Lemont Center for the Arts

To enrich the cultural landscape of Lemont by fostering the production and appreciation of the arts.

Michael McNicholas – Local Artist Feature

This week, we feature local artist Michael McNicholas. Michael shares with us this inspirational quote:

“Nothing great was ever created without passion.” Mr. William Parks, American Academy of Art.

Winter Landscape ©Michael McNicholas

Winter Landscape ©Michael McNicholas

Michael has worked as an Art Director and Illustrator in the fields of marketing and advertising for much of his professional career. Michael has accepted numerous commissions to paint portraits for both private collectors as well as corporate leaders. Currently, Michael is focused on figurative painting and portraiture. In addition, he is teaching classes on The Art of Still Life and Portrait Painting. Michael studied art at The American Academy of Art in Chicago, under the respected tutelage of Irving Shapiro and William Parks. Michael resides with his wife Gail and Son Michael Chase, in Palos Park, IL

Affiliations and Memberships:

  • Portrait Society of America
  • The Portrait Institute
  • The American Society of Portrait Artists
  • Chicago Artist Coalition (CAC)

You can learn more about Michael and his work by visiting: http://www.michaelcreativeart.com. or on Facebook

Medium or Media 

Oil, pastel, watercolor and mixed media painting

Artist Statement

The Couple ©Michael McNicholas

The Couple ©Michael McNicholas

In my opinion, art expression is the offspring of many different environmental and cultural factors. For me personally it is closely aligned to several meaningful relationships that influenced my life. Nothing is probably more influential to our own creative growth than the experiences we garner from those relationships with family, friends and loved ones. Those, along with our education and cultural development, probably account for most of our attitudes, ideas and passion to express ourselves through art. Although I don’t speak of it that much, as I look back today I realize just how much my mother influenced and encouraged my early growth and pursuance of art. The encouragement came through her loving praises over my crude attempts to sketch childhood icons and heros. As I later learned my mother was also an aspiring artist, and for a short period of time she once studied at the Art Institute in Chicago. I recall one day finding many lovely pastel figure drawings rolled away in a storage closet. In retrospect I couldn’t understand why she kept them hidden away when they were done so well? I studied them wondering if I could ever do anything this beautiful? Today my passion to paint the human form makes a bit more sense to me. I guess it’s why I find little intrigue in the abstract art form. Somehow what I choose to paint is as much a part of my DNA as the color of my eyes.

Share your process and/or technique.

It all starts with an idea, a concept, a desire to say something important with my brush. Or, sometimes the process evolves directly out of a visual image in my head. From there I usually develop smaller compositional studies to try and refine the visual idea into a most powerful visual. This is also the time to resolve any issues with color value relationships and how to move the viewers eye throughout the composition. All of this usually takes place before I apply a single stroke of paint to my final canvas.

What types of challenges do you seek in art making?

Although I am probably considered a realist by definition, I feel my work is evolving beyond the practice of mere accurate and realistic depiction of my subject. I look for ways to say something more profound and truthful about each work-of-art–a desire to make a very personal observation of my own is always present. Currently, I have several new works in progress that are investigating ways to use the human form in order to express important political and social issues that impact our cultural landscape.

What inspires you?

Great art and music. The world we live in and what we can imagine from it. People who live with passion and conviction.

 Where can one view your art in person?

To see more of the artists work up close and personal you are encouraged to make an appointment to visit the artists studio since most of his work is with private collectors.

Where/how can one purchase your art?

Visit the artists web site and email: gail @michaelcreativeart.com


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This program is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.