|Photo of John Ennis by Kyle Cassidy|
Pennsylvanian portraitist John Ennis has recently been made custodian of a collection of documents rightfully considered to be a national art treasure. The nine boxes currently in his charge contain the hand-written teaching notes of Frank J. Reilly, one of the most influential American art teachers of the twentieth century. Though several institutions have expressed interest in the papers, they indicated that the thousands of pages of notes, should they even be kept intact, would be archived and not readily available to the public. Ennis, as a member of the Reilly lineage, decided it would be better to freely share these lessons rather than have them officially preserved, but locked away from posterity.
|Illustration by Frank Reilly|
Although Reilly was an eminent illustrator in his day, it was as a teacher that he was truly exemplary. The meticulous and logical approach to the craft of painting which Reilly conceived, was influenced by the teachings of the French Académie, and his curriculum proved its effectiveness with astounding consistency. Students who were able to gain entrance to his highly popular classes were often assured of a successful career, and the list of those pupils provides a veritable "Who's Who" of American art over the past six decades. Painters who benefitted from Reilly's tutelage directly, or through lessons passed down through his students, include James Bama, Clark Hulings, Robert Schulz, Gerald Allison, Ronnie Lesser, Jack Faragasso, Robert Maguire, Robert Berran, Leonard Starr, Ted Seth Jacobs, Michael Aviano, Apollo Dorian, Doug Higgins, Frank Covino, Morgan Weistling, Fred Fixler, John Asaro, Marvin Mattelson, Shawn Zents, Glen Orbik, Jeffrey Watts, Anthony Ryder, Jacob Collins, Michael Grimaldi, Graydon Parrish, Jeremy Lipking, and many, many more.
|"I can teach you the nuts and bolts, but I can't teach you to be creative. If you are creative,|
you will be able to put these nuts and bolts to work." - Frank J. Reilly
The Reilly Papers, Ennis' new blog, will focus on Frank Reilly's system of painting as outlined by the teacher himself. Alongside each hand-written tutorial posted, Ennis, who was mentored by Jerry Allison, and who was also a student of Schulz, Aviano, and Faragasso, will offer his own explanation of Reilly's notes to help illuminate the thoughts behind each lesson. This will offer a more direct analysis of Reilly's original method of painting, as it has been unavoidable that his progeny have all taught their own variations of the system based upon personal tastes and their own interpretations.
|A sample of Reilly's hand-written teaching notes|
Ennis is earnest in his desire to electronically share these documents with artists worldwide, but he knows the web log will be a time-consuming endeavor. He is afraid that his effort is selfish, and that these notes are of interest only to himself. If this is a project you would like to see him continue, then please visit The Reilly Papers, and show John Ennis your support.
The Reilly Papers
Frank Reilly: Revolutionary Teacher by Kent Steine (American Art Archives)
Frank Reilly "Could Teach a Wooden Indian to Paint" by Leif Peng
Leif Peng's Frank Reilly Flickr set
Frank Reilly on Wikipedia
Frank Vincent DuMond
Photographer Kyle Cassidy