Thursday, September 21, 2017

Prints at the Kew Shop


Sending a huge thank you to all who visited the British Artists Show at the Shirley Sherwood gallery at Kew, with a special acknowledgement to the many visitors with whom I spoke during my weekend visits to the exhibition, when many intriguing conversations ensued regarding Botanical Art in its many forms. 

Prints of work from the show are still on sale in the Shirley Sherwood Gallery shop and also online

All the artists, including myself, who's work has been made into prints, have been delighted with this outcome.

We hope you liked the show, which meant a great deal to all who exhibited there.

Monstera deliciosa  details
Coral G Guest
Available as a print from the Shirley Sherwood gallery shop.

Friday, August 25, 2017

British Botanical Artists at the Shirley Sherwood Gallery Summer 2017

Visiting the show this August, and enjoying being a part of the extravaganza as one of the many visitors attending.  

The British Artists Show at the Shirley Sherwood Gallery, Kew, will run until September 17th 2017. 

The artist, author, and champion blogger, Katherine Tyrrell, has undertaken the herculean task of writing a timeline and review of the show, focusing on the historic content and the artists involved. 

 Read all about it  -  this is an in depth and informed piece of writing! 

Since 1991, Dr Sherwood has commissioned and purchased a number of my artworks. Her collection mostly represents my early and mid career work, and includes some of the pioneering larger pieces. 

A further recent piece was gifted to the Collection in 2015, and is exhibited in the show (see above/right). The show also includes various colour study works.

Much of my work that is present in Dr Sherwood's collection is now being shown on the main wall in the large central gallery, as a part this exhibition.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Art of Letters and Essays

Letters and Essays associated with the Phenology Cabinet of the Incandescent Petal 
Coral G Guest

This post is a response to the many messages I have received requesting information about the work on display this summer, at the British Artists show at Shirley Sherwood Gallery.

This concerns the letter and essay writing aspect of my work, and that of audio recordings.

I first documented my individual artworks, both flower and landscape, as a child travelling with my family. Thereafter, as a fine art student this form of documentation began to evolve. This addition to my work has taken the form of essay and letter writing, email messages, and greeting card correspondence. This data is stored as both document and image, and is a part of the archive of my work.

The letters and essays that I produce are not sold with their connected artwork. They are intentionally given freely and gratis to the owner of the work to complement the event of the painting or drawing. 

The letters and essays highlight how the strategy of the work extends far and wide, beyond the actual artwork itself. Some letters have whimsical overtones and may relate to my childhood love of the plant and places that are painted, and others touch upon the origins and the processes involved in the individual artwork. Overall this documentation is dependent upon, and linked to, the creation of the artwork and describes the origins of the work itself.

The readers of earlier versions of this blog will know that I have been on something of a mission to encourage new artists to document their work from the beginning of their career. If we do not do this ourselves, an art historian or auction house will eventually do it for us. If you have no documentation, the future descriptions and interpretation of your work will be invented.

Most of my works held in the Sherwood Collection has letter, email, and essay documentation, which is now beginning to be shown alongside the work.

For anyone who is just starting to provide letters of their work, and is not quite sure how to proceed, here is a list of subjects that I consider worthy and which may be of use to you. I am focusing here upon the Botanical Art genre, because the Landscape tradition has been active in documentation for generations.

I have developed this diverse list through personal interest. Your choice is always unique to you, and will be a part of your individuality. 

The Essential Letters of an Individual Artwork

The time, date, and inception of an artwork in relation to the subject matter:
This concerns weather patterns, the qualities of the natural light source when painting in the field or studio, and the seasonal relationship to the subject matter. This also can cover the growth pattern for that year, in relation to other years and other themed artworks that are made over several years. The sudden or occasional finding of a plant subject in a wild place or a garden, which leads to the creation of an artwork, is always of great interest. Art viewers want to know if an artwork is planned or spontaneous in its genesis.

The Source of the Plant and its History:
The description of the plant in its natural habitat or cultivated home, offers an extended history of the subject matter. This touches on its concomitant relationship to other plants and the environment. For example, the documentation of the history of a wild flower meadow will be in stark contrast to that of florist's flowers cultivated in the bulb fields of The Netherlands. Whatever the circumstances are, this is what needs to be documented.

