Based in Norwich, Michael Andrews was inspired as a youth by the works of Cotman and Crome, amongst other East Anglian masters. His Methodist father supported his desire to paint and allowed him to attend part-time oil painting classes at Norwich School of Art whilst he completed his education.
After military service he went London and studied at the Slade School of Fine Art under Lucian Freud, William Townsend and William Coldstream. His interest in autobiography, self and ego were cultivated at this time. Awarded the Rome Scholarship in 1953 he staged his first solo exhibition at the Beaux Arts Gallery in 1958. He enjoyed London life and became more outgoing than his naturally shy personality had previously allowed. He also taught at the Slade, Chelsea and Norwichschools of art. During this time his work frequently focused on social gatherings, although he was famously slow in producing paintings.
By the age of 50 he had moved back to East Anglia settled in Saxlingham, Norfolk, and centred his life entirely around his art. Somewhat reclusive, he ceased painting portraits and shifted his focus landscapes, his village as well as from his travels around Scotland and Australia. He became a member of the Norwich Twenty Group.
Andrews moved back to London in 1992 and painted the Thames until his death in 1995. Retrospectives were held by Tate Britain in 2001 and the Gagosian Gallery, London, in 2017.