Michael Alford was born in Cookham, England, grew up in Germany and attended Rugby School. His earliest art training came from his father, a colonel in the Royal Engineers, who taught him to draw in perspective from a young age. After a stint in the Royal Marines, Michael went on to Durham University where he studied Spanish and Arabic. He travelled extensively in South America and the Middle East, keeping detailed sketchbooks to record his experiences. This series of early drawings reveals a talent for the figurative depiction of cities, human figures, and natural scenes, the subjects that form the core of his work to this day.
Returning to the United Kingdom, Michael pursued studies at the Slade School and the Chelsea School of Art before launching a successful painting career. Known for his ability to blend classical technique with a sharp, modern sensibility, his work can be found in public and private collections around the world. He exhibits regularly in the United Kingdom as well as in the United States and continental Europe. He has been awarded several prizes including the Green and Stone Oil Painting Prize, the Agnes Reeve Memorial Prize for best painting of London, and the Prima Luce Mural prize. His work has been chosen for exhibit by the Royal Society of Oil Painters. Michael is a serving council member of the Chelsea Arts Society.
Michael’s body of work is varied, reflecting his interests in many aspects of life as well as his skill in a variety of media. He is best known for masterful cityscapes of contemporary urban centres such as London, New York and Barcelona. His paintings and drawings of people — men and women, clothed and nude — are highly sought-after for their combination of fine draughtsmanship, acute observation and sense of drama. He is frequently commissioned as a portraitist of both individuals and groups. Continuing his practice of painting while travelling, Michael regularly produces plein air paintings and watercolour sketches of landscapes as diverse as Dorset and Oman.
In 2011 Michael served as official War Artist to the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, accompanying them on their tour of Afghanistan. While there he completed Afghan Sketches, a series 24 of watercolour paintings that record his experience of living alongside the soldiers on remote patrol bases on the edge of ISAF-controlled territory. He exhibited these and other Afghan paintings at a special exhibition held at the Royal Geographical Society, later donating the sketchbook to The Colonel’s Fund, the Guard’s charitable body. Michael was subsequently commissioned by the Grenadier Guards to paint two large ceremonial works, Blue 9 and Presentation of the Colours.
Michael is also a well-known mural painter. His work can be found in private homes, palaces, hotels, restaurants and public spaces in the UK, across Europe, in Asia, the USA, and in may parts of the Middle East.
Michael Alford lives and works in London.