In a recent series of paintings, South Carolina’s Francis Sills was influenced by the landscape in and around his Low Country home.
The artist: Sills grew up in central New Jersey where he was exposed to art and nature as a child, hiking and fishing in the woods, ponds and creeks near his home. He also had grandfathers who were good with their hands: one as a watercolorist, the other with carpentry and building.
After he graduated with a BFA in painting from Syracuse University, Sills moved to New York and worked as a color mixer for a company that made handmade wallpapers. For him, it was a great way to study color.
He also worked at a furniture company doing faux finishes and later a decorative painting company doing plaster finishes and murals. Along the way he earned an MFA from Parsons School of Design.
In 2011, after 15 years in New York, Sills and his family moved to Charleston, SC, where he could focus on his painting and eventually teach painting and drawing at the College of Charleston.
The studio: Sills works in front of his easel or sketchbook in his home studio in Mount Pleasant, SC. He has been painting professionally since 1996.
The art & materials: Colorful oil paintings on canvas ($1,500 to $10,000).
What’s popular: A series of florals and plants from his home garden and landscape. Some were painted plein air. Others, in containers, were brought into his studio and juxtaposed with various mirrors and objects, he said.
Other favorites: South Carolina landscapes.
- Paul Cézanne, and early on, Lucian Freud.
- European/French Impressionism.
- Early Modernist tradition.
- Color, light, patterns in nature.
“I can’t stand in front of a blank canvas and find inspiration,” said Sills. “I am the type of artist who needs to see something in front of me. Then react to it.”
Awards & honors: Many, including:
- South Carolina State Park artist in residence at Oconee State Park, 2021
- Visiting Artist at the Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston, 2021.
- In 2020, one of his paintings became part of the public collection in the Fine Art Program and Collection at Montefiore Einstein in New York.
What’s new: Collage on paper with drawings, photocopies and paint chips.
What’s next: An exhibition at the Gibbes Museum Dec. 10-Jan. 30, 2022.
Where to buy:
- Horton Hayes Fine Art, Charleston, SC
- Kenise Barnes Fine Art, Kent, CT
Get social at:
- Instagram: francissills
- Website: francissills.com