Old Olive - design suggestions ?

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Re: Old Olive - design suggestions ?

Post  Robert Steven on Fri May 25, 2012 4:29 am

theBalance wrote:
As you write in your books a tree is always in a cycle : juvenile - > mature -> some event - >transformation process - > mature ( again )
A tree in nature that has gone via transformation process and “found” is new “mature” shape – do have branches that exit from the trunk up, but then start descending ( because of the weight of the branches& leaves that bends it over time )...

If I only clip and grow then the branches will only go up & to the side but never down ( well maybe if I will not prune for 10 years ) and the tree will remain in “transformation” and will not reach the new transformed & balanced mature shape
So i’m confused,

You are confused because you mix up between real large tree in nature and bonsai art. All the bonsai design concept related to plant physiology and plant morphology I write in my book are about natural phenomena, about what happens in nature with the large trees. The essense of bonsai art is "a mature tree of nature in miniature size planted in pot with artistic presentation" (so it is a misperseption if one think bonsai is simply plant in pot); so the task of bonsai artist is to simulate the natural phenomena using the bonsai material as medium, with all the artistic means. The real natural phenomena, the rules of plant morphology does not happen in the pot, but it is simulated by us using the same concept.

For example..look at this picture...



The idea of this creation is to depict a large ficus tree growing on the lake side. The reason why it grows leaning to the left side because the roots system is growing to the left for the water source, then all the growing direction is following the roots' growing direction.
This is a basic plant physiology used in bonsai design, but this in fact does not happen in this container because there is no water on the left side and the roots do not grow to the left. This this the reason why plant physiology, plant morphology and the tree transformation concept are so important in the good bonsai design process. Without it, the bonsai will never talk, will never be outstanding, will never be an art...
When you can listen the unspoken voice from your bonsai, then you have succeed....
It sounds bullshit, but that's all about art. Some may say.."Why bother me ? I can simply do what I like with my taste, the most important thing is I am happy...". Ofcourse you can, it might be a nice craft, but certainly not an art. But if one wants to go deep into the art to create good bonsai, he/she can not be ignorant...

Good luck Alon....

Robert Steven
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Re: Old Olive - design suggestions ?

Post  cosmos on Fri May 25, 2012 2:31 pm

Hi Robert
I like very much your two virtuals; of the two I like the cascade the most. I am intrigued at the way you interpret bonsai; it is not classical; it is not stereotyped. I think that interpreting prebonsai material your way might even mean less of a headache to keep with the classical rules (like forming immaculate foliage pads etc). But I also think that your path might not be appreciated by all, especially those who are not willing to let go of what have been taught throughout the years in bonsai discipline. I am not one of them and your words have broadened my mind. I just love all types of artistic interpretations, be they classical or unconventional. Yours is surely artistic and factual and beautiful.

Cosmos

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Re: Old Olive - design suggestions ?

Post  Robert Steven on Fri May 25, 2012 2:55 pm

Hi Cosmos,

Thanks. If we agree that bonsai is an art form, then how can an art has rules ? The only rule in art is the easthetic principles.
In fact, none of bonsai books ever told us there were rules, it was "us" who have inteprated the basic guidance as rules and the misperceiption has been blindly tought and followed...then many people are trapped inside the death circle. Some are reluctant to accept because they are among those who has been teaching the "rules", some are worried with all their bonsai collection done with the rules..some even worst..for business reason because they can not sell for something considered as against the rules. This is the very fact !

On top of that, there are also who are ignorant about the aesthetic because in fact, applying good easthetic concept into a creation is much more difficult than follow the rules in technical aspects. One need the intelectuality to do so... Bonsai, like other art forms, in fact is a multi-disciplines science, including the one in our heart and not in our head.

I have no problem with the "rules", I have no problem with those who are practicing the classic bonsai art. If they know why the rules tell them, then they will agree with my concept because all the "rules" in bonsai are simply derived from either aesthetic principles or horticultural clues. The problem is with who just simply swallow the rules without digesting what is inside the rules. Believe me, there is nothing wrong with the "rules", but there are reason behind it, and that's all about art and the plant medium...


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Re: Old Olive - design suggestions ?

Post  cosmos on Fri May 25, 2012 3:03 pm

By all means, correct me if I am wrong. Your picture conveys to me a very dramatic temporal story. The hallowed trunk is the result of natural factors where the tree lives e.g. fungal infection causing rot, comes to mind. The top of the tree also suffered an incident in the tree's life, but the tree struggled against all odds and survived. It also tells me that right now the tree is passing through a better time period. The latter is deduced from the top 'heavy' branch which is showing relatively new growth, almost creating a 'reverse taper' swelling (a physiological explanation might be the storage of products of photosynthesis).

Cosmos




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Re: Old Olive - design suggestions ?

