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 absurdist art with a reverence for traditional painting and visual composition.