The White Swan

By the bike rack

Posted on Posted in commission

This couple had previously enjoyed chatting about all the different Cambridge places in my paintings over a pizza at Tradizioni. So, for Christmas, he asked me to paint their first meeting – by the bike rack at closing time at The White Swan on Mill Road. It was to be a surprise, so the preparatory photos involved us roping in a passing woman to stand in. I needed him to show me exactly their positions. The helpful woman happened to be carrying a bottle of champagne and a light sabre, but I left those out of the final painting. I very much enjoyed the challenge of a night time painting – a first for me.

When I handed over the painting, we agreed not to title it – so she would have to work out herself what it was a painting of. After Christmas, I asked how that had gone…

“She absolutely did ‘get’ it immediately. In fact, she noticed something quite wonderful that I didn’t – the sky in the painting follows an arc which puts a subtle focus on [us] in the street. The moment that [we] met is immensely important to me and I wanted to capture it – you’ve realised it for me in a fashion far more beautiful than I could have imagined.

The beautiful thing about this painting, for me, is that it’s pure and born from emotion. The painting represents our story, painted in the style of an artist with an environmental understanding that could only have developed through years of living in, and painting around a city. And it’s that experience and understanding that you’ve put into this painting which takes us right back to the night it recreates, and all of the emotion that came with it, every time we see it.

So, I truly cannot thank you enough. I will recommend you to anyone in the market for anything similar.” M, Cambridge