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About Me

Contemporary Realistic Figurative Painter


People who view my work, often say that my work creates a story that reflects their own. Quite often that story is one of overcoming a struggle or peaceful nostalgia. 

I am Mays Mayhew and I create artwork that helps people immerse themselves in stories of overcoming and introspection. I spend a lot of time to render the figures realistically. The pairs are created to tell stories or narratives. Repetition causes dualities. -Dualities like the literal drawn image juxtapose with the untold story behind the work. I use graphite pencils as a medium for the hauntingly beautiful silver monochromic environment they create. My work is monochromatic because I love gray scales and two my brothers and son are color blind. Their color blindness makes it hard to distingue between two different colors. I want them to be able to see my art. 

I was born and raised on a beef and crop farm in Wisconsin. I was raised by a single dad with three older brothers and a younger sister. Everyone had to work very hard every day. Every day. My father also worked as an engineer who traveled internationally. Us five kids were alone a lot on the farm. He expected us to do our chores whether he was there or not. He hated TV so we never owned one. We weren't distracted by it. (I hate TV to this day and still don't have one). We all became quite independent. My rural background created a strong work-ethic.  

Mays is the blonde girl sticking her tongue out, posed with her siblings and calf, on the family farm.       

On the farm I was able to pursue what I loved - drawing and painting. So there was no hestsiation that I'd go to art school. In addition to studying under the infamous Richard Lazzaro, Carol Pylant and Dan Ramirez at UW Madison, I also studied art aboard in Italy. Thirty years later, I have not stopped learning about art. In the next thirty years I  hope to continue my practice and share my art with more people.


I live in Aurora, IL with my husband and two kids. We live a very rich life of church, homeschooling, hiking, speed skating, and gardening. We also love to entertain so if you'd like a studio visit, please come. I hold annual Open Studio events every April and November. 

What is it that makes me a painter? I can't do without it. It's my everyday. I've always done it. I always will.

Starline Art Gallery, Harvard, IL 2019 (Mays with her son & daughter)

Solo Show at Water St. Studio, Batavia, IL 2022 (installation view)

If you’d like to have a piece of artwork that elicits conversation or shows your struggle or strength then check out the galleries. I also welcome in-person studio visits in Aurora, IL.   

Check out upcoming events

Solo Show at Water St. Studio, Batavia, IL 2022 (installation view)


“When I saw what Mays had created for me and learned why she did it, tears came to my eyes. She does great work, has excellent craftsmanship, and professionalism. She creates more than a realistic-looking portrait.”   -Alexa S., Client, Wheeling, IL   

 “I have been following the art of Mays Mayhew for some time now. I find her work visually enigmatic and it always makes me think about the relationship of the figurative images within the work and their relationship to us.”    -Sergio Gomez, Director of Exhibitions, Zhou B Art Center, IL

“Her VERY UNIQUE and mesmerizing technique coupled with her artistic vision and subject matter is sure to enthrall and intrigue you. Who knew what graphite could do in the hands of someone like Mays? Her imagery is impeccable and emits both dark & light moods as well as outstanding technicality.”    -Kendra Kett, Gallery Director, Blue Moon Gallery, IL


John Michael Kohler Art Center, Sheboygan, WI, 2022

Group Shows

2019 - IDENTITY, The Old Courthouse Art Center, Woodstock, IL

Fox Valley Art Ramble, Aurora, IL

- EMPATHY, Aurora Public Art Commission, Aurora, IL. Starline Gallery, Harvard, IL

- PAINTING THE FIGURE NOW, Wausau Art Museum, WI & Zhou B Art Center, Chicago, IL

- REAL PEOPLE, Old Courthouse Art Center, Woodstock, IL

2017 - RMG Connections, State St. Gallery, Chicago, IL

2018 - Starline Gallery, Harvard, IL. Vertical Living Gallery, Harvest Bible Chapel Gallery, Elgin, IL

2015 - 30x30x30 Var Gallery, Milwaukee, WI

2014 - THE TRANSIENT FIGURE, 33 Contemporary Gallery, Chicago, IL


2013 - THE FIGURE AS STORYTELLER, Beverly Arts Center, Chicago, IL

2011 - THE FIGURE, Karen Solem Gallery, Elmhurst, IL

2010 - SQUARE ONE, Black Walnut Gallery, Chicago, IL

- MEMBER'S SHOW, Elmhurst Art Museum, Elmhurst, IL. Evolving. Beverly Arts Center, Chicago, IL

- THE ART OF LIVING, Connie Weiss Gallery, Brookfield Terrance, IL

- CENTER NATIONAL, Woman Made Gallery, Chicago, IL

2009 - Group Show, Poe.M Gallery, Downer's Grove, IL

SOlo Shows

2023 - MAYS MAYHEW, Solo Show, Dole Mansion Art Gallery, Crystal Lake, IL

2022 - MAYS MAYHEW, Solo Show, Water Street Studio, Batavia, IL

2020 - FACE TO FACE. Solo Show, Compassion Factory, Brookfield, IL

- TWICE. Solo Show, Gary Brown Gallery, Aurora, IL

2019 - TOLD. UNTOLD. Solo Show, Blue Moon Gallery, Grayslake, IL

- MAYS MAYHEW RETROSPECTIVE, Starline Factory Gallery, Harvard, IL

2018 - DOPPELGANGER, Solo Show, SXU Gallery, Chicago, IL

2016 - INSIDE THE MIRROR, Solo Show, Morpho Gallery, Chicago, IL

2014 - ADVICE. Solo Show, Adventureland Gallery, Chicago, IL

2012 - DOPPELGANGER, Crescent Gallery, Pulse Miami, FL (During Art Basel / Miami Art Week)

- REFLECT REFLECT, Solo Show, Chicago Arts Loop Alliance, Chicago, IL

2011 - FIND. Solo Show, Art Matrix Gallery / Zhou B Arts Center, Chicago, IL

2010 - ENGAGE. Solo Show, 4 Star Gallery, Indianapolis, IN


Masters of Business Administration. [MBA]  Kellstadt Graduate School of Business, DePaul University.

Bachelors of Fine Art in painting. [BFA] University of Madison - Wisconsin.

Figure Painting. Rhode Island School of Design [RISD]. Providence, RI.

Art History of the Italian Renaissance, [Study aboard] Florence, Italy


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This means you can use the camera on your phone or tablet and superimpose any piece of art onto a wall inside of your home or business.

To use this feature, Just look for the "Live Preview AR" button when viewing any piece of art on this website!


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