Category: In The Artist's Studio

An Informal Interview With John Sills

Sills painting on location

Q: Where do you draw your imagery from?

JS: “A lot of it I draw from my daily life, different areas of landscape that resonated with me. Some inspiration I draw out of my head based off what I have seen or images from my studio.”

Q: Do you enjoy painting during a specific time of day?

JS: “Dawn; the only problem is it comes so early.  It’s quiet and I love the colors, there is something peaceful and serene about that time of day.”

“Morning Reflection”, Oil on Canvas, 54 x 54 in.

Q: What kind of things do you have in your studio that inspire you?

JS: “I keep a background of photographs in my studio, however, primary inspiration comes from my heart. Painting is not a depiction but an expression or an interpretation.  As an artist references are necessary but its important that nothing interferes with my expression.”

Sills working in his home studio

 Q: I have noticed that most of your landscapes are void of life, most notably human life. Are you trying to create a dichotomy between man and nature? And if so why?

JS: “Im trying to capture a different feeling about nature, depict, express a more spiritual or symbolic or transcendental quality. If an animal or human works or contributes to that piece than I will include it, otherwise I will leave it out.  Ultimately I am trying to embrace a more abstract quality, capture its essence rather than its image.”

“Coming Light”, Oil on Canvas, 48 x 60 in.

 Q: How do you develop your ground?

JS: “In my work an underlying ground shines through in order to gain a sense of luminosity. I apply thin layers,  maintaining a sensitivity to the application of paint. I try to start from large unified shapes and then work to separate them out, to make them more individualized. This method of  creating a composition helps to unify elements, they seem as though they are flowing seamlessly into one another. I use the ground to work on top of a single tone of color, like that color shining through represents an underlying unity to the images, something beyond the images that connects all the individual parts.”

Q: If you could summarize your practice in two sentences what would they be?

JS: “I don’t want to paint the light on things. I want to paint the light that became things.”