An iconic, biomorphic fantasy from an incised linoleum block.
Animus, 1977

Inkless Iinoleum block embossment, 8" x 8" (id#60)


Limited edition of 75 signed and numbered impressions made by the artist, including both inkless embossments and ink-on-artist's-paper impressions.

An iconic, biomorphic fantasy from an incised linoleum block.
Organism, 1977

Inkless Iinoleum block embossment, 6" x 6" (id#62)


Limited edition of 75 signed and numbered impressions made by the artist, including both inkless embossments and ink-on-artist's-paper impressions.

An iconic, totemic, biomorphic fantasy from an incised linoleum block.
Animus, 1984

Cast paper pulp print, 8" x 8" (id#64)


Artist's proof, a unique impression made by the artist in cast paper.

An iconic, totemic, biomorphic fantasy from an incised linoleum block.
Genetrix, 1984

Cast paper pulp print, 8" x 10" (id#63)


Artist's proof, a unique impression made by the artist in cast paper.

An iconic, biomorphic fantasy from an incised linoleum block.
Genetrix, 1977

Inkless Iinoleum block embossment, 10" x 8" (id#59)


Limited edition of 75 signed and numbered inkless embossments made by the artist.

An iconic, totemic, biomorphic fantasy from an incised linoleum block.
Clear Light, 1984


Cast paper pulp print, 8" x 6" (id#65)


Artist's proof, a unique impression made by the artist in cast paper.

A lakeside mountain landscape fantasy from an incised linoleum block.
Landscape with Eye of God, 1984

Plaster impression, 6" x 8" (id#66)


Artist's proof, a unique impression made by the artist.

A biomorphic, totemic, iconic cellular fantasy etched in zinc.
Spore, 1977

Etching, 3" x 2 7/8" (id#805)


Artist's proof, a unique impression made by the artist.  However, a few inkless embossments of this plate exist, for which no edition has been established.

Three rondels of landscape and fantasy etched in zinc.
River-Sun-Mountain, 1977

Etchings, three rondels, each 3" diameter (id#55)


Artist's proof, a unique impression made by the artist.  However, a few inkless embossments of these plates exist, for which no edition has been established.

An iconic fantasy of a lakeside mountain range etched in zinc.
Mountains, 1977

Etching, 3" diameter, (id#55c)


Artist's proof, a unique impression made by the artist. However, a few inkless embossments of this plate exist, for which no edition has been established.

A biomorphic, totemic, iconic fantasy of a river landscape etched in zinc.
River, 1977

Etching, 3" diameter, (id#55a)


Artist's proof, a unique impression made by the artist. However, a few inkless embossments of this plate exist, for which no edition has been established.

A biomorphic, totemic, iconic fantasy of the sun etched in zinc.
Sun, 1977

Etching, 3" diameter, (id#55b)


Artist's proof, a unique impression made by the artist. However, a few inkless embossments of this plate exist, for which no edition has been established.

An iconic, biomorphic fantasy from an incised linoleum block.
Cell, 1977

Inkless embossment from etching, 4 1/2" x 4 1/2" (id#52)


Limited edition of 75 signed and numbered impressions made by the artist, including both inkless embossments and ink-on-artist's-paper impressions.

An iconic, biomorphic fantasy from an etched zinc plate.
White Hole, 1977

Inkless embossment from etching, 5 1/2" x 5 1/2" (id#54)


Limited edition of 75 signed and numbered impressions made by the artist, including both inkless embossments and ink-on-artist's-paper impressions.

An iconic, biomorphic fantasy from an incised linoleum block.
Illumination, 1977

Inkless embossment from etching, 4 1/2" x 4 1/2" (id#53)


Limited edition of 75 signed and numbered impressions made by the artist, including both inkless embossments and ink-on-artist's-paper impressions.

An iconic, biomorphic fantasy from an etched zinc plate.
Cell, 1977

Inkless embossment from etching, 4 1/2" x 4 1/2" (id#52)


Limited edition of 75 signed and numbered impressions made by the artist, including both inkless embossments and ink-on-artist's-paper impressions.

An iconic, totemic, biomorphic fantasy from an incised linoleum block.
Genetrix, 1978

Linoleum block print, 10" x 8" (id#58)


Limited edition of 75 signed and numbered ink-on-artist's-paper impressions made by the artist..

A lakeside mountain landscape fantasy from an incised linoleum block.
Landscape with Eye of God, 1984

Linoleum block print, 6" x 8" (id#66)


Artist's proof, a unique impression made by the artist.  No edition established.

A mandala created by photoelaboration of a motif borrowed from the League for Spiritual Discovery.
Mandala for Dr. Tim, 2003

Digital Photoelaboration, 18.5 x 18.5 cm. @300ppi (id#809)

Based on the very simple mandala of the League for Spiritual Discovery, consisting of intersecting infinity signs in a circle, the motif repeated and reduced many times to fill in the empty spaces.



