From Paint to Swimsuits as seen on The Line – Marysia

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From Paint to Swimsuits as seen on The Line

Artwork by: Rosie McGuinness

Written by: Alexa Hotz

London-based illustrator Rosie McGuinness presents an invigorating portrait of the act of swimming in exceptional swimwear. Her portrait drawings are inspired by the style and attitude of the woman she is drawing. Here Rosie explains the different strokes in classic Marysia silhouettes.


It’s said that breaststroke, the preferred stroke for competitive swim, was, until the midcentury, the only stroke with a required style. It’s exacting, strong, and great for rough water swims. The stroke begins with arms overhead and out in front, then the arms are drawn to the chest to pull through the water. Then, in frog-like fashion, bent knees come together at the chest then straight out behind. Rosie draws like a swimmer: “relaxed and direct with a definite ‘line.’ No fuss on the page.” Fuss-free suits in navy-colored athletic material are suited to the breaststroke, while modern details like a knitted scalloped edge create that definite line.



The freestylist flutters her feet and involves any number of strokes into her swim—breaststroke, butterfly, backstroke, or crawl, most commonly. Freestyle suits glide between structured and unstructured design: a marigold half-halter with a thin strap around the neck and a chalk-colored bandeau with straps that criss-cross or tie around the neck. Rosie, too, draws with structured freestyle, allowing for natural strokes of ink to form. “A drawing should just look right, balanced, and not too contrived,” she says. “A block of color can ground the lines, or sometimes, the lines are fine on their own.”


Backstroke is a stroke for the intrepid, for the buoyant swimmer trusting in her abilities. Half-floating, half-swimming, the swimmer glides on her back through the water coordinating arm movement with assertive legs. The arms alternate out of the water (always thumb first as the other four fingers follow) and up over the head energetically.

A strong back is essential for any stroke where the center of the body acts as a generator for the limbs. Says Rosie: “I want the women I draw to be and look ‘cool,’ to have the right attitude and be strong and at ease.” If strength comes in numbers, this time its one with single-piece swimsuits that dive down the back. Here, back straps outline the shoulder blades and spine for a modern dose of sensuality.



Don’t mistake the butterfly stroke for something lithe. Graceful though it may be, the stroke requires incredible vigor. Like dancing in the water, the butterfly is a balance of strength and timing. The arms sweep back with palms cupped outward to pull the body forward and through the water. One comprehensive, synchronized movement. Two leg strokes with one swooping arm makes up a single cycle of butterfly breaststroke.


Original story by The Line here.

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