At ACT, we are proud of the artists that we help protect and all that they accomplish, so we want to show them off. Each month we will be featuring artists and crafters from our program on our blog and in the ACT Canvas.
This month we are featuring Mike McConnell, a painter and illustrator from Baltimore, who studied at the Maryland Institute College of Art and went on to spend over 30 years freelancing as an illustrator for many of the excellent design firms and marketing agencies in and around Baltimore and Washington DC.
His illustrations have been included in multiple design magazines including Print’s Regional Design Awards, The Society of Illustrators Annual, and HOW Magazine’s Annual.
Mike says he doesn’t remember first deciding to make art part of his life—it has always been there. “I haven’t stopped making art since I was a kid,” he says. “My parents let me go to art school. I started freelance illustrating the summer after my graduation.”
While he is still continuing as an artist, his pursuits are changing some. In 2012, he decided to focus exclusively on creating fine art. He made this change because a changing market for freelance illustration gave him a reason to follow a different dream: “I wasn’t making money at it so I figured I might as well not make money creating my own work as a fine artist. I had no idea it would be this challenging.”
Despite the challenge, Mike is finding success. His work has appeared in many exhibits including: The Maryland Artist Registry Juried Exhibition, Art in Motion :The 25th Annual Strathmore Exhibition, the Athenaeum Invitational, Platform Gallery First Annual Juried Exhibition, the 57th Chautauqua Annual Exhibition of Contemporary Art, McLean Project for the Arts, Transformations: From One Thing to Another, and the 2nd Biennial Maryland Regional Juried Art Exhibit. In 2015 Mike had solo shows at School 33, Baltimore, MD and the Athenaeum, Alexandria, VA. He is a 2016 Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award Recipient in Painting.
Mike paints with acrylics on birch panels as well as working on paper with wax oil crayons and sumi ink. He sells his work from a gallery space in Baltimore and through various art shows. He finds inspiration in nature and in his travels, and his biggest influences as a fine artist are Henri Matisse, Paul Klee, and David Hockney.
Mike says he is lucky to be in Baltimore where he has easy access to some of the most important fine art in the world: “Many of my all time favorite paintings are here at the Baltimore Museum of Art. Many more just a short train ride away in the great Washington, Philadelphia and New York galleries.”
We are proud to have Mike as a member of the ACT program. He is a great example of the independent artists that ACT helps protect.
To learn more about Mike and see more examples of his work, visit his website.