Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Jon Snow

Anyone who has heard me blabber on about the Game of Thrones books knows how excited I am to show this one.  Without further ado:

This was a commissioned as a Christmas gift,  I finished it a few weeks ago but didn't want to spoil the surprise.    Original is 16x24 oil on paper on board.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

ImagineFX Rising Stars competition and interview

I found out last month that I was one of 10 winners of the 2012 ImagineFX Rising Stars competition.  Now that the winners have been revealed in the latest issue I am honored to share this with everyone.  I haven't received my copy yet so I don't know who the other winners and honorable mentions are,  but I would like to extend a congratulations to them as well. 

I would also like to thank Lou Anders for all the nice things he had to say about my work in the article. 

I did an interview for them, and not all of it was published.  So if you want to read some incoherent rambling they managed to edit down for the article I have included the full version below.

- First of all, how does it feel to have been chosen as a Rising Star?

I was completely surprised and honored, I found out while I was at the airport on my way to Illuxcon (an illustration convention)  I couldn’t think of a better way to have started the weekend.

- How long have you been making art at a professional level? Was there a time when it all clicked for you, where you started working in a style that you could call your own?

I started working professionally about 4 years ago.  I would say everything started to click for me in the months leading up to and then at the 2010 Illustration Master Class.  That is where I painted Joan of Arc and really began to understand my own artistic voice.  Since then things have exploded for me.

- Was there anything about your upbringing that made a life in art inevitable?

Actually it was quite the opposite.   I didn’t really start drawing until I was 18 and even then it was only a few days a week as part of my degree in Digital Arts & Animation.  Over time I grew to fall in love with art and shortly before I graduated I decided that was what I wanted to do with my life.  My parents were thrilled!

- Where do you currently work?

I am working freelance full-time out of San Diego, California.   I am told we have some of the best weather in the world, I am thinking about going outside and checking it out one of these days.

- At what point are you now in your art career?

It’s really hard to say as a freelancer, especially this early in.  I wouldn’t consider myself " established" yet, but I am getting steady work and starting to attract some pretty serious attention.

- Do you have an ideal work position that you're aiming for in the industry?

Eventually I would like to just paint whatever I want, whenever I please.  I don’t know if that is a realistic goal or not though. and I am quite content to just enjoy the journey and try to give it my all along the way.  Honestly, I wake up most days and wonder how the hell I made it this far.

- Have you studied art? Has there been an inspirational teacher/person that's encouraged you to take art seriously?

I first studied art as part of my Digital Arts & Animation at Cogswell Polytechnical College.  An instructor named Thomas Applegate taught me quite a bit and was very influential and encouraging in my switch over to traditional painting.  From there I studied at Watts Atelier of Arts for about 5 years.  Everyone who taught me there was incredibly inspirational but E.M. Gist in particular acted as a mentor of sorts and really helped me grow to where I am now.

- What are your artistic strengths? (no false modesty now – you have just been chosen by the industry leading artists as the very best!!) - What do people most mention to you when they see your artwork?

Portraiture and the use of light and shadow are among my biggest strengths, they tend to feed off each other as well.   Just about everything else has been a weakness at some point.  Thankfully I can be extremely persistent and disciplined. Those aren’t exactly artistic strengths per se, but they have allowed me work through just about every artistic problem that has been thrown at me over the years.

- How have your studies at Illustration Master Class directed you in the kind of art you create?

Illustration Master Class was an amazing week that will stay with me for the rest of my life.  It also served as a catalyst for a whole lot of areas of art I was working on to come together and finally click.  Ultimately, I would have to give credit to my years at Watts Atelier for where I am today.

- Is your aim to depict a realistic character/situation, or a mood/feel that a viewer can inhabit? (or neither!)

I don’t really see those things as being mutually exclusive, quite the opposite in fact.   I think in order to depict a realistic character or situation you have to have a strong sense of mood or emotion.   I have seen exquisite renderings of humans that were devoid of any mood, and therefore never felt real to me.  Conversely I have seen many a character painting that, while not as technically brilliant,  felt incredibly real due to the artists skill with mood.  Rembrandt’s portraits jump off the canvas because he was an absolute genius at both.

- Would you ever move to digital art? It's a lot quicker, you know?!

Would you ever cook a steak in a microwave because it is quicker?  I work traditionally because I have a passion for working on a real physical object.   The discipline and persistence I talked about earlier stem from this passion and without those I am nothing artistically.  I am sure I could learn the tools easily enough,  but I don’t think I could really do what I do best on the computer.

-Any advice for aspiring artists?

I think a lot of aspiring artists sell themselves short in their work.  The most common theme I see amongst intermediate level artists is simply a lack of love and effort put into the work, usually in the details and backgrounds.  So much of what I do involves no great skill, but a mere willingness to put the effort into every square inch of the painting.  “Good enough” is never good enough in my opinion.  

