Francis Sills


About the Artist:

Francis Sills was born in 1974 and raised in central New Jersey. Exposed to the wonders of the natural world at an early age through hiking and fishing, his childhood was spent drawing and constructing things out of cardboard. Both his grandfathers were good with their hands; one as a watercolorist, the other with carpentry and building. In high school, he was exposed to new techniques and became aware of the masterpieces from Art History. Art became a magical world of possibility, a place where one could create an illusion of reality.

In 1996, Sills received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree (in Painting) from Syracuse University. While he was there, he had the good fortune to study under the renowned figurative artist, Jerome Witkin, who shaped his devotion to the practice and craft of painting. Trained in the work of the Old Masters, students were taught to draw from life, and in particular the model. What Witkin offered was an example of a life dedicated to the serious pursuit of painting, shaped by one’s own experiences and personal narrative.

After graduating from Syracuse, Sills moved to New York City, and settled in Brooklyn, where he continued to hone his skills with paint. “Day jobs” included: mixing colors for a wallpaper company, creating faux finishes on furniture and lighting fixtures, working with decorative plaster finishes, and painting murals.

In 2001 Sills received his Master of Fine Arts degree from Parsons School of Design. While there, he experimented with different styles including collage, drawing installations and gestural abstractions. This work generated new ways of expression and allowed for a fresher, loosened handling of paint. After Parsons, however, the pull back to perceptual painting became too strong to deny; Sills’ heart was in realism and capturing the reflection of reality within the confines of the canvas.

Gradually Sills’ work became increasingly focused on the genre of landscape, and in particular, the urban and industrial scenes that surrounded his studio in the Gowanus area of Brooklyn. Finding beauty in the decay of post-industrial Brooklyn offered endless possibilities in form, surface and light. By working from observation, his painting began to take on the specificities of time and place.

In May of 2011, after nearly 15 years in New York, Sills relocated to Charleston, South Carolina. Since then he has generated a completely new body of work while exploring the Lowcountry and the amazing beauty that Charleston and its surrounding areas have to offer. In addition to painting, Francis is an adjunct faculty member at the College of Charleston where he teaches drawing. Sills has exhibited both nationally and internationally, and his work is in many private collections. He lives with his wife, Faith, also an artist, and their three children in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina.

2018 “DRAWN (V)” Manifest Gallery; Cincinnati, OH
2018 “Drawing from Perception VIII” (juror Catherine Kehoe)
2018 Robert and Elaine Stein Galleries, Wright State University; Dayton, OH
2017 “Life, Observed”, Kenise Barnes Fine Art; Parchment, NY
2017 “Francis Sills: Recent Work”, Horton Hayes Fine Art; Charleston, SC (*solo)
2017 Blue Mountain: Small Works Invitational, Blue Mountain Gallery; New York, NY
2017 “Fight or Flight”, The Painting Center; New York, NY
2017 “Honoring the Legacy of David Park” at Santa Clara University; Santa Clara, CA
2017 “Homage” Vendue Hotel Gallery; Charleston, SC
2016 “Root to Bloom”, Principle Gallery; Alexandria, VA
2016 “Flower Power”, Kenise Barnes Fine Art; Larchmont, NY
2016 “Twelve”, Robert Lange Studios; Charleston, SC
2016 “Luminous”, Kenise Barnes Fine Art; Larchmont, NY
2016 Small Works on Paper: Blue Mountain Gallery; New York, NY
2015 ”Passages” Horton Hayes Fine Art; Charleston, SC
2015 “A Feast of Planes” Andrews Gallery, College of William and Mary; Williamsburg, VA
2015 Blue Mountain: Small Works Invitational, Blue Mountain Gallery; New York, NY
2015 Artfields; Lake City, SC
2015 “I See a Pattern” Vendue Hotel Gallery; Charleston, SC
2014 “Atmosphere” Horton Hayes Fine Art; Charleston, SC
2014 Painting Alumni Retrospective, Syracuse University’s 914 Gallery; Syracuse, NY
2014 “Cool and Collected”, Kenise Barnes Fine Art; Larchmont, NY
2014 First Street Gallery’s National Juried Exhibition; New York, NY (juror Jed Perl)
2014 Artfields; Lake City, SC
2013 Blue Mountain Gallery Juried Exhibition; New York, NY
2013 “Water”, Horton Hayes Fine Art; Charleston, SC
2013 “Wood, Stone, Sky and Steel”, Jericho Advisors; Charleston, SC (*solo)
2013 “Evolution”, Robert Lange Studios; Charleston, SC
2012 “Tree Hugger”, Kenise Barnes Fine Art; Larchmont, NY
2012 “Everything Changes”, Robert Lange Studios; Charleston, SC
2011 Greenwich Design Showhouse, Greenwich, CT
2011 Bowery Gallery National Competition (juror-Stanley Lewis); New York, NY
2011 Kenise Barnes Fine Art (the Project Room); Larchmont, NY
2011 EverGreene: the Artists and their Art; New York, NY
2011 Academy of Fine Arts Annual National Juried Exhibition; Lynchburg, VA
2011 Brooklyn Creative League; Brooklyn, NY (* solo)
2011 “Positively 9 th Street”, Object Image Gallery; Brooklyn, NY
2010 “Faces Unveiled”, Redeemer Center for Faith and Work, New York, NY
2010 “Brooklyn Light”, Solis Modernist Homes; Brooklyn, NY
Juror’s Award. “The Contemporary Figure”
Rathbone Gallery, SAGE-JCA; Albany, NY 1997
Best in Show Award. Ridgefield Guild of Artists’ 19 th Annual Juried Exhibition;
Ridgefield, CT. 1996 (juror-Paul Cadmus, painter)
Studio Break podcast 2018: episode 192
“Color Lab for Mixed Media Artists”
by Deborah Forman, pg. 72-73, Quarto Publishing 2015
“A Matter of Perspective”
by Jana Riley, Palmetto Magazine Fall/Winter 2015
Cool and Collected, Kenise Barnes Fine Art, Wall Street International Magazine 7/14
Art Mag: Charleston, Summer 2013, pg. 16, 66
American Art Collector, March 2013, pg. 98
Charleston Scene, Post and Courier; February 28, 2013, E10
Studio Visit Magazine: Volume 18, 2012
“Characters of Gowanus”
by Sarah Portlock, The Brooklyn Ink, March 19, 2010
“A Changing Palette on the Waterfront”
by Cory Kilgannon, The New York Times, August 13, 2008
MFA: Parsons School of Design; New York, NY. 2001
BFA: Syracuse University; Syracuse, NY. 1996