Born in Brighton, Reynolds studied at the college of art there from 1951 to 1956 under Alan Sorrell and R T Cowern. He won a Rome Scholarship for engraving from 1962 to 1964. He is represented in the National Portrait Gallery and the Royal Collection, and he was instrumental with the critic Brian Sewell in setting up The Discerning Eye open competition. Michael Holroyd writing in the TLS recalls his sittings for Michael Reynolds with fondness but noted him ‘a maverick, outsider artist’. William Packer in his obituary for Reynolds in the Guardian described him as ‘one of the most naturally gifted painters of his generation’. He was awarded the Ondaatje Prize for Portraiture in 2003.