Ralph Garafola -  Artist / Educator


“Frank J. Reilly – The Elements of Painting” provides the principles and concepts relating to the craftsmanship involved in the graphic arts and helps students, painters, designers and art teachers develop their craft.

This book is the result of my many years of practical experience as an illustrator and fine artist. In these chapters you will learn your craft in a logical way; discover the language of art in order to communicate intelligently with other artists; gain understanding of color as hue, value and chroma; and develop the knowledge and technical skills to master your craft.

In his 29 years teaching, Reilly taught not by category, such as landscape, portraits of special subjects. Rather, he taught how to draw, how to paint and picture making. In his drawing classes he taught: line; pattern; structure; anatomy; drapery; and perspective. In painting he taught: light and shade and color; skills in brush handling, including hard and soft edges; indoor studio figures, portraits and still lifes; and outdoor figure painting, landscapes and seascapes. Picture making involved both drawing and painting and adding composition, which involved the arrangement of abstract elements to tell a story.

This book captures Reilly’s teachings. In applying what you learn here you will develop your own style and better express your ideas – naturally, without copying the styles of other artists or teachers. Because skills always lag learning, there may be times when you feel discouraged with your results and ability. That is the time to look at your greatest works, as only then will you realize how much you have improved.

To succeed in the realm of graphic arts, like dancing and playing music, one must acquire knowledge. An artist only sees what he or she knows. When you learn to analyze what you intend to draw or paint, you start to see as an artist. After reading “Frank J. Reilly – The Elements of Painting “I believe you will become capable of seeing your subject more clearly and, with dedication, practice and hard work, you will develop your full potential.

Ralph Garafola, Artist/Educator and
Author of “Frank J. Reilly – The Elements of Painting”




Frank J. Reilly


This book is dedicated with fond memories to Frank J. Reilly, an American painter, illustrator, muralist and teacher. Born on August 21, 1906, in New York City, he died of brain cancer on January 15, 1967. Reilly studied at the Art Students League of New York from 1927 through 1931, where his teachers were George B. Bridgeman and Frank Vincent DuMond.

Reilly held the positions of Art Commissioner of New York City, President of the Council of American Artists Societies, Vice President of the National Society of Mural Painters and Vice President of the Art Students League. He also was a member of the National Academy of Design, Allied Artist, Society of Illustrators, American Artist Professional League and the Salmagundi Art Club.

Reilly was best known for his 29 years teaching drawing and painting at the Art Students League. By 1960 he was teaching more than 300 students in morning, afternoon and evening classes. He also taught at the Grand Central School of Art, Pratt Institute and Moore College of Art & Design, as well as mural painting at the National Academy of Design. Reilly’s lectures were so popular that the Wednesday night series at the League was standing room only.

Reilly taught because he loved to and his extensive knowledge of art and its craft is why he taught so well. The famous artist, illustrator and muralist Dean Cornwell once said, “Frank Reilly could teach anyone to draw and paint provided, of course, you wanted to paint.”

Reilly opened The Frank J. Reilly School of Art in Manhattan in 1961, with the loyal support of his students. He was married with no children and considered his students family. He was my mentor and a father-figure to me and I have as much respect for him now as I did when I was his student in the 1950s and ’60s.

Ralph Garafola, Author/Artist/Educator




Frank J. Reilly books - table of content


Chapter 1 – Color Theory 1
Dimensions of Color
Language of Color
Chroma and Value Chart
Neutral Values
Color Chart
Chapter 2 – Light and Shade 19
Light Source
Four Types of Lighting
Painting Halftones
Reflected Light
Transmitted Light
Chapter 3 – Painting 71
Three Ways of Applying Paint
How We See
Painting Procedures
Painting Maximum Form
The Effect
Progressions and Gradation
Anatomy of Drapery
Still Life Painting
Chapter 4 – Painting Edges 114
Hard and Soft Edges
Chapter 5 – Painting the Head 117
Basic Structure of Features
Forms and Planes of the Head
Painting the Portrait
Chapter 6 – Painting the Model 157
The Complexion
Painting Flesh Tones
Indoor Palette
Modeling Factors
Finishing the Painting
Wash-in Monochrome Underpainting
Painting Model Outdoors
Lay-in Massing of Color
Chapter 7 – Painting Glossy Surfaces 187
Transparent and Translucent Surfaces
Refraction of Light
Chapter 8 – Colored Lights 191
Colored Lights
Directions of Light
Color Vibration
Painting Mediums
Picture Making
Elements of Art
Black and White Abstractions
Color Abstractions
Color Planning
Painting Glossary 220
Painting Glossary