"Painting for me is recapturing the experience of seeing, without being too literal-minded about what that experience is or means"
Artist Michael Alford was born in Cookham, England and 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. Later as an adult he studied art at the Slade School and the Chelsea School of Art.
As a young man Michael 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. He is now known for his ability to blend classical technique with a sharp, modern sensibility.
Michael shows widely in number of London galleries and across the UK, as well as in Europe and the United States. He sells his work internationally and has paintings in several private and public collections, including the National Army Museum. His decorative murals feature in homes, restaurants, hotels, palaces and public spaces around the world.
Discussing his work, Michael states:
"My work always starts with direct observation of the visible world. It can be broad and sweeping, as in landscapes or cityscapes, or very close and intimate, as in figures, nudes or interiors. I often go out looking for subjects and return to the studio with sketches or drawings. These I use as a starting point for a process that turns raw observation, impressions, into something more abstract and evocative. The process often involves cutting out visual distractions and transient effects so that the resulting image has more power.
Time acts as an important filter for me and so does physical distance between the initial sketch and the painting. Both help me distil the memory and pick out the essential forms. My overall aim is to communicate my experience of seeing, to convey through the use of light and shadow and mood, some of the magic and mystery I feel when I look at the world.“
Michael has been an official war artist for the British Military on three occasions. In 2011 and 2013 he accompanied troops to Helmand Province, Afghanistan. In 2016, a third commission took him to Iraq. Michael is a former council member of the Chelsea Arts Society. In 2017 he appeared in SkyArts Landscape Artist of the Year.