Francisco Silva Finds His Path 

“If you want to restore your faith in humanity, hike the Appalachian trail,” says Francisco Silva, whose painting of the Phillips’ Mill was selected to be the art show’s Signature Image for 2021. “After a long day of hiking, you meet up with all kinds of people in the shelters. Everyone is there to survive day to day and support one another. You realize that in many ways, we are all the same.”

It was on his backpacking trips that Francisco also rediscovered his faith in himself as a painter. “I spent much of my youth and my twenties painting,” says Francisco, a native of Peru whose parents encouraged him to draw from an early age. Yet, after attending the Parsons School of Design, where he studied composition, color and oil painting, he began working as a graphic designer and ultimately a web designer and developer. The demands of life, and earning a living, prevented him from painting for many years—a story all too familiar to many aspiring artists.

Francisco’s time on the Appalachian trail inspired him to begin painting again. He was drawn to landscapes and was determined to master them. He continues to be inspired by his surroundings and daily interactions, just as he was on the trail. He likes to use rich colors and strong brushwork to express emotion, working from a limited palette, and emphasizing certain areas to create contrast. 

This technique is apparent in his image of the Mill, as is one of his main influences as an artist: Fauvism. “Just by luck, I went to the Mill on a really sunny day with notable long winter shadows,” he explains. “I liked the way the shadows were pointing toward the Mill, with all the lines going toward the building in a way that highlights the Mill the best.”

Francisco's work has grown to include the theme of "social commentary." He recently won second place in the highly competitive and prestigious "Annual Open Juried Exhibition" in Montclair, NJ.

"The painting that won is on racial profiling; it's part of a series I am now working on," he says. "I have also created new works on COVID-19 food lines and immigration."

One day Francisco hopes to transition to being a full-time painter. He attributes his association with Phillips’ Mill as a path to that end and is very excited to be this year’s featured image artist. “I am sure the judges have seen so many different versions of the Mill, and I am very grateful that my image was selected,” he says.

“I was told that you have to get into this show (Phillips’ Mill) if you want to sell your work. I feel very fortunate that my painting was selected as this year’s Signature Image.”

—Francisco Silva, 2021 Winner of the Art Show Signature Image

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Illustration of the Phillips' Mill -Artist: Kathie Jankauskus