Scott Reilly

Written by: Kalsang Nangpa and Liz Tavares

Scott Reilly is a well-distinguished painter originally from Oakland, California. He recently moved to Holyoke, Massachusetts, and now both works in and rents out studio space in the Wauregan Building. Though Scott is a novelist, furniture-maker, and painter among many other things, his current interest mainly lies in encaustics.

In the early stages of his career, Scott pursued writing as a profession but faced many challenges in getting his short stories published. Fortunately, at the age of 25, Scott learned how to paint from his cousin and eventually discovered the art of encaustics. Looking at Scott’s amazing works of art, it may be hard to believe but he actually never had any formal lessons on painting prior to age 25. Scott’s limited background in art never stopped him from pursuing his passion and only motivated him to work harder. Everyday, Scott spent about 8-10 hours in his studio working and exploring this unique form of art. The dedication and perseverance finally paid off when a designer in the Bay Area discovered him and got him into the commercial art sales. Scott’s works are currently featured in various restaurants and hotels along the West Coast, including Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. In addition to exhibitions and corporate commissions, Scott’s work has also been published in Embracing Encaustics, a book by Linda Robertson.

Most of Scott’s clients are from the West Coast states including California, Oregon and Colorado. Scott is slowly working into New York with plans to expand to the East Coast. Scott enjoys making commercial work and takes his job as a painter very seriously as it allows him to pursue his passion as a career.

Some of Scott’s paintings displayed at Caylan’s Restaurant (left) and Caesar Palace Spa Room (right).


In Scott’s most recent pieces, he works with an age-old technique known as encaustic painting. This approach generally involves heated wax mixed with color pigments. The liquid wax is applied to a surface and manipulated with various tools. Encaustics is often done on wooden or canvas surfaces, but Scott has developed a unique method for applying wax to handmade plexiglass boxes. This allows him to illuminate the paintings from behind with fluorescent lights, providing a modern, vibrant, and unexpected twist on this ancient artform. Scott explains he enjoys encaustics because working with wax is both forgiving and permanent. The wax can be reheated and manipulated again and again, and when the piece is complete, it will remain well-preserved so long as it is not exposed to excessive sunlight.

Although Scott sometimes displays his work in art galleries, most of his paintings can be found in commercial locations such as restaurants and hotels. One of his pieces (pictured below) hangs behind the V.I.P. check-in desk at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. This painting demonstrates Scott’s collaboration with his customers; the clients for this particular piece requested a painting that represented the sun. Scott enjoys customizing his work for clients and often takes input on color, size, and location.

V.I.P. Check In Desk at Caesar’s Palace Casino

V.I.P. Check In Desk at Caesar’s Palace Casino. Image Source:

Scott’s current encaustic work is a unique blend of personal inspirations and acquired craftsmanship. Much of Scott’s work is inspired by architecture and repetitive geometric forms. He is also heavily influenced by many mid-century painters, including Rothko, Pollock and Warhol. He likes incorporating patterns, chaos, and randomness into his work, always beginning his piece with a specific feeling he wishes to evoke. His experience with furniture making has allowed him to develop his original technique; for each new painting, he constructs his own wooden frame box to place the plexiglass on. What Scott loves most about his paintings is the physicality his work requires. His clients enjoy these pieces because they incorporate an original combination of encaustics, woodworking, and illumination that cannot be found anywhere else.


Scott’s work featured at Aspect Gallery, San Franciso

Scott’s work featured at Aspect Gallery, San Francisco. Image Source:

Finding Success

Scott strongly believes anyone can succeed at anything if they are willing to put enough time into learning and always treat their work as a job rather than a hobby. With no prior professional training, Scott has become a successful painter because of the dedication and seriousness he puts into his work. In the beginning, he practiced painting upwards of eight hours each and every day. He says the key to his success has been treating his artwork as a job rather than a hobby; his work is not considered complete to him unless it has been sold.

Like most artists, Scott admits to experiencing ‘painter’s blocks’ every now and then. Although this may be a common reality, he has developed some techniques for combating such issues. Sometimes Scott will hang an unfinished piece of work on his wall for a few days in a place he sees often, until he can pinpoint why the painting still feels unfinished to him. He will then rework the painting and rehang the piece. This cycle can continue for multiple rounds until the painting feels finished. If a piece is not selling, Scott puts the burden on himself, accepting full responsibility and re-working the piece until it is sellable. In extreme cases, where Scott is unable to begin a piece due to lack of inspiration, he will take a break by making furniture, writing, or constructing wooden frame boxes. In this way, Scott remains productive even through difficult times.

Involvement in the Holyoke Community

Scott first visited Holyoke when his friend and business partner bought a building in town. During his visit, Scott fell in love with Holyoke because he saw it as the “untapped Brooklyn of Western Massachusetts”. Scott immediately saw the same potential in Holyoke for rejuvenation. He also discovered The Wauregan Building during his visit and decided to buy it since it was cheap and had vast space that he could use as his studio.

From what Scott has seen in Holyoke and what he has heard about its rich art history, he believes that Holyoke will be an amazing place once again. Having lived in Brooklyn and Los Angeles, he has watched the areas completely change over the course of years and believes that Holyoke will do the same especially with the current efforts to revitalize this town.

Scott is also taking part in helping art to thrive in Holyoke again by making space for artists in the community. He purposely rents out his buildings to professional artists who he believes will take their art seriously and also bring something valuable to the community. Scott is eager to see Holyoke evolve and become a prosperous city once again.

Scott’s studio in Holyoke, MA.

Future Plans

Since people in Holyoke often only know Scott as a building owner, he would like to someday be known as an artist in this city and other cities in the East Coast region. Scott has plans to eventually expand his clientele to the East Coast, since most of his work is currently only available on the West Coast. Scott recently picked up writing again and hopes to continue; he is currently writing a novel and aspires to have it published once it is complete.

Scott Reilly

Commercial Painter | Furniture Maker | Writer

420 Dwight St. Holyoke, MA

Contact Info:

(413) 505-9290