Robert Najlis was born in Brooklyn, NY and grew up in NJ, with frequent trips to museums and concerts in NYC. He is currently studying to receive his Masters of Fine Arts at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. Along with oil painting, he is studying art theory, contemporary music and fiber arts.
One of his earliest memories from childhood is of looking up in the Museum of Modern Art in NY, and standing transfixed in front of a giant painting by Miro. He also remembers fondly the Monet waterlilies that spanned three walls, and, one of his personal favorites, the Matisse rooms in the old Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Najlis’ early training began with a kind woman named Mrs. Shapiro, who, besides teaching him the fundamentals of drawing and painting, also gave out cookies after each class. At 14 Robert began studying oil painting with Jock Macrae, a graduate of the Art Students League of New York.
Najlis then went on to study painting at Hampshire College, Indiana University and the Corcoran College of Art and Design, Corcoran proved especially important to him, as he met and studied with Tom Morris who introduced him to many of the older classics of art instruction, including many books dating back to the 1800’s and before.
From there Najlis moved back to New York City, home for him and home for the Art Students League of New York. Upon arriving at the League, he first studied figure drawing with Michael Burban, an instructor in the lineage of Robert Beverly Hale and George Bridgman, going all the way back to Titian. This helped to solidify his figural work, which, although he is now an abstract painter, is something that Najlis still considers essential to his work.