For the love for the plant:
For gardeners who grow and tend their own flowers, as I do, and the artists who travel, the source of the plant subject may be documented in the form of a time lapse essay or audio recordings, and serial note books that give in depth data. This provides a practical, observational, or romantic background. It may relate to an ongoing interest in a specific plant, and the reasons for this particular interest. The description of the origin of the artwork in relation to a continuing personal quest - perhaps from as far back as childhood - are all pertinent. Poems, micro essays, and associated cultural connections, and the artists own background, are all relevant to the final outcome of an artwork.

Material Connections:
The listing of materials used and why, the idiosyncratic relationship of the painting process to the subject matter, and the day to day engagement with the art making process, all bring depth to the viewing of the art image. This may include the referral to additional study or sketching works that support the main art work.

All of the above, may be justifiably used as a puzzle of dimensional understanding in the realities that inform the viewer about an artist’s work. It also bequeaths a powerful background testimony of interest. As a lifetime pursuit, letters and essays also offer an individual artist their own archive to reflect upon beyond the point when work is sold. 

A few words or many, a focus upon the romantic aspects of the work, or the simple collection of accurate data are all options. Whatever you choose, it will all be relevant, forming an engaging, and often enchanting aspect to the legacy of your artwork.


Saturday, July 15, 2017


The website has now closed.

Everything moves forward, and it is now time to reconstruct.

The site held the same design since its inception in 2008 - far too long in design terms to maintain a contemporary appearance.

A brand new website for flower paintings and study work will return in due course and will be further documented to enable Collectors to catalogue their artworks in the context of the body of work as a whole. It will also enable the many students who have an interest in my work, to take on a more in depth study.

The new site will become a sister site to the now active drawings website, which shows my current work.  If you would like to reach the studio, before the new botanical site is completed, please do contact us via the contact page on the drawings website.

The drawings site holds flower and petal drawings, which are outside the conventional Botanical Art genre. These works represent my ongoing commitment to representing the natural world in natural light, and aims to explain levels of reality that go beyond the actual physical appearance of the mineral and plant kingdoms.

Thank you to all and everyone who visited the first website over the years, to all who purchased works of art, and to the many students and artists who have written to me about the on going tradition of precision and study work.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Archive of Drawings - Space Like Black Velvet Series

Blossom Arc in Outer Dark 
Number 1 
Space Like Black Velvet Series 2006-10

carbon charcoal and watercolour wash on paper
150 x 130 cm

Each work in the Space Like Black Velvet Series uses charcoal with watercolour. 

I began working with this as a mixed media experiment, in 1974. 
It was for the development of this technique that I won the Chelsea College of Art Drawing Prize, as a fine art degree student in 1975.

This work is not so much about the tradition of the technique itself, but how it has come to be used in a brand new way. As all artists know, the majority of techniques used for drawing are not new. Rather it is how and why the techniques are put together that holds the potential for something completely new.  

This is a mixed media technique, and is often inappropriately associated with, and labelled as, the chiaroscuro. As all  art historians know, this is not when it actually originated, nor how it first came into use as a methodology.

In addition, the imagery of flowers within a dark background - using any kind of medium or technique - is by no means original, because this too has a history. 

The originality of this particular work lies in how the mixed media technique is united with the imagery. 

The combination of the subject matter with the technique was in itself a unique idea. I brought the two together as a student, and its development can be traced back through my archive to 1975.

In this Series, the work represents a dark space for a light image of a flower. This is not simply a formal concern, rather it holds an ongoing idea and a wish to develop the central image as a light object, which is held within and emerges from, the darkness of space. This is the mystery and the spirit of the work - when the technique fuses with the subject matter in a spectacular way.

Daisy Arc in Outer Dark
Number 2
Space Like Black Velvet Series 2006-10

carbon charcoal and watercolour wash on paper
150 x 130 cm

Coral G Guest
Private Collection

Copyright Notice for this Blog
All Rights Reserved.
All works of art and artist's written material contained in this blog are the copyright of Coral G Guest and associated copyright holders. It is prohibited to copy, reproduce, or other wise use the artist's visual and written material without specific written consent of the copyright holders. Please apply for permission to the contact page of Coral Guest's Website

Thursday, April 27, 2017

SKETCH OPEN PRIZE 2017 - selected!

A 32 x 42 cm sketch book entitled Iceland - Light into Dark by Coral G Guest has been selected as one of the 100 sketchbooks to be shown for the SKETCH OPEN DRAWING PRIZE 2017. This is a travel sketch book containing monochrome drawings using mixed media, including brush drawings in water colour and body colour, charcoal and lead.
The SKETCH OPEN is the UK’s only art prize for artist’s sketchbooks with a dedicated touring sketchbook exhibition. The tour will begin by opening at the Rabley drawing Centre on 21st May 2017, and continue around the UK until 15th December 2017.

The competition and touring exhibition SKETCH, aims to promote the diversity and importance of drawing and the role of the sketchbook in contemporary creative practice. SKETCH OPEN 2017

 ‘The handling of a sketchbook takes us to the heart of the space inhabited by the artist - The turning of a page brings a flow of ideas: fragments of images to come, references to places visited, experiences absorbed and thoughts provoked. It is a unique and privileged position; the prospect excites and the time spent rewards.’ Meryl Setchel Ainslie


   Beneath the waterfall - Seljalandsfoss SE Iceland 
   32 x 42 cm
   watercolour, chalk, and graphite on paper


I arrived at the Private View of the SKETCH 17 show to find the gallery crowded, and yet the space was filled with an intense silence and an atmosphere of heightened concentration. It was really the strangest and most exciting private view that I had encountered for many a year. The sketch books were being observed with the greatest of respect by those present, all wearing archival gloves, and looking intently upon the many books. The Rabley Drawing Centre has an air of isolation that is conducive to the work they exhibit - an extraordinary gallery space in the midst of the beautiful Wiltshire countryside, which has been deservedly successful. Each book on show holds a unique and disparate approach to drawing that is inspiring and thought provoking.

Here are some pictures from the preview of the show:

Rapt in concentration - a view of some of the attendees of the SKETCH 17 private view

A glimpse of some of the books on show

All books exhibited are numbered on the cover 
Those who the visit in person can find my book with the number 29
The above double page show a study of basalt rock (left) from the waterfalls at Hjalpafoss in the Hekla lava plane in SE Iceland.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Archive Images - Space Like Black Velvet Series

Blossom Arc in Outer Dark
Number One 

Space Like Black Velvet Series 2006-10

Carbon and charcoal over watercolour on paper 
150 x 150 cm
Private Collection

The medium of the above drawing is charcoal with watercolour, which I began developing in 1974. Having used the carbon over washes in both monochrome and colour, it was for the development of this technique that I won the Chelsea College of Art Drawing Prize, as a fine art degree student in 1975.

As all art historians know, techniques for drawing are not new, but how the techniques are put together may be completely renewable in each age. This work is not so much about the age of the technique itself, but how it has come to be used in a brand new way. This technique is often associated with the chiaroscuro of the Italian Renaissance. However, this is not when it actually originated, or how it first came into use as a methodology or a technique.

The imagery of flowers within a dark background is not original to my way of working, this too has a history. The originality of the work lies in uniting this mixed media technique with this kind of imagery.

This development can be traced back through my archive to 1975.

As the first artist to use this combination of mixed media to create a dark space for a light image of a flower, the ongoing idea has been to develop the central image as a light object which is held within, and emerges from, the darkness of space.

Such monochrome drawings represent one creative timeline in my experimental drawing work, and is based upon the need to investigate how form relates and is inseparable from space.

Daisy Arc in Outer Dark
Number Two 

From the Space Like Black Velvet Series 2006-10

Carbon and charcoal over watercolour on paper 
150 x 150 cm
Private Collection

All Rights Reserved. All works of art and artist's written material contained in this blog are the copyright of Coral G Guest and associated copyright holders. It is prohibited to copy, reproduce, pin, or otherwise use the works of art or artist's written material, without the specific written consent of the artist and/or associated copyright holders. 

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Leafing Through the Archive 1

The Photosynthesis Series Number 1
The Time Line of Minerals in the Leaf of the Winter Green
Carbon, watercolour, and acrylic on canvas
100x130 cm

copyright Coral Guest 

This blog first opened in 2005 and took a rest in 2016. The contents of that time have now been archived. The blog showcased my particular approach to painting and drawing, and due to the unanticipated and phenomenal demand from those who have an interest in the work, it has today reopened. This blog will now revisit some examples from my body of work that to date has spanned a distance of more than 40 years.

Many pieces have remained publicly unseen, to protect them from plagiarism and copyists. If you should like to reproduce or copy an image or text and claim it as your own, please request permission to use the idea.

The focus of my work has been upon paintings and drawings of mineral life (landscapes) and flora, and abstract representations of unseen aspects of experience, all of which are dominated by the interpretation of light on many levels. The botanical paintings and drawings, have formed a substantial aspect to this main body of work, both as spontaneous and commissioned output. Commissioned work has generally occupied approximately 30 percent of my overall body of work.  

The insurgence of the various aspects of Flower Painting in the last 20 years has become something to be explored within the context of the current climate of interest. It is perhaps inappropriate for me to label myself as a Botanical Artist, as my works generally extend far and beyond plant life into other areas of natural phenomena. However, aspects of my body of work live under the banner of Botanical Art and are specifically and appropriately placed there for clear and concise reasons. 

I am more intentionally placed under the banner of Botanical Art as one who has served its needs throughout my working life as a painter, writer, and lecturer. The pioneering work began as large scale works that superseded the historical diminutive arrangements in botanical painting. This enabled others to do likewise and create larger more confident artworks. Opening this gateway was something that came from my training as an abstract painter. 

From the early 1970's this contribution of developed techniques, lectures, teachings, and interviews as well as the body of work itself, have been absorbed, via my book, by teachers and artists. My understanding of this as a painter and draughtswoman, is that such works exist within the bigger picture of the art world and are more correctly understood as an aspect of it rather than an isolated specialist field.

Several of my explored themes have featured here over the years, and it is these that the blog will now revisit, viewing previously unseen photographs that show it placed in a number of contexts that offer a truer sense of its scale and meaning.

The large size works began with a Cosmological Cuttle Fish that was painted five feet in height in 1973. This was the point at which the works ceased to use frames, liberating the image and freeing the work to be placed in a variety of contexts.

The first works to be revisited here are the Photosynthesis Series that initially appeared on this blog in 2005, showing paintings of leaves and representing the colour green.

The other requested themes to be included, will be the Wish Fulfilling Water Lily Series of carbon drawings, which is still ongoing. This is focused upon spontaneous carbon studies of the Nymphaea, and was inspired by a visit to Monet’s Garden at Giverny in 1995. This Series has been requested by some of the lovely and remarkable students who accompanied me there on my visit to that glorious garden.

Other Series that have been requested are The Peony Bud ProgramThe Iris Buds and BloomsThe Flora of the White Light Series, and the more recent Petal Ascending and Descending.

Some works can also be seen on my website for drawings I can be contacted through this site.


The Photosynthesis Series 
Number 2

Carbon and watercolour on paper over board
130 x 90 cm

copyright Coral Guest  

There is a well known story of the how the late Rory McEwen picked up a leaf from the street near his home, took it back to the studio, and painted a picture of it. 
It is often commented upon that the ravaged appearance of his chosen leaf had touched him and mirrored his own inner self at that time. The corresponding focus upon the dead and dying leaves that he was fascinated by, are thought by some to also be a message.

The Collector who commissioned the above artwork Nimo, had been fascinated by the story of the found leaf, particularly as it is now very much a cliche amongst botanical painters. this particular leaf had landed in his garden as the result of a storm. Not knowing the name of the leaf, nor where it came from, he brought it to me and commissioned this large study. 

I accepted the commission because the leaf was very much alive and not dead or diseased, but because it was , like the Collector himself, very much alive. The leaf, at the moment of collection was sensibly placed in an orchid fial and fed with a plant solution. It lived for a further three weeks in a cool environment for the duration of the artwork, on its demise it was placed gently upon the compost heap.

The bringer of this leaf felt its appearance reflected his own mind set of the time, in a vulnerable and sensitive way it mirrored his journey through an inner storm to the arrival at a place of belonging. The resulting artwork is now sometimes hung vertically, sometimes horizontally, and sometimes placed on the ground as the centre-piece of a room. This collaborative work, supported my intent to create work without frames, by passing what is conventionally used. 

Salanova - Red Butterhead Lettuce
Life-size on A1 Paper
Watercolour on Paper 2012
by Coral Guest
copyright Coral Guest