American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  MichaelS on Fri Feb 26, 2016 12:56 am

Khaimraj,

It is probably C. tschonoskii (Korean) It does have small leaves and short internodes therefore much easier to get density but I'm not talking about density or age or even the quality of the starting material. I'm talking about the skill in the selection and shaping of branches.


It is unfair to compare Japanese masterworks with American attempts simply because they have not
really started to use their resources.


I'm simply pointing out that we need to be careful when we use the word outstanding. Something may be outstanding next to it's neighbours on the same bench or even a show in the same town, but the term must be qualified or you will potentially give others the impression that it truly is outstanding when in fact it is not.
As for comparing, like I said, I am not really comparing the age or refinement quality of the work done. The American tree is decades old by the looks of it yet the branch work is inferior and aimless compared to the Japanese approach. It's caused by a lack of planning or a lack of knowledge or a lack of skill not a ''new style'' or because it is still young.
I am actually amazed that it's not more obvious!

MichaelS
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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  MichaelS on Fri Feb 26, 2016 1:03 am

Dave Leppo wrote:I just went back to the American Hornbeam, and noticed the video link.  I urge any to watch it who haven't.  The tree, and the artist are described as "highly unconventional".
Yes but what does ''unconventional'' mean?  Rough trees like that are a dime a dozen in our club (although on a smaller scale). Pretty conventional for old folks who have been pottering around in their back yards for decades without being exposed to more developed techniques until very recently.

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  Dave Leppo on Fri Feb 26, 2016 1:08 am

MichaelS wrote:
Dave Leppo wrote:I just went back to the American Hornbeam, and noticed the video link.  I urge any to watch it who haven't.  The tree, and the artist are described as "highly unconventional".
Yes but what does ''unconventional'' mean?  Rough trees like that are a dime a dozen in our club (although on a smaller scale). Pretty conventional for old folks who have been pottering around in their back yards for decades without being exposed to more developed techniques until very recently.

You can watch or not, it's your choice.

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  MichaelS on Fri Feb 26, 2016 1:12 am

Dave Leppo wrote:
MichaelS wrote:
Dave Leppo wrote:I just went back to the American Hornbeam, and noticed the video link.  I urge any to watch it who haven't.  The tree, and the artist are described as "highly unconventional".
Yes but what does ''unconventional'' mean?  Rough trees like that are a dime a dozen in our club (although on a smaller scale). Pretty conventional for old folks who have been pottering around in their back yards for decades without being exposed to more developed techniques until very recently.

You can watch or not, it's your choice.

Not sure what you mean there Dave?? I watched it last week.. But I don't need some ones words to tell me what to think. Just my eyes.

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  Richard S on Fri Feb 26, 2016 1:21 am

Redmoon

I agree with your assertion that there are standards by which we can judge quality and that those standards are not, as some might have it entirely subjective. However I would add a caveat!

We need to avoid confusing issues of quality with issues of style or taste. I am not suggesting that you are doing this, only that it is a pitfall which we should seek to avoid.

To illustrate my point let me take your example of nebari. You refer to "ugly surface roots" and "bad" nebari but by what standard do we judge good, bad or ugly?

In what we might refer to as conventional or classical Japanese bonsai design a good nebari would presumably be one with an even distribution of surface roots, of uniform thickness and taper, on a level plane and extending in all direction from an evenly tapering trunk base.

If you are setting out to create a very formal, calm, balanced and serene Japanese style tree then it follows that this is the yard stick of quality to use.

On the other hand if you are setting out to create a very informal, wild, dramatic or highly naturalistic style tree is the yard stick the same?

I would suggest that a "good" nebari is not one that simply conforms to a pre-determined model but rather one that compliments and enhances the character of the individual tree and aids in effectively communicating the emotional message which the artist/designer is trying to covey.

This is not an argument for subjectivity or for saying that quality cannot be measured and it is certainