Tim Reilly – Creating Lifelike Stone Textures

I got here throughout the work of Tim Reilly whereas I used to be working as Editor for Pastel At this time (I retired in February). His piece Legacy gained an Honourable Point out within the PleinAirSalon October 2022 competitors. I cherished the simplicity of the piece and the best way he elevated this atypical object – a home portray brush – to pedestal standing. Together with the best way he offers us the feeling of bristle hairs, worn steel, a chipped wood deal with, I used to be mesmerised by the best way he created the sensation of the stone wall behind the comb. How had he achieved that utilizing tender pastels??

My curiosity led me to ask the artist if he’d be prepared to share his secret with HowToPastel readers. And ohhhhh, yay, he stated sure!! I’m delighted to introduce you to Tim Reilly!

Earlier than I do this, take a look at his successful portray:

Tim Reilly, Legacy, 2009, pastel on Crescent Illustration board, 24 1/2 x 28 1/8 in
Tim Reilly, Legacy, 2009, pastel on Crescent Illustration board, 24 1/2 x 28 1/8 in

And now, a wee bit concerning the artist.

Tim Reilly Bio

B.F.A. Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY

Courses with Milton Glazer, James McMullan at The College of Visible Arts, New York, NY

Retired Inventive Director and Graphic Designer (ABC Tv, Tutorial Tv, Promoting Companies, Company Design Departments)

You’ll be able to observe Tim Reilly on Instagram and Facebook.

Tim Reilly, "Macaron Parisien," 2022, pastel on La Carte paper, 15 1/4 x 18 3/4 in. Sold.
Tim Reilly, “Macaron Parisien,” 2022, pastel on La Carte paper, 15 1/4 x 18 3/4 in. Offered.

Okay, let’s get on with the present!! Right here’s Tim to share his data and artwork journey with you.


My curiosity in drawing began at a really early age. I used to be given a number of bins of crayons as a baby and wasted no time colouring the animals and parade wagons of the circus-patterned wallpaper which lined the partitions of my room.

Upon commencement from Pratt Institute, I started my profession in promoting, company design, and freelance illustration in New York. Quickly after, I bought a e book on working with pastels written by Daniel Greene, PASTEL- A Comprehensive Guide to Pastel Painting. I used to be hooked! I’ve admired Mr. Greene’s work for a few years and discovered a lot from his assortment of DVDs and printed books. Along with his unimaginable expertise, Daniel Greene was a really articulate, beneficiant, and efficient communicator whose contribution to the follow of the pastel medium is immeasurable. 

Tim Reilly, "Bubbles," 2022, pastel on La Carte paper, 11 x 14 in. Sold.
Tim Reilly, “Bubbles,” 2022, pastel on La Carte paper, 11 x 14 in. Offered.

I started studying and researching all I might to be taught extra about pastel portray strategies from books and articles printed on Albert Handell, Harvey Dinnerstein, Joe Singer, Edgar Degas, and illustrators Gary Kelley and Robert Heindel. 

Different influences embody: Andrew Hemmingway, Claudio Bravo, and Robert Vickrey. I’ve been fascinated by Vickrey’s approach for creating stone textures in egg tempera which I’ve tailored for the pastel medium and use in my very own work immediately. 

Tim Reilly, "Portrait of the Artist," 2009, pastel on Strathmore Illustration Board, 17 x 23 in. NFS
Tim Reilly, “Portrait of the Artist,” 2009, pastel on Strathmore Illustration Board, 17 x 23 in. NFS

I make use of a number of varieties of help for my pastel work. Often, the selection is determined by the picture that I intend to create. Pastelmat paper, La Carte and Crescent chilly press 310 professional-grade illustration board are among the many choices obtainable and readily available in studio inventory. Though Pastelmat paper accepts moist media, I desire to make use of a heavy illustration board when rendering the stone texture seen in my work. I discover that the heavy board is suited properly to just accept the a number of layers of pastel color spattered on the floor with alcohol, pastel pigment, and bristle brushes.

The method begins by stapling the sides of illustration board, round all sides, to a chunk of quarter-inch or eighth-inch plywood. I then scrub a really skinny wash of watercolour into the illustration board which raises the tooth of the highest layer of board and offers a greater floor upon which the layers of pastel are utilized. The added watercolour paint ensures that all the dwell space to be lined is seen whereas making use of water to the floor. Scrubbing too vigorously will elevate the highest layer of paper from the board, so care must be taken throughout this step to not apply an excessive amount of stress on the comb. 

Tim Reilly - Stapled then taped
Stapled then taped

When the wash dries, blue tape marks the boundaries of the dwell space to be painted including an additional one-eighth or one-quarter inch to all 4 borders of the illustration board. It will compensate for any miscalculated overlap of the ultimate image mat and insures that no uncovered areas stay after framing. The board is now ready for the preliminary drawing.

I make common pilgrimages to the grocery retailer for produce and to the native Flea Marketplace for attention-grabbing gadgets to incorporate in his work. After a strategy of trial and error is full, an association of chosen objects is ready up and photographed beneath quite a lot of lighting situations. 

Floral inexperienced styrofoam is painted a impartial gray and serves as a platform for the weather to be included within the composition or as a background to symbolize the areas of stone or concrete within the nonetheless life set-up.

Florist foam that has been painted
Florist foam that has been painted

I take dozens of images so I’ve many from which to decide on. Typically these photos are tweaked on the pc to reinforce saturation and light-weight and shadows or manipulated in Photoshop to reach at a delightful composition. The ultimate reference picture is then uploaded to my iPad. 

Subsequent, the preliminary drawing is finished on the board with a uncooked umber or burnt sienna pastel pencil. I work with Derwent, Carbothello, Faber-Castell and pencils from quite a lot of different producers. Some passages of the composition could also be underpainted with acrylic washes or left fully untouched to be lined solely with the alcohol pastel combination. 

Sections of the piece not supposed to indicate texture are masked off with tracing paper, vellum, newsprint or liquid frisket. Liquitex presents a rubbery product known as liquid masking fluid which is used to cowl the extra detailed or intricate areas of the drawing which can be too troublesome to chop round or cowl with masking tape or paper.

My “workhorse” pastel manufacturers are from Rembrandt and Nupastel units. I subscribe to the process of working softer sticks over tougher ones, working darkish areas to gentle. Different pastel units and particular person sticks complement these which make colors obtainable that aren’t current within the two units I exploit most steadily. Diane Townsend sticks are nice for the sandpaper grinding course of due to their dimension and form. Additionally, Townsend offers colours in the darkest of values which might’t be discovered in lots of different manufacturers. 

Diane Townsend soft pastel partially sanded
Diane Townsend tender pastel partially sanded

To organize and “liquify” the pastel for the spattering methodology, I grind the suitable pastel color sticks on very coarse 60 grit sandpaper. Typically colors are combined to create heat and funky complementary greys which approximate the color of concrete or a selected color of stone. The pastel “mud” is then poured right into a small paper cup. Isopropyl alcohol is added to the pigment with an eye fixed dropper and combined with a wood craft follow create a skinny wash. There appears to be sufficient gum arabic binder remaining within the combination to completely adhere the alcohol/ pastel wash to the board. 

Utilizing previous bristle oil portray brushes or very cheap “throw away” stiff bristle brushes discovered at any craft retailer, I then fastidiously apply the combination in layers on the board. I layer heat and funky greys of comparable values, one over one other, within the preliminary utility. This creates a basis for the ultimate desired stone-like impact. 

Brushes and Isopropyl Alcohol
Brushes and Isopropyl Alcohol

Darker and lighter values and color are then added to the bottom layers after a basis of gray undercolour has been accomplished. 

Brushes of various sizes and the space a brush is held from the portray floor decide the dimensions of the spatter on the painted space. When bigger spattered spots are wanted I would use a big brush with longer bristles held additional away from the illustration board. If a finer spatter sample is desired, I exploit a brush with a a lot smaller bristle held nearer to the paintings. 

Pulling again on one small part of the comb’s bristles leads to a finer spray of texture on the board. This course of is repeated again and again. 

Often I’ll dip a sponge into the combination and faucet a texture onto the board. Generally “comfortable accidents” happen and a drip or splash of color which isn’t in a typical “speckled” form will land on the board. It will create a little bit of selection on bigger areas, breaking apart the house and including visible curiosity to the feel. These splashes can simply be lined up with one other layer of spatter or left as is. As many as ten to fifteen very skinny layers of liquid pastel, alternating heat and funky, very gentle to very darkish functions of color, are utilized until the correct quantity of contrasting values is prepared for the subsequent step within the course of. 

Tim Reilly - texture in soft pastel!
Tim Reilly – texture in tender pastel!
Tim Reilly - texture in soft pastel!
Extra texture examples

The ultimate stage of rendering a stone texture utilizing my pastel methodology is working into the spattered space. For me, that is probably the most satisfying but additionally probably the most tedious a part of your complete train. This stage of the method might take extra time than all the remaining relying on simply how detailed I would really like this texture to be.  

Tim Reilly, "White Rose," 2009, pastel on La Carte paper, 11 x 11 in. Sold.
Tim Reilly, “White Rose,” 2009, pastel on La Carte paper, 11 x 11 in. Offered.

The final step within the course of requires the flexibility to take a look at the painted space and visualize/think about the non-existent dings, crevices, and natural imperfections within the stone floor. I emphasize what’s there or invent cracks in sure areas of the portray to make the rendered texture plausible and as actual as doable to the viewers. I discover it useful to aim to “unfocus” my eyes to the diploma that sure sections current themselves as locations to work into and improve. 

It’s vital to concentrate on the course the sunshine is falling on the nonetheless life arrange so as to add corresponding darkish pitted areas or holes with highlighted edges and cracks in step with the remainder of the opposite components within the piece.

Distressing the floral styrofoam by pushing nail holes or dents or dropping the styrofoam on the ground provides dings and put on to realize the specified finish results of a stone-like texture. Doing this earlier than taking pictures the reference photographs creates curiosity in an in any other case flat discipline of spattered color.

Tim Reilly, Pink Tulip, 2009, pastel on Crescent Illustration Board, 11 x 11 in. Available.
Tim Reilly, “Pink Tulip,” 2009, pastel on Crescent Illustration Board, 11 x 11 in. Out there

I proceed to seek for artistic methods so as to add quite a lot of textures to the rendering course of. 

Clearly, as with most inventive actions, expertise, practise, and a bit perseverance experimenting with any medium or approach will ultimately yield the specified impact.

Tim Reilly, "Persephone," 2010, pastel on Strathmore Illustration Board, 20 in diameter. Available.
Tim Reilly, “Persephone,” 2010, pastel on Strathmore Illustration Board, 20 in diameter. Out there.


Soooooo, are you as impressed by Tim’s means to create texture, particularly stone and concrete texture, as I’m?? And, are you going to offer it a strive? I’d like to know!

If in case you have questions and responses for Tim, please do go away them as a remark.

Till subsequent time,

~ Gail

PS. Tim Reilly additionally gained the December PleinAir Salon Award for Artist over 65 for “Wanda the Marvel Rooster” (love that piece!) and I wrote concerning the piece and extra on Pastel Today.