Mike Chaplin

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Michael James Chaplin
Born 19 September 1943
Little Barford, St. Neots, Huntingdonshire
Nationality British
Education Watford School of Art (NDD), Brighton School of Art (Postgraduate)
Known for Watercolour, Etching, Oil
Awards The Turner Award 2011
Website www.mikechaplin.com

Michael James Chaplin (Mike) NDD, RWS, RE, FRSA (born 19 September 1943) is a British artist, known primarily for his work in the mediums of etching and watercolour. He was guest art expert on the Channel 4 art programme Watercolour Challenge with Hannah Gordon.[1][2]


Mike was born at Little Barford, to the south of St. Neots, in Huntingdonshire (now part of Bedfordshire), and attended primary school in Sandy, Bedfordshire.

In the early 1950s, he moved with his parents and older sister to Harpenden, on the outskirts of St Albans in Hertfordshire. His love of art was already starting to develop.

He attended St Albans Boys' Grammar School (since renamed Verulam School) and was a contemporary there of Colin Blunstone and Chris White, who later formed the pop group The Zombies. In fact, Mike was the guitarist in an earlier band, along with Colin Coke and Chris White, called the Markysparks, in reference to Markyate, Chris White's home town.

Leaving school, and following a spell of working in the art department of his Alma Mater, Mike studied graphic design at Watford School of Art, gaining his National Diploma of Design. He followed this up with a postgraduate course in Printmaking at Brighton school of art, now The Faculty of Arts and Architecture, part of the University of Brighton.

After completing his studies, Mike moved with his late wife Gay, a teacher and artist in her own right, to Maidstone, in Kent, where he is still based. They had one son, Nicholas (b. 1977) and one daughter, Briony (b. 1980).

In 1971, at the age of 28, Mike was elected as an associate of The Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers (at that time known as the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers and Engravers), becoming one of the youngest people ever to receive this accolade. He was later elected to full membership, subsequently serving as Honorary Secretary and Vice President, and is now a senior fellow of the society.

In 1997, having been an associate since 1993, Mike was elected to Full Member of the Royal Watercolour Society. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.



Mike's first work as a professional artist was to create woodcut pictures for the dust-jackets of books, while still a student. He became a professional artist in his own right at the end of the 1960s, selling his first picture for seven Guineas. His earliest pieces in his own right were almost exclusively in the medium of etching. The influence of Mike's background in graphic design is very clear to see in these first pictures, which are highly stylised, bordering on abstract. Already at this stage, however, Mike's love of architecture, particularly industrial, was becoming apparent. (An early etching depicts the workings of a disused power station, a theme which Mike would revisit later in his career.)

Mike’s work, both in painting and printmaking, has made him one of Britain’s most well known painters, and he is represented in many public and private collections worldwide, including those of HM The Queen, HM The Queen Mother, ex-King Constantine of the Hellenes, Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, and the Daily Express (mural for the Boardroom).

Mike achieved great popularity as resident art expert on the hit Channel 4 programme Watercolour Challenge with Hannah Gordon. With 3 series and over 60 programmes, Mike reached an audience of over 112 million . He also filmed an hour-long follow-up video, which was made to accompany the series.


He was commissioned to produce a series of handling sheets of watercolour techniques for the Tate Gallery to accompany the Thomas Girtin Exhibition (Summer 2002) and demonstrated painting techniques during the El Greco Exhibition at the National Gallery (2004).


2003 saw Mike filming for BBC2's Open University Art History Unit, following in the steps of J. M. W. Turner and re-creating some of his paintings of the Lake District. In 2005 Mike again worked with the Tate Gallery recording audio notes on the Turner exhibits for the acclaimed Turner, Whistler & Monet exhibition.


In 2007 Mike was given the enormous privilege of using J M W Turner's pigments to be ground by him into watercolour. The paint was subsequently used by him for filming Turner's watercolour techniques for a permanent exhibition at Tate Britain in London.

Mike loves teaching adults of all ability levels on residential courses in Britain and abroad.


Mike worked with the family of J M W Turner to establish the Turner Award for Watercolour as part of the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, and was himself the recipient of the award in 2011.

He has had two books published, 'Mike Chaplin's Expressive Watercolours'[3] and 'The Complete Book of Drawing and Painting'. In 2010, he presented a DVD, The Challenge of Watercolour.


  1. ^ Clare Stewart (19 January 2002). "In search of art that rocks". The Times. 
  2. ^ "10-day art exhibition in town". Kent and Sussex Courier. 18 July 2008. 
  3. ^ "Watercolour Challenge artist exhibits in festive show;". Bath Chronicle. 22 November 2002. 

External links[edit]