Monday, November 19, 2012


I started working on these two months ago.  I had wanted to experiment a bit with a more decorative look over the more narrative tone I usually take.  Also,  the itch to do another red and white drawing was too strong.  I didn't want to do just a preliminary drawing though.  My intent was to put just as much care into the drawing as the painting and let them each stand on their own as finished illustrations.

Both are 16" by 24".  The painting is oil on paper on board,  the drawing is colored pencil on kraft Stonehenge paper.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Auran Empire

If you have been wondering why I haven't posted anything in awhile,  I must confess,  I have been holding out on you.  I have been hoarding work in order to make a grand reveal of multiple paintings at Illuxcon.  The show has come and gone and once again it was beyond amazing.  I'll be rolling out some of the new work over the next week or so.

First up is a cover for the Auran Empire Campaign Setting,  for the Adventurer Conqueror King system being published by Autarch.  More info on the books and this role-playing game world can be found here:

Due to the scale of everything I decided to paint this one a bit bigger than I normally work.  Original is 24" by 30" oil on paper on board.  (And is still available for sale at this time)

Monday, September 24, 2012

Deviant Glee

The full spoiler of Return to Ravnica cards is up at    There is some gorgeous artwork in this set.

Here is my humble contribution.   Original is 13" by 18" oil on paper on board.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Stealer of Secrets

This painting just got previewed today by Wizards.   It is from the new Return to Ravnica block of cards,  I have one more coming out in this set as well.

Original is oil on paper on board  16"  by 22" and will most likely be on display at Illuxcon.

For anyone in the Los Angeles area:  I will be at Comikaze this weekend,  table 716 near the Magic tournaments.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


If you were at SDCC or saw any pictures of my booth then you were among the first to see this one.  Here it is for everyone else.    "Athena"  was done as a companion piece to "Artemis"  which I painted a few months ago.  It is for the same client  Artists of Magic and will be produced as a playmat sometime next year.

Original is 17" by 29" oil on paper on board 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

More appearances added to the schedule

I have been invited to attend a few more events than initially planned this year.  Looks like I am going to be busy as usual for the next few months,  here is where I will be for the rest of the year:

Next Saturday I will be back at Thou Shalt Game Entertainment in Temecula for the Magic the Gathering 2013 core set prerelease tournament

The following week you can find me at booth #4817 (which I am splitting with a friend; Alain Viesca) at San Diego Comic Con

At the end of August I will be in the dealers room,  (bottom floor of the Marriot) at DragonCon in Atlanta.  It looks like I will be at a few of the MTG tournaments during the convention as well.

Two weeks later, Sep. 15-16, I will be at Comikaze Expo at the LA convention center.  I was invited as a guest for the  MTG tournaments and I believe my table will be in that general area.

October 19-20 I will be at SOE Live at Bally's Casino in Las Vegas.  This is Sony Online Entertainment's fan convention.  I am not actually allowed to sell prints of any of the work I have done for SOE at this convention because...?  Who knows......   I will however have plenty of prints of my other work.

And last but definitely not least,  the highlight of my year and the best place to see lots of my originals:  Illuxcon in Altoona PA,  Nov 8-11

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


I finished this one just in time to bring to Spectrum Live.  I had done the sketch to pitch to a client for another gaming mat.  They were looking for something a bit more aggressive and didn't go for it (which I completely understand)  but I liked it enough to paint it anyway.   I am going to look into producing a run of gaming mats on my own with the image.

Original is 17 x 29 oil on paper on board.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Avacyn Restored - Human Token

And another one from the Avacyn Restored set, this time a token card. I ended up painting it in 2:3 format, even though I knew they were going to crop it some.

Original is 16" by 24" oil on paper on board.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Prologue: The Art of Michael C. Hayes available now

If you have been following me on facebook or stopped by my booth at a convention this year, you already knew about this. If not, then here you go: I have a book out now! The big shipment just came in yesterday and they are ready to go.

The book is full color, thick 250 gsm glossy stock throughout, 44 pages, A4 size, softcover.

If you have ever bought an original oil painting from me I will be sending you a copy as a gift, I will be sending out a mass email shortly to get everyone's address. If you don't hear from me within a week please drop me a line.

For everyone else, the price is $20 + shipping ($5 for U.S., $13 for Canada and Mexico, $17 for the rest of the world, I need your phone # for customs for international P.O. boxes) I will also have copies available for sale at all the conventions I am attending this year.

I will be shipping books every Monday morning,  so depending on when you order it,  it will take 1-7 to leave my house.

I will happily sign your copy for if you want, just ask in the "special instructions" section of checkout.