Post  Poink88 on Fri May 25, 2012 3:06 pm

Robert Steven wrote:Hi Cosmos,

Thanks. If we agree that bonsai is an art form, then how can an art has rules ? The only rule in art is the easthetic principles.
In fact, none of bonsai books ever told us there were rules, it was "us" who have inteprated the basic guidance as rules and the misperceiption has been blindly tought and followed...then many people are trapped inside the death circle. Some are reluctant to accept because they are among those who has been teaching the "rules", some are worried with all their bonsai collection done with the rules..some even worst..for business reason because they can not sell for something considered as against the rules. This is the very fact !

On top of that, there are also who are ignorant about the aesthetic because in fact, applying good easthetic concept into a creation is much more difficult than follow the rules in technical aspects. One need the intelectuality to do so... Bonsai, like other art forms, in fact is a multi-disciplines science, including the one in our heart and not in our head.

I have no problem with the "rules", I have no problem with those who are practicing the classic bonsai art. If they know why the rules tell them, then they will agree with my concept because all the "rules" in bonsai are simply derived from either aesthetic principles or horticultural clues. The problem is with who just simply swallow the rules without digesting what is inside the rules. Believe me, there is nothing wrong with the "rules", but there are reason behind it, and that's all about art and the plant medium...

Steven.

WOW...this is something I always believed in and you worded it perfectly. cheers thumbs up

You are my new HERO now!!! ThumbsUp LOL

Poink88
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Re: Old Olive - design suggestions ?

Post  Robert Steven on Fri May 25, 2012 3:15 pm

Cosmos,

You are absolutely correct. If you master the concept and can apply into your creation in good relevancy, then you don't need to describe the chronicle, the tree will talk for itself, let the viewer interprate the romance. The most important thing here is we should apply the technical aspect in consistence and relevance, integrated with the thematic message and the artistic nuance. For instance, if we want to create a bonsai design to show a big tree that grows on a river bank, then we should technically do so in logical sense. How? ofcourse with the knowledge of plant physiology and plant morphology...

A good visual art will make the viewer look, not only see; as for good music, it will make us listen and not only hear....

Thanks Poink... Very Happy

Robert Steven
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Re: Old Olive - design suggestions ?

Post  cosmos on Fri May 25, 2012 6:59 pm

Yes Robert

There is more than meets the eye
when one looks at a bonsai;
there spaces between branches
for the 'little birds to fly'.

Indeed, a good bonsai should trigger one's artistic imagination.

Cosmos

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Re: Old Olive - design suggestions ?

Post  theBalance on Sat May 26, 2012 9:19 pm

Hi Robert,

I have read your answers and took my time -> to really understand them.

What I now realize is that design process has 2 main stages :
Stage 1 – “understand” the tree, evaluate the different design options, and choose the direction we will design accordingly – the direction that provide us with the adequate features that will allow us to turn the material into a unique and evocating bonsai. This is where our imagination plays the leading role…
Stage 2 – using variety of technique we turn the very Raw material into a beautiful piece of art that represents an old tree in nature with a life story, according to the chosen direction using the principles of design ( balance, movement, contrast,..) – this is where our experience & logic are playing the leading part.

The tricky part Shocked , is that the more we choose an unusual direction on stage 1 Twisted Evil , the more the creation has the potential to be more dramatic and more interesting cheers BUT it will also require more expertise in stage 2 to make this creation a reliable and beautiful image of an old tree in nature pale !

What I’ve realized is that since my current level of expertise in “stage 2” techniques is not sufficient ( for example in dealing with areas that are problematic for me in front C ), I didn’t let my imagination run free with the tree true potential and have chosen to play “safe” on stage 1 - > meaning to choose a front and a position and a design that it will be easy for me to convey an image of “real” miniature tree - > this is why I chose a more “formal” tree design.

also, in comparison to the other design options, the design I have chosen requires branches to be positioned in places that most likely were not be there in nature - > meaning it is less following what "the tree tells me". more then this in my design the living tree is not the focal point...and most of the "creation" is just dead wood...and this is not bonsai Very Happy

Robert – I am most intrigue to know your opinion on the above Embarassed
10x,
alon

theBalance
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Re: Old Olive - design suggestions ?

Post  Robert Steven on Sun May 27, 2012 2:14 am

Alon,

Now you get the points. You are absolutely correct, the creativity and the technical aspects should go side by side; creativity and imagination can be trained. Don't be discourage, the only way to improve our level is by practice and practice and practice...I was going through the same process....

I can fully understand your "safe" option, because indeed, it is much easier to make "correct" bonsai according to the "rules" than to make "beautiful" bonsai. At least, we can say "I have done it correctly" according to the "check-list" and lots of people still practicing this. They treat all the material the same way and very prototype.
It needs a process..and the time can only come if we are willing to open our mind for new perspective.

Good luck, my friend, have a wonderful week-ends....

Robert Steven
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Re: Old Olive - design suggestions ?

Post  theBalance on Sun May 27, 2012 5:34 am

Robert,
I am honored to be your friend !

