Lilium lancifolium 'Flore Pleno'  detail watercolour on paper  1985

Lilium lancifolium 'Flore Pleno'
watercolour on paper




Born and raised in suburban north-west London, surrounded by roses, irises, lilies, daisies, fruit trees, and perfectly manicured lawns.
Visits the wild flower meadows of the Swiss Alps at three years of age and at four years old makes her first visit to the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew. Spends summer holidays in Cornwall. Journeys with her family to visit the Cedars of Lebanon, at the age of twelve. Walks through the peony garden at the Musée Rodin in Paris at the age of thirteen, and is mesmerized by the magenta hues. Sells her first flower painting at the age of fourteen and attends classes at Harrow School of Art, whilst still at school.


Studies anatomical drawing and perspective formulas with Ken Howard and Margaret Priest, as a Foundation Student at Harrow School of Art. Practices the art of natural form drawing in monochrome and uses rapid line and tonal drawing to create scenes of aerial perspective.  Practices printmaking on stone lithography. Works in Hamilton's paint brush factory during the summer of '74.


Studies Fine Art (Painting) at Chelsea College of Art and Design (London University). Works with abstraction and colour theory. Develops an interest in the effects of cool daylight upon colour in the natural world. Tutored in painting by Norman Blamey, Frederick Brill, Ken Kiff, and Sean Scully. Studies additive and subtractive colour mixing and theory with Anne Rees-Mogg.  Studies art history with Chris Yetton. Travels to Ghent to research her thesis on the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb by Jan and Hubert Van Eyck and sees the medieval Books of Hours for the first time. 
Works during evenings and weekends as a gallery attendant at the Institute of Contemporary Art, in London.  Works as exhibition assistant to Joseph Beuys during his 1974 Art into Society show at the ICA.


Receives the prestigious Chelsea Drawing Prize in her first year at Chelsea, for the development of mixed media techniques in large scale monochrome works. Cultivates the notion of space in the pictorial background and moves beyond the flat background concept.



Receives the Chelsea Travel Scholarship for her Chelsea degree show. 


Exhibits monochrome installation documentation at the Young Contemporaries show in the Acme gallery London. Decides thereafter to not follow the art of Conceptualism, but to draw and paint directly from life.


Declines a post-graduate year at Chelsea, and instead travels to the Seitai-ji Temple in Yamanashi Prefecture in Japan, to practice large brush calligraphy, as an enclosed student. Travels to the Negano and the Japanese Alps, and climbs Mount Fuji, to further observe alpine flora and aerial perspective in landscape. Visits the Ueno Museum in Tokyo to view a landmark show of historic Japanese monochrome works.  


Works on landscape and flower painting in London, using studies made on field trips across Honshu, Japan. Observes the unique cultivation of the hybrid chrysanthemum as the national flower of Japan. Begins to write micro essays on colour and the experience of beauty within the natural world.


Returns to the to the UK, to follow Turner’s footsteps along the Thames, and the south coast of England. Develops watercolour and drawing techniques for flower painting, in an east London studio. Adapts classical purist methods from the English landscape tradition to further the art of flower painting. Continues to build a body of work during daylight hours. Develops techniques, using a multi layered combination of washes and dry brush work, specifically created to depict the surface textures of petals in daylight.

Teaches crafts, cookery, and mindfulness at Centre Play in Stepney Green - a pilot scheme, created for children whose parents were in the work place at night. Volunteers as tree planter, and community garden builder, for the London based British Trust for Conservation Volunteers, across the city and the home counties.


In 1984, and again in I986, Coral Guest becomes one of the youngest artists to achieve a Royal Horticultural Society Gold Medal, for her Paintings of Flowers.


Exhibits her first solo show of botanic work in 1985, at the Oliver Swann Gallery in Knightsbridge, London. Takes a bicycle journey around the Ring of Kerry in Eire, which inspires an in-depth investigation into the colour green.


Shows at the 6th International Exhibition of Botanical Art at the Hunt Botanical Institute. Holds her second solo exhibition at the Oliver Swann Gallery. 


Undertakes a year of private study, observing Turner’s sketch books and colour beginnings, following the opening of the Clore Gallery at Tate Britain in 1987. Follows Turner's footsteps across north Yorkshire. Writes essays to accompany larger pieces of work and documents journeys with essays and sketchbooks.

Completes her methodology for naturalistic Flower Painting, including the Colour Study and further innovation in composition.

Travels to China in 1988, to view aerial perspective, treks to Elephant Bathing Pool on Mount Emei.

Exhibits in a solo show at the H V Allinson gallery, New York in 1990.


Invited by Brinsley Burbidge and Laura Giuffrida, to become Flower Painting tutor at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew. Develops a new formula for a Neutral Tint mixture, specifically for the Flower Painter.


Travels extensively in The Netherlands and cycles through bulb fields to study the seasonal colours of commercially grown tulips and other cultivated bulbs. Visits the Keukenhof Gardens in Lisse, to observe  the colourings of tulips in the variable atmosphere of the southern Netherlandish light.

Begins work on the study of white flowers in white and black space. Develops large scale work, in watercolour, oil, and charcoal. 