Printmaking:  Working Towards Invisibility


Works from the 1970s and 1980s, with one exception. Working with linoleum blocks and etched zinc plates, I made inkless embossments, block prints, castings in paper pulp or plaster, and conventional prints from inked etching plates. I was working with intricate detail, and wanted to get the effect of near-invisibility, of a design that reveals itself only up close. 


In linoleum block printing, you start with a piece of linoleum (softer and thicker than the kind used for flooring) that has been mounted on a wooden block, and you cut a design into it using cutting tools made for the purpose.  The surface of the block is inked with a rubber roller, then printed on paper.  (Examples of this are "Genetrix, 1978, Linoleum block print", in this case a thin white ink was used to print on a light blue paper, and "Landscape with Eye of God", made with black ink on white paper.)


With etching, you coat a zinc or copper plate with a resist (a waxy medium), which dries and can then be incised with a stylus or other tool (I used either a dull pencil or a dried-out ballpoint pen with a soft tip, which don't make scratches in the plate).  The plate is then etched in acid, which eats grooves in the surface of the plate where exposed, and leaves unaffected the part still concealed by the resist.  The resist is removed with a solvent, and the plate is inked, making sure to work ink into all the grooves.  The surface of the plate is polished clean with gauze or a rag, leaving ink only in the grooves.  The plate is printed on paper in a press, which forces the paper into the inked grooves to pick up the impression.  (Examples of this include "Spore, 1977", and the three rondels or roundels of "River-Sun-Mountain, 1977".)


Besides using these usual methods of printing, I made inkless embossments from the blocks and plates.  Thus I was able to combine the intricacy of the design with the subtlety of a mere relief impression.  Such an image can hardly even be made out except from inches away.  The design is very busy, even intense, but the inkless impression attenuates the effect.  This changes the experience of viewing the image - instead of reading it for its design, we are confronted with something that is hard to read in this way, and which forces us to confront it in its physicality - we notice the texture of the paper almost as much as we notice the design.  The encounter with an image tends to remain conceptual - in your head - but the encounter with a material thing is more physical, more instinctual.  The smallness of the work reinforces this tendency, compelling us as it does to get close.


With either the plates or the blocks, inkless embossments require that the paper be well-soaked in water to soften it prior to printing, and that considerable pressure be used  in the printing press.  Aside from the special appeal of this sort of imagery, an advantage for the artist is that making inkless embossments is much faster and less messy than printing with ink.


Besides these, I made a few examples of a variant of the inkless effect - relief impressions, or casts, made with paper pulp or plaster.  (There are three examples here of the impressions taken with paper pulp, and one taken with plaster.  They are distinguished by the build-up of material around the edges, while the inkless embossments have soft edges.)  These are much more time-consuming than simple inkless embossments, as the paper pulp (or plaster) must be prepared, the block must be positioned in a close-fitting frame of the same thickness as the block (to allow the use of a rolling pin to expel the water and press the pulp into the incised areas of the block), and time must be allowed for the piece to dry so it can be removed from the block.  A good bit of work, but the effect is very fine.


I've always liked the idea that you can have considerable variety within an edition, that is, diverse interpretations of a motif, by varying the choice of ink and paper, combining the two to create different harmonies of line and background, or of positive and negative space.  One possibility is to strive for invisibility, where figure and ground almost match.  I made block prints in combinations of white on white, black on black, white ink on pastel shades of paper, and so on.  The natural conclusion to this evolution was the inkless embossment.  This development also parallels the way my paintings evolved at this time, from a palette of very vivid colors to one much more subdued.  This was the result of allowing my eye to exert control over and refine design ideas that originated in my imagination, which hadn't yet benefited from the feedback of what I made with my hands. 


The last item, Mandala for Dr. Tim, is relatively recent, but is here for its affinity to the earlier work.  Starting from a scan of an emblem found printed on the page of a book, I used the computer to duplicate the motif many times, reducing it to fit within its own spaces.  Thus it has the intricacy that I love, with the fractal-like quality of the same form repeated at many levels within the form, forming itself.  (You got that, or is it too Heidegger for you?)  Though not made by hand, the degree of work with the computer begins to make it comparable to very fine hand work; the print even has a tactile quality that most computer-made art lacks.


For additional commentary, see the essays and artist's statements that regard this work: "Mandalas by Allen Schill - a brief statement and a long essay", and "Artist's Statement for the Nicholas Roerich Museum Exhibition"


Allen Schill


© 2014 Allen Schill.  All rights reserved.  No part of this document may be reproduced or used without prior written permission from the author. Anyone is welcome to link to it, or to quote brief passages, but I would like to be notified.



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