If I may, I have 3 more questions regarding this discussion :

Question 1 :
In your answers you wrote :
“The ramification structure of broad leaves tree is not suppose to be set like junipers by bending here and there; if you do that, it is camouflage, then it will never be a good bonsai”
And
“you need to train the ramification structure with clip-and-grow technique so that they look more natural and like an old tree”
Are you suggesting that for broad leaves trees we should only use clip-and-grow ? and never use wire and bending ? can we really succeed in :” simulate the natural phenomena using the bonsai material as medium” – without bending the branches using wire ?

Question 2 :
Since a bonsai creation involves a lot of illusions ( to create perspective and so on ), does this fact suggest that bonsai will have only one front ? or can we design bonsai that will look good from all fronts ?

Question 3 :
You wrote :” I am not searching for perfection, defective and ugliness is a potential fact for beauty. This sound absurd ? yes, that's the oriental art..we are searching for the inner beauty of nature, not the visible definition” – I do understand what you mean by “inner beuty of nature”, I’ve seen it in any trip in nature...but is this the only option for creating avocating bonsai ? it’s like for some a picture of an old woman from a distant village in china is avocating and for some a picture of a young beautiful woman model is avocating – isn’t it a matter of culture and personal taste ?

10x!
alon

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Re: Old Olive - design suggestions ?

Post  Robert Steven on Sun May 27, 2012 6:02 pm

Hi Alon,

1. You are asking a very technical question. The point is not on using wire or not, but your understanding about the ideal ramification structure of broad leaves tree (deciduous tree). Once you know what ideal ramification of deciduous tree is, then with your basic knowledge of bonsai shaping plus the cip-and-grow technique, you know when and where you need wire and when you don't. Wire is simply a tool for shaping your bonsai, and in the case of deciduos tree, it's mostly used only for forming the direction or forming certain movement. It's nothing to do with the "natural phnomena", sometime clip-and-grow technique also use wire. In the past time when bonsai wire was not available, the Chinese used palm fibres rope for shaping their bonsai, deciduous tree as well as the conifers.

2. Bonsai is a 3-D object, but we design and set a certain "viewing angle" which we consider as the best angle for the viewer to look at, then we call it the "front"..which many people have misperceived the meaning of "front". "Front" in bonsai, as other visual art object (photography etc) is simply the viewing angle, not the literary meaning of "front" as you pose for your passport photo.
Ofcourse it's good if you can design your bonsai which look good from different angles, but normally there will be one best angle to look at..and in visual arts, there are hierarchies on viewing angles. In this case, it's all about "composition" of the design.
But in arts, there is one saying "If you try to show everything...you are showing nothing !"

3. Your example in comparing the old woman and young beautiful woman shows your misperception about "inner beauty". They can be both evocating and beautiful..and maybe the old woman can have more "inner beauty" with her character, wise expression or whatever; and the young woman might look beautiful, but maybe not the inner beauty.
Ofcourse you can have your own taste and perception on beauty, but a good taste should have something in common level of acceptance within certain society. The quality and level of taste, especially in arts, very depend on one's education, intelectuality, knowledge in the related field, experiences, references, social value etc...; so one's taste and perceiption about certain quality can change and upgrade if those above factors are also improving. But one's taste can stay low forever if he/she is ignorant to the existing value, or for his inability and cabability..or for his reluctant and resistance for changes of improvement.
"Inner beauty" and "Avocating" are two different thing, but they can come together in one creation. "Inner beauty" is something that give the viewer the feeling of peace of mind, comfortable, the sense of harmony, the implicit beauty; whereas "Acovating" makes the viewing spend more time on the object to look, to observe, to interprate, to think and try to find where the inner beauty is....


Last edited by Robert Steven on Sun May 27, 2012 6:12 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Old Olive - design suggestions ?

Post  Poink88 on Sun May 27, 2012 6:07 pm

Robert,

The more I read your posts, the more I feel the NEED to buy your books!!! You seem to have gone beyond what other books teach and I love your way of thinking and reasoning. More power to you! cheers

Poink88
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Re: Old Olive - design suggestions ?

Post  Robert Steven on Sun May 27, 2012 6:13 pm

Thanks Dario..you bet you NEED.... Dance Laughing

Robert Steven
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Re: Old Olive - design suggestions ?

Post  theBalance on Sun May 27, 2012 6:37 pm

Dario – don’t hesitate! I have many good bonsai books, but I just love reading robert’s books ( I have both of them ) the amount of knowledge inside of them is huge, and yes – Robert has gone way beyond other books !

Robert,
Regarding 1 – yes it was a technical question, in your answers you wrote things that can be interpreted in more then one way, and I wanted to be sure I understand you – now I do
Regarding 2 – if we compare bonsai as a 3d art – just like sculpture – then in a museum we view a statue from many angles…and this is what I aspire to achieve, but I will remember that :” If you try to show everything...you are showing nothing”
Regarding 3 – now everything is crystal clear
10x,
alon

theBalance
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Re: Old Olive - design suggestions ?

Post  Robert Steven on Sun May 27, 2012 6:44 pm

Thanks Alon...
Over midnight now..good night !.... Sleep

Robert Steven
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Re: Old Olive - design suggestions ?

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