Francis Sills

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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.

EXHIBITIONS

2013
“Wood, Stone, Sky and Steel”, Jericho Advisors, Charleston, SC (solo)
"Evolution”, Robert Lange Studios, Charleston, SC

2012
“Tree Hugger”, Kenise Barnes Fine Art, Larchmont, NY
“Everything Changes”, Robert Lange Studios, Charleston, SC

2011
Greenwich Design Showhouse, Greenwich, CT
Bowery Gallery National Competition (Juror: Stanley Lewis), New York, NY
Kenise Barnes Fine Art (The Project Room), Larchmont, NY
EverGreene: The Artists and their Art, New York, NY
Academy of Fine Arts Annual National Juried Exhibition; Lynchburg, VA
Brooklyn Creative League, Brooklyn, NY (solo)
“Positively 9th Street”, Object Image Gallery, Brooklyn, NY

2010
“Faces Unveiled”, Redeemer Center for Faith and Work, New York, NY
“Brooklyn Light”, Solis Modernist Homes, Brooklyn, NY

2009
Brooklyn Creative League, Brooklyn, NY
“I Harvest”, Redeemer Center for Faith & Work, New York, NY
“Brooklyn”, 440 Gallery; Brooklyn, NY

2008
“Gowanus: A Sense of Place”, Gowanus Canal Conservancy Gallery; Brooklyn, NY
“Firstfruits”, Redeemer Center for Faith & Work, New York, NY
“Collaborative Concepts”, Hat Factory, Peekskill, NY

2006
“Square Foot”, Art Gotham, New York, NY

2005
Biennale Internazionale Dell-Arte Contemporanea, Florence, Italy
Third Floor Gallery, Brooklyn, NY (solo)

2003
Third Floor Gallery, Brooklyn, NY (solo)

2001
Aronson Gallery, MFA Thesis Show, Parsons School of Design, New York, NY
National Arts Club 25th Annual Exhibition, New York, NY

2000
“Links”, Parsons MFA Gallery, New York, NY
Element AG Gallery; New York, NY
Village Lantern, New York, NY (solo)