Jill McVarish grew up Northern California and began painting seriously at the age of four. At 15 she dropped out of high school to dedicate more time to her work. She received a BFA in 1994 from the San Francisco Art Institute. There, she was further introduced to the possibilities in painting, not only through the curriculum, but also the exchange of energy and ideas with fellow artists. From there she enrolled at the prestigious Garrett Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam, where she learned that 'painting is dead as an art form'. Unsure how to proceed given this devastating news, she bought a pass to the Rijksmuseum and let the Dutch masters become her primary painting instructors. She now reflects on those years as the most definitive in the formation of her style of blending her acknowledgment of contemporary and more obsurdist art with a reverence for traditional painting and visual composition.
I see each of my paintings as a windows to a story. I love the sensation of walking down a street in the evening, when the lights inside make it possible to see glimpses of the interiors of houses. You never get the whole story, only a peak into that world. Maybe you can see people or a pet, or a stuffed animal and a stack of old newspapers. All these things are the characters and the clues to the rest of the story beyond what we see through the window frame. While they may sometimes reflect some concept or idea, I don't intend my paintings to serve as symbolic statements or complete narratives, just windows to an unknown story. I don't aim to instruct or inform when I paint, only to provide a view into the portal of the viewer's imagination, divining itself, the meaning and surroundings of the characters and clues.