Travels to Monet's garden at Giverny in France, with a focus upon the colour green as a continuing preoccupation. Composes essays on the colours green and white.

Exhibits work at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, for the first time in 1994, in a group show. Meets the botanical art collector Dr Shirley Sherwood.


Begins a series of global Master Classes for Dr Shirley Sherwood, as one of a core group of artists. Lectures firstly in Madeira, and Venice and the USA. Travels through the landscape with students.  Dr Sherwood’s commitment to collecting Botanical Art on a global scale, and the growing interest from professional artists and new students, heralds an international renaissance in Botanical Art.

Work begins on a new book containing her developed techniques and methods for flower painting that is taught both at Kew and for the Masterclasses.

Coral makes an appearance on the London Out and About program for program for BBC1 as part of their visit to RBG Kew. 

From 1997 and continuing, Coral's work is shown globally as part of the Shirley Sherwood Collection of Botanical Art, which presently holds 19 of her works. As part of this collection, her work is exhibited at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, the Yasuda Kasai Gallery in Tokyo, Kirstenbosch Botanic Garden in South Africa, the Marciana Library in Venice, the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, the Denver Botanic Garden, the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, the Seiji Togo Museum in Tokyo, the Museo Graphica in Milano, and the Singapore Botanic Gardens.


Research into the painting of the white flower continues. In 2000, the Royal Horticultural Society commissions a life-size precision work of Lilium regale for the contemporary collection of work in the Lindley Library. This is accompanied by two associated colour studies. 

In 2001, Painting Flowers in Watercolour - A Naturalistic Approach (A&C Black in the UK and Timber Press in the USA) is published.  An instant success, the book brings new and traditional techniques within the reach of literally thousands of new botanical artists.

Commissioned works are completed in collaboration with several collectors of Botanical and Landscape Art, focusing on both flower and landscape explorations. 


Begins to collect phenological data on a collection of herbaceous peonies grown in her home garden in England. Composes essays on the colour variations of the hues found in French peonies. Begins to accumulate data on weather patterns affecting the colour and blooming of peonies.


Is invited by Ceri Sherlock to contribute to the BBC4 television series Painting Flowers, introduced by Monty Don, and is the only living flower painter to appear on the episode featuring the white lily.  Thereafter, an interview for Tate Modern on Monet’s water lilies is given for the audio guide to the show that is exhibited on the 3rd floor.

The collection of herbaceous peonies is developed to represent the magenta cultivars from nineteenth century France. Phenological data on these peonies begins to be recorded. The colour magenta is further explored through colour study works of the peony.

In 2005, the RHS commissioned work of the Lilium regale, and its associated study works, are exhibited in the exhibition entitled Treasures from the Royal Horticultural Society, in the Ueno Museum in Tokyo.


Begins working with the newly available pieces of five feet high, 600gsm watercolour paper. Heavier in weight than the existing paper on rolls, and therefore more stable, this paper offers the opportunity to paint life size works of tall herbaceous perennials of Lily and Iris. These works depict the entire inflorescence, stem, and root systems, on a singular piece of paper. This moves the history of flower painting onward from the historic artists who were obligated to either join several pieces of paper together, or cut the specimen in half to include the image on one smaller piece of paper. Work continues on monochrome works, developing large and life size pieces of flora upon black space using mixed media in monochrome.

In 2006, work begins on the project entitled The Phenology Cabinet of the Incandescent Petal. recording annual alterations in a collection of magenta coloured peonies. Works with watercolour, oil and acrylic on study works and finished pieces.

Makes her first visit to Iceland and develops landscape drawings based on the mineral life and weather patterns observed during the 24-hour summer daylight. 

In 2008, exhibits work at the inaugural show at the new Shirley Sherwood Botanical Art Gallery at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, designed by Walters and Cohen.


Composes micro essays based on the colour magenta and black. Balances a focus on spontaneous drawing with large scale precision paintings of the magenta peonies during June and July each year. Shows the work as garden installation, each year. 

Studies glacial formed landscape in Wales, creates work using gold leaf, charcoal and black ink. 


Completes the work entitled The Phenology Cabinet of the Incandescent Petal. recording annual alterations in a collection of magenta coloured peonies from nineteenth century France. The work is shown at the Jonathan Cooper Gallery in Chelsea and is thereafter gifted to the Shirley Sherwood Collection. Launches a new Drawings website showing monochrome drawings of flora and landscape derived from observational sketches. 


In 2017, a new retrospective of British Artists at the Shirley Sherwood Gallery Kew, includes selected work as a mini retrospective of Coral's work in the central gallery. Colour Study works - now considered to be artworks in their own right - are shown with larger precision paintings. Works with the colour black as a spatial background, and the colour white as a radiant form. Translates unproven realities into monochrome drawings, documented with micro essay work. Is selected for the SKETCH exhibition/competition at the Rabley Drawing Centre, Wiltshire. 


Newly commissioned projects are developed for release in late 2019. Coral begins work on her Legacy Archive that spans over 40 years of work as painter, draughtswoman, writer and teacher.

Sorbus aucuparia - Battersea Park, London watercolour on paper 1:1 1991

Sorbus aucuparia - Battersea Park, London
watercolour on paper 1:1


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