This was a fairly significant investment for me, so I am not gonna be shy about asking for help promoting this. Please do me a favor and share this on Facebook, Twitter, DeviantArt, your own blog or anywhere you can think of. It would be much appreciated.

Cathedral Sanctifier

Another one from the upcoming "Avacyn Restored" set. I don't know the actual card name for this one either since only the art has been spoiled so far. I will update both posts once I know the card names.

Once again, I will signing at the Avacyn Restored pre-release at Thou Shalt Game in Temecula, CA on April 28th.

Original is 16" by 22" oil on paper on board

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A short interview

I recently did a short interview for one of my clients, Autarch. Just some general ramblings on my art, influences and what not.

You can find it over on the company's blog:

Monday, April 9, 2012

Appetite for Brains

The artwork for this card just got spoiled in an article on Daily MTG. It will be in the upcoming expansion Avacyn Restored. I don't know what the real name of the card is or what it does yet."appetite for brains" is just what they called it when it was commissioned, they always change the name though.

This is the last of the creepy horror stuff I have done for Magic (for the next little while anyway), I have two more cards coming out in this set that have a more subdued feel.

On the topic of Magic, I will at the Avacyn Restored prerelease at Thou Shalt Game in Temecula all day on April 28th. RK Post will be there too, we will both be signing and selling prints and stuff. I plan to bring a few originals from the Innistrad block to show off as well.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Here is my latest, loosely based on the Greek goddess of the hunt. This was done as artwork for a gaming playmat put out by Artists of Magic

As part of the contract for this one I am getting 12 mats free and the ability to purchase more at wholesale prices. So once it is released I will be selling them at conventions and online.

The original is 17" by 29" oil on paper on board. I will mostly likely be displaying it at Spectrum Live in May.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Wondercon and Emerald City Comicon

I'll be exhibiting at Wondercon this weekend, if you are going to be there stop on by table 147 in Artist Alley

Two weeks later I will be in Seattle for the Emerald City Comicon and you can find me at table K-03

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Back in November, a few weeks after returning from Illuxcon (a convention focused on traditional sci-fi and fantasy art which I have dubbed "the happiest place on earth") I got an email from the Pat & Jeannie Wilshire, the fine folks who run Illuxcon, asking me if I wanted to paint one of the three official Illuxcon commissions.

It's pretty common advice to tell aspiring illustrators, that once they get that all important first gig, to knock it out of the park. I don't think one should stop there, in my mind there are going to numerous jobs throughout your career that are just as important, if not more so, and when they come along you must be ready to give it everything you got. To me this was one of them.

Although it has by far the smallest attendance and is the most laid back once I actually get there Illuxcon is by far the most important show for me. I am already starting to plan for Illuxcon 2012 and I still have 6 other conventions to go to before November. Illuxcon and the Illustration Exchange (also run by Pat & Jeannie) have been a huge part of shaping my career in a way that I didn't anticipate 5 years ago. I knew I would be able to sell a few originals here and there but I didn't think sales would end up accounting for more than 60% of my income. And if it weren't for these institutions they have created, they simply wouldn't. I just wouldn't have gotten the exposure to sell so many painting so early in my career. This, in turn, has given me the freedom to turn down certain jobs in favor of pursuing my own artistic goals, knowing I could probably move the originals. Works like "Love Never Dies" and "Inheritance" would probably never have been painted otherwise, and many other commissioned paintings would not have been painted so large and detailed.

So when I was asked to do an official commission for the show (alongside Jim Burns and Larry Elmore, I might add) It was a "go big or go home" moment for me. And this is what came of it:

I'll do a "behind the scenes" post fairly soon here, since there was obviously a lot that went into creating this. But I have blabbered enough for now.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

2012 Appearances

It's gonna be another busy year of traveling for me. I will be exhibiting my work and at the following in 2012:

Wondercon - March 16-18, Anaheim, CA

Emerald City Comicon - March 30 - April 1, Seattle, WA

Free Comic Book Day @ Player's Dugout - May 5th Riverside, CA

Spectrum Fantastic Art Live! May 18-20 Kansas City, MI

Phoenix Comicon May 24-27

San Diego Comic-Con July 12-15

DragonCon Aug 31 - Sep 3 Atlanta, GA

Illuxcon Nov 8-11 Altoona, PA

Monday, January 9, 2012

Nearheath Stalker

Another new Magic piece from the Dark Ascension set just got previewed. It is always fun to try and creep out your audience.

16" by 22" oil on paper on board.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Curse of Bloodletting

Some of the new art for the Dark Ascension expansion was previewed by WOTC today, so I get to show this one off a little early. (or a little late, since it was originally commissioned for Innistrad and got bumped back)

I don't know the name of the card yet since the article just showed the art, I will update this post once I do.

13" by 18" oil on paper on board