The Kew Workshops
In the early 90's the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew took the unprecedented step of inviting Coral G Guest, as a fine artist, to join their staff as Flower Painting tutor in their adult education department. The following eleven years of teaching at Kew granted her the opportunity to offer students her own series of newly developed techniques, specifically adapted and created for the botanical artist.
Coral introduced a new outlook on pictorial composition, by drawing on aspects of art history and her own education in both Eastern and Western traditions. This unique teaching broke away from classical botanical painting and illustration by introducing the understanding of the white background as space. This opposed its western history where a background is viewed as a neutral flat surround to the image, with the subject itself defining the spatial element.
Coral applied landscape painting methods to the study of plants by specifically using her newly developed contemporary mixture of Neutral Tint as a base for toning colours in flower petals, and within aerial perspective.
The Flower Painting workshops and Painting in the Field courses introduced a series of washes combined with new dry brush techniques. This synthesized the purist method of watercolour painting with techniques from formal and abstract painting.
By consistently remaining true to her work as an observational painter, Coral G Guest has established the contemporary fine art aspect of Botanical Art. By offering appropriate diversity within the genre, her work has contributed to the momentum that has carried the genre past the end of the 20th, and into the 21st century.
By 2001, through her individual work with methods, in the form of art works and the teaching at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Coral had earned the reputation as an innovator in the newly emerging botanical art arena.
The techniques, and the many years of teaching that flourished, were set out in Painting Flowers in Watercolour a naturalistic approach published by A&C Black UK and Timber Press USA, pub. 2001.
Through this book, Coral G Guest became a household name within the Botanical Art world by inspiring literally thousands of new and established artists to observe and paint flowering plants.
This methodology advocates the merging of a foundation library of compatible techniques that enables each artist to develop their own unique strategy through experimentation. This is a key aspect to Coral's teaching, which cultivates authenticity in the individual artist.
After ten years in print, this book had fulfilled its original purpose and ceased production. Perhaps not surprisingly, it continues to have a life of its own, as classic text for botanical artists, teachers, and authors of books on flower painting. It remains readily available in the market place, changing hands from student to student, and continuing to rise in price as a collector's book.
In 1997, Coral G Guest embarked upon a series of Master Classes organised by the renown Botanical Art collector, Dr Shirley Sherwood. Dr Sherwood’s patronage increased the scope of the teaching to involve groups of international students.
As part of a core group of artist/teachers, Coral travelled with students to locations in Madeira, Venice and the USA.
The focus of the course work was on studio development combined with visits to unique landscapes and botanical gardens, including the Levada in Madeira and the ancient Botanic Garden in Padua.
The Present Day
In 2005, Coral began to receive questions about her work from teachers and students around the globe, who were studying her paintings and drawings for botanical art projects in schools and universities.
In recognition of the fact that art schools and art tuition can be logistically difficult to access and also expensive, she currently answers a formal series of questions voluntarily and without charge.
Coral's aim has been to inspire the next generation of botanical artists to draw and paint plants, from their own unique environment and the gardens that they grow.
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