Art, life and whimsy

The bridal veil

The most beautiful thing in nature is mist.

And the most beautiful woman I have ever seen, was on her wedding day. The vision of Anne coming down the staircase at Bosky Dell remains with me.


Timbre. Crayon on paper. 2015

Mist is beautiful, not as a poetic convention but as a fact, because it veils detail. So the bridal veil. It reveals even as it hides, but with the feeling of mystery. No detail, just the structures. Mist paints, as does the veil. Atmosphere destroys detail, and detail destroys atmosphere. Detail or atmosphere. In our art, we have to make our choice and stick with it.

In the world of Eros, of literature and movies and art, we love the suggestive and dislike the explicit. Suggestive writing connects our imagination, and make us creative partners in building the scene.

A painting will never again be as beautiful as in its colour beginning.

I love weddings because I never get to see a woman as beautiful as a bride (including my own bride)

Part of the beauty of the bride lies in her fulfilment and joy, but a large part of it is in the wedding dress, Victorian couture in our modern time.

Why is it that with all our materialistic attitudes, our brides are still attired in Victorian splendour? One reason only. These dresses are the most beautiful garments ever created, at least within our experience.

This thought took me to those magnificent sculptures from ancient Greece, is it not possible, even likely, that those form enhancing garments could have been crafted in chiffons and voiles? I can tell that the drapes on the caryatids of the Parthenon were revealing, more than hiding. The living caryatids were priestesses of Artemis

Greek garments, the peplos and the chiton, are designed to enhance the beauty of the female form. Not all women in ancient Greece would have been so perfect, so youthful, so sensual… but the priestesses in the temples of Venus, the Vestal virgins, the inspiration of the artists of the age… they for sure would have demonstrated the perfection of the female form, in Plato’s ideal proportion.

Like the dresses of our time, garments can be created in a variety of fabrics, warm for winter and cool for summer. The peplos was a single large rectangle of fabric, loosely and cunningly draped around the body, open on one side. Some small ceramic sculptures which have come down to us from the city of Tanagra, where they were found by archaeologists, display a most sophisticated approach to colour harmony.

What a time to be alive! What a vision! and what a subject for the figure artist!

Phidias celebrated it, and Praxiteles, and Apelles. As for me, I am off to look for some chiffon.

The Saturday demo is back

On Saturday morning 2nd May, at 9:30 at the Saveur Restaurant on the Simonstown waterfront, I shall do an oil painting demo, an alla prima portrait study in oils.

The venue is on the middle level of the Simonstown Waterfront by the jetty.

R60 includes a cup of coffee from Saveur.

Timbre. The crisp quality of a line, or the sensual texture of a voice.

There is beauty in line, in its elegance, it power, its accuracy. Every element in drawing and in painting has a corresponding musical quality, and for line the quality is that of the melody line, the artist striving for the perfect linework of a solo violin.

I taught a drawing workshop this week, and one of my primary aims was to concentrate on a line of highest purity.

The artist needs to feel the grip of the paper on the charcoal and the way that the charcoal crumbles and breaks and binds to the surface. This pure abstract beauty communicates directly to the subconscious, independent of the subject or content of the picture.

This is the elusive quality of “timbre”, the sound of a fine voice, that special resonance of the Argentinian tango. It is the element of sensuality, of seduction, so vital the expression of the romantic/erotic in figure painting and drawing.

Lose your heart and find your soul.
12 days in Venice. 19 to 31 October 2015.

With limited places left, contact me now for the experience of a lifetime. 12 days of painting from dawn to dusk, and losing yourself in the most beautiful city in the world.

19 to 31 October 2015. 12 days painting with Ryno Swart.
1200 Euro sharing and 1450 Euro for a single room.

Book by emailing Ryno or by phoning 021 786 3975.

Find my art.

View my work at and at my favourite galleries.


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