints and archival pigments on paper, depending on the exact printing technique used.

As a simpler process is involved, the purchase prices tend to be lower, but it is the most modern way of allowing people who love your art to have access to their own images hanging on their walls.

Melinda Harper 1Melinda Harper  Untitled II 2009 Archival pigment print on artist’s paper, edition of 6570 x 65 cm (unframed) $850 melinda harper 2Melinda Harper Untitled I 2009 Archival pigment print on artist’s paper, edition of 6570 x 65 cm (unframed) $850


chagall 1Marc Chagall Lovers over the City Offset lithograph, edition of 30068 x 49 cm (unframed)Printed signature lower right $200 chagall 2Marc Chagall Couple Above Saint Paul Offset lithograph, edition of 30057 x 51 cm (unframed)Printed signature lower right $200 chagall 3Marc Chagall Les Soucis Offset lithograph, edition of 30069 x 49 cm (unframed)Printed signature lower right $200


john olsen 2John Olsen Wetlands 1985 Digital lithograph, edition of 6561.5 x 82 cm  (unframed)Signed lower right; numbered lower left $1,600 john olsen 3John Olsen Wetlands 2000 Digital lithograph, edition of 6566 x 82 cm  (unframed)Signed lower right; numbered lower left $1,600


So if you are stumbling to find an original gift that will give you and your family years of pleasure, think of an artwork!

Anna has a passion for all things visual. High on enthusiasm but low on technical ability, she turned her love of art into a thriving art dealership, helping fellow art enthusiasts purchase artworks for their collections, sell existing works and obtain up-to-date insurance valuations. She has a regular radio show on Eastside Radio 89.7 FM where she talks about all things art. Her services and available artworks are on her website:
Life Balance = Time-out. Friendship. Pleasure.