Sunday, October 15, 2017

Flower Painting in context

Flower Painting is an aspect of Fine Art, and lives within the domain of the Painter.
For the serious artist, Flower Painting is not only about observation, it is also about content. The description of Flower Painting as decorative, pleasing to the eye, or as having aesthetic concerns, is an aspect of the truth but it is by no means the entire truth.

Flower Painting, as a fine art, holds a message that is filled with purpose. This message depends on the criteria and the intent that the artist has, and the statement they want to make. Their statement may be philosophical, emotional, ecological, spiritual or any number of concepts that relate to the flower image. The priority of the fine artist is to convey this content within the bigger picture of the art world.

For any artist who defines Flower Painting as only being about aesthetic concerns is denying its seriousness and reducing its history. I see this as a dumbing-down not only of the Flower Painter but of the complex reality of the Flower itself. Seeing Flower Painting as only about producing a pleasing image exposes a lack of awareness as to how fine art fuses content or how a message is fused into an art work.

Flowers have often been associated with still life in Western Art, and the flower stayed there for much of the 19th and 20th centuries. Historically, this was not always so. Through the many efforts of contemporary Flower Painters, it is now no longer only associated with either still life, or illustration.
Flower Painting, even as a part of the still life genre, never has been exclusive to making only a pretty picture.


Botanical Art and its Relationship to Flower Painting

I believe that a Botanical Illustrator is a Botanical Artist. I also believe that a Flower Painter is a Botanical Artist. This is to name but two kinds of creative artists who work with plant life.

If an artist declares that their way of working is governed by a particular style of painting that is specifically termed Botanical Art, then by so doing they are denying every other artist who works with plant life the right to call themselves a Botanical Artist.

The problem I am highlighting here, is that Botanical Art is used often used as both an umbrella term as well as a term to describe a specific style of painting. If the definitions here are unclear it is because the Botanical Art world cannot resolve or agree on this issue. Confusion will continue, until an agreement is made as to the definition.   

The problem is sometimes exacerbated when websites and books use the phrase Botanical Art as an umbrella term, and then revert back again to describing Botanical Art as an actual style of painting. Hence, definitions are blurred and confusion diffuses into the bigger picture of the art world.

The terms have not been thought through. For those who have made a decision that it is a style of painting will forever be at logger-heads with those that see Botanical Art as an umbrella term. So where does one go from here?

It is well known that I absolutely adore Scientific Botanical Illustration, and that my understanding of the definition of Botanical Art is broad and comprehensive, and not limited to a particular style of painting. To reiterate: Botanical Art for me is an umbrella term that covers all aspects of creative and artistic work that involves the plant kingdom. In my opinion, Botanical Art is not and never will be a specific style of painting.


Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Charcoal Dust








Space Like Black Velvet Series 2 
The Potential Irradiation of Particles as Tulipa 'Triumph' 
charcoal with watercolour wash on paper
70 x 50 cm
2012
Coral G Guest




THE PRISTINE ARTWORK


Having developed the use of charcoal and watercolour wash in combination, since 1974, I look back upon a long personal and professional history. 

A few years ago, I sought the advice of a kindly and well known charcoal artist on their use of fixative, as I did not generally employ it. I received the most helpful advice, but in the end decided against using the fixative, as it had the effect of turning the dark black of charcoal into more of a satin-like surface, which reflects light. I felt this was not my style. I sustained my original practice, wherein I had already determined a way to create the blackness of the charcoal as an entirely stable mat surface. 

In addition to this, the eternal problem with charcoal is that it will drop dust. After it is framed, the drawing may shed this charcoal powder continuously. This powder then accumulates within the lower inside edge of the frame, between the artwork and the glass. Framed artworks of the experienced charcoal artist tend not to reveal this kind of problem. The management and elimination of this problem, during the creation of the work, is a sign that the artist understands their medium well enough to stop the build up of fall-out dust before it actually happens. 

I am often asked by Collectors to comment on the charcoal techniques of other artists, and I always decline to comment. Discernment is a personal choice, and can be achieved by comparing works by different artists in the way an art historian might do. Artists themselves tend to enjoy talking about their work and often welcome questions about their process. The Collector has the task of reassuring themselves that the work they are purchasing is authentic in its understanding of a technique.


'Charcoal has a nature that is rich in its darkness.

I have named this Space Like Black Velvet.

If this velvety texture of the darkness is not preserved, the surface of the drawing loses the sense of space it creates. Consequently, the image located within the black then appears rather like an object falling backwards into darkness. However, if the mat blackness is maintained, the image has the sense of emerging from a dark space. The discerning eye and mind will always recognise the difference between these two momenta.

I offer my monochrome drawings as a representation of my experimental techniques, when I feel they are developed enough to represent my ideas. I see myself as the the first artist to develop the combination of mixed media to create a dark space for a light image of a flower, which is held and emerges from the darkness of space. 

This is a rare subject to think through,and it is based upon my need to investigate how form relates to, and is inseparable from, space. I understand how my ideas connect to the techniques I have developed. This is not simply a superficial issue, it is a profound awareness that holds a monumental meaning for me. I am aware that this work has been seen by many of my contemporaries, who are perhaps now beginning to look deeper into the meaning of light and dark, possibly by following this lead'. 

Coral G Guest 2015

This quote is the copyright of the artist Coral G Guest and may not be copied or used without permission.


See the Drawings website for more









                       Space Like Black Velvet Series 2 
                    The Irradiation of Particles as Tulipa 'Triumph' 
                    charcoal with watercolour wash on paper
                    90 x 70 cm

                    2012
                    Coral G Guest







Thursday, September 21, 2017

Prints at the Kew Shop


PRINTS from the BRITISH ARTISTS EXHIBITION

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  
1994 
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.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Updating Website Design



Whilst my Flower painting website is offline, I have recently engaged in some discussion with young designers about website design for professional artists. 

Interestingly, the newer, younger professional artists in their 20's tend to renew a website design every two years, some every year. 

The mid-life professional artists, in their 30's - 50's, tend to keep the same website design for 3-5 years.

The senior older professional artists, in their 60's - 70's plus, tend to keep the same website design for 5 years or even longer.

It used to be that an artist was out of step if their CV or recent work was not updated on their site. In more recent years some designers have concluded from analytics that visitors to a site may notice the actual design first, and register an opinion about an artist by how long the site has been there in its current design state.

If an artist's website is more than four years old (considered by some to be past its sell by date) visitors tend to go straight to the blog posts and news, tending to by pass the images of the artists work.

Different designers have different means of accumulating data, and this information has to perhaps be taken with a pinch of salt. However, having asked my Collectors to answer a questionnaire, I can see that regular renewal of a website design does invoke a more positive impression of both the artwork and the artist.




Friday, July 14, 2017

Archive of Drawings - Space Like Black Velvet Series







Blossom Arc in Outer Dark 
Number 1 
2006
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
2008
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  

coralguestdrawings.com







    

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


SKETCH 17 PRIVATE VIEW



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.





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
2009


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
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