A look behind the scenes and techniques at Tony Lilley's art studio
See also my Experimental Art page.

My paintings are signed in two different ways


My signature can be one of two styles as you can see above.
I started doing this in October 2016.
I've done this to make the signature look better in different paintings.

My name and the painting title is always on the back of each painting.
I also have an authenticity stamp on the back of each painting these days.

How I often start a painting

I sometimes wake up in the morning with a picture in my mind or something sparks off the idea for a painting. With both of these origins I start to develop the picture, in my mind and as a sketch on paper. After more sketching to add or remove things from the scene or move them I research anything in the scene I'm not quite sure about. This might be how people look, their clothing, pose and light cast on them. Objects in the scene, buildings, trees or anything else I'm not sure about how it looks in real life. I will then draw the picture using all the information I have but this might also be changed to make things look more quirky and maybe more interesting than they would be. Of course some of my paintings have things that don't exist at all !

32 inch wide painting in progress
32 inch wide painting in progress

I then sometimes, but not always, enlarge this final drawing to the support size so I can use it to transfer the drawing outline to the support. I then rub charcoal over the rear side of this outline drawing. Note: The support is the canvas or board I use. The 32 inch wide painting on canvas had the outline of objects first lightly drawn in with a brush using thin blue paint.

The boards I most use are MDF board, cut, sealed and primed with acrylic gesso, by me, to ensure a support exactly the way I want it to be.

Then after carefully taping the drawing over the blank support, I draw over the main outlines with an orange pencil. Orange lets me see where I've already drawn over. This process then transfers the charcoal from the drawing to the support. You have to be careful not to rest your hand on the drawing as this might transfer charcoal as well ! It can be messy. I sometimes use a graphite transfer paper instead of charcoal which is slightly less messy.

Once the drawing is transferred I then get some masking tape and use it as a sticky pad to lightly remove any excess charcoal or graphite.
Loose charcoal or graphite can smear the image and get mixed up with the paint making a muddy looking mix.
After this I very often give the support an overall thin coat of acrylic paint. The colour depends on how I want the final painting to look.

Mixed-Media Artwork

My way, at the moment of starting a mixed media painting is to give the board 2 coats of gesso primer. Then when it's dry I start putting on a very loose wash of paint starting with the sky at the top and then other colours to suit, below. When this is dry I start to stick paper collage in all shapes, content, colour and sizes all over the support. Some are partly cut, others are torn. I use acrylic medium to do the sticking and then paint more over the top. When this is dry I start to paint the scene and also to add more pieces of collage. I do this throughout the process until the painting is finished. Quite often most of the collage is covered with paint and adds to the painting surface texture.
I might also use acrylic ink and sometimes use a Japanese Manga dip pen to make outlines.

Other mediums I use are Inktense pencils and pastels, both soft and oil types.

Reference Photos used for Mixed-Media artworks


The reference photos used for Mixed-Media artwork under
Creative Commons Licence 2.0 were for:
Hattie Tom (who was an Apache North American Indian 1899): Photo by Rinehart, F. A. (Frank A.)
Chinese Woman: (a Chinese Putzehei woman): Photo by Anja Disseldorp
Elizabeth Taylor: (circa 1953) Photo by Hulton Archive from Raoul Luoar on Flickr

Looking after brushes while your painting in acrylics.

Stay wet brush pot
Here's the way I look after my brushes while painting. At the end of the day I wash them thoroughly with soap and water. These aluminium pots with springs are called Brush Washers. They are very cheap to buy and work very well at keeping the brush bristles wet during the day while painting. After using a brush to apply paint. Clean the brush in the normal water pot and then just push the brush handle into the spring with only the bristles under the water.
This stops the brush drying out and any residual paint setting and also stops the water getting into the handle which makes it swell up and the paint drop off. I've had this happen in the past and it can also the brush ferrule loose which is really annoying !

Transferring drawing to board with charcoal

Transferring drawing

Here's a photo I took at the transfer stage of the new Long journey 3 painting. The original drawing is on A3 cartridge paper. I scanned this into my computer and then enlarged it to full painting size, 24 X 15 inches. I then printed lots of sections of it on A4 sheets. Then cutting the sheets to match each other (like a big jigsaw puzzle) I taped them together. I laid the made up full size printout over the Gesso primed board and line it up, creasing it around the edges to make lining up again easier. Then I used a charcoal block to rub charcoal all over the back of the printout. I very carefully positioned it over the primed board and taped it down to the table so it can't move. Then with a colour pencil I drew over the printout along all the major lines. This transfers charcoal from the printout to the primed board. The photo shows the transferred charcoal image on the primed board and you can also see the back of the printout covered with charcoal. At this stage it's ready to start the painting.

My old Trad-Digital paintings
Paintings made by drawing the picture in pencil on paper.
Then scanning it into a computer and painting it in Photoshop with a Wacom Graphics Tablet.
The final artwork is then printed onto archival paper using a Giclee printer.

You can see my earlier Trad-Digital paintings on Pinterest. Click here.


Drawings and Sketches

Like most artists, I make drawings and sketches of anything that helps develop my paintings.
Here are a few drawings/sketches I've made. These can be in my Sketchbook or on anything that comes to hand.
You can see many more on my Pinterest drawings page by clicking here.

Girl on a Bike
Girl on a Bike

Windy Rainy Day - colour sketch
Windy Rainy Day - colour sketch

1920's Woman exp
1920's Woman exp

Pompeii and Isabella
Pompeii and Isabella

Empty boat on a rolling sea
Empty boat on a rolling sea

April Showers
April Showers