F. Hutton Shill was born in Omaha, Nebraska, on June 7, 1872. Although his father was a postal clerk, the artistic talent within his family extended to his sister, who was a music teacher by the age of 17. In addition to studying at the Western Art Association in Omaha, Shill studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts from 1885 to mid-1899 and then again from mid-1903 to mid-1904 under Thomas Anshutz, William Merritt Chase, Hugh Breckenridge, and Cecilia Beaux. Of these individuals, Shill was closest to Anshutz, as he stated, "I expect I had more intimate relations with Anshutz than any other student. We had a studio together for three years, and I practically lived in his home." In 1903 the Academy of Fine Arts awarded Shill the prestigious Cresson Traveling Scholarship which enabled him to study abroad for a year.
However, on October 12, 1899, in between his sessions at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Shill married Leora Belle Markham in Philadelphia. Together they lived in Holly Beach, New Jersey where Shill painted and taught a landscape school for three years. Shill also painted in Port Norris along the Maurice River at this time. After having three children with his wife and having received the Cresson Traveling Scholarship, Shill traveled to Cornwall, England on his own in 1904. During this period, his wife and children moved back to Omaha to stay with Shill's parents, while he painted and taught life classes in St. Ives.
By 1906, Shill returned to New Jersey, living in Camden with his family. He continued to paint and exhibit, eventually earning a second award in the spring of 1907. This allowed him to take his entire family to Cornwall from June of 1907 to May of 1910. During this phase of his life, Shill felt he was more successful as a teacher than as an artist, and so continued his career by teaching life classes in Cornwall. Although Shill was in England at the time, the Pennsylvania Academy did not forget about his talent, and exhibited his work from 1905 to 1907.
After returning to Philadelphia from their three year stay in Cornwall, the Shills moved to Arkansas, where Shill's mother and sister newly resided. In Arkansas Shill farmed and continued to paint, leading to a position as instructor at the Academy of Fine Arts, which was first erected in 1924 in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The Academy later became the art department for the University of Arkansas.
Shill continued his teaching role in the 1930s, where he taught at the Louisiana Academy of Fine Arts. Records indicate that students from all over the South came to Louisiana to receive his instruction. Unfortunately, in 1940 Shill endured an automobile accident that left him with a punctured lung. From that point on, it was difficult for him to endure the humid Louisiana weather, and he set up a studio in Pampa, Texas with a painter friend by the name of Harry Kelly.
Shill continued to teach in Pampa until 1946, when he died of a heart attack. After 74 years of art-filled life, he was buried in the Fairview Cemetery in Texas.