The Time Line of Minerals in the Leaf of the Winter Green
Carbon, watercolour, and acrylic on canvas
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 The contents of that time have now been archived.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 The pioneering work began as large scale works that superseded the historical diminutive arrangements in botanical painting.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 Program, The Iris Buds andBlooms, The 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 Nimo Carbon and watercolour on paper over board 130 x 90 cm 2009 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