James Francis Gill was born in Tahoka, Texas in 1934 and attended the San Angelo High School. After a tour of duty with the marines, he took a place at the San Angelo College and went on to comple his formal education at the University of Texas in Austin.
From 1956-1960 Gill studied architecture and worked as an architectural designer in Midland and Odessa, Texas and then from 1960-1961 he studied at University of Texas, Austin, on a painting scholarship.
Gill left Texas in 1962 and moved to Los Angeles, California. The support he received from his first dealer, the legendary Felix Landau, was pivotal to Gill ́s early entrance into important private and public collections. Felix Landau was one of the most respected art dealers at that time, with galleries on the West Coast and the East Coast of America.
Stars of film and music, art lovers and business people collected the work of James Francis Gill in the 1960s. Gill was commissioned to paint the covers of well-known print media such as the TIME magazine and Vogue, and Hollywood stars like John Wayne and Tony Curtis requested to be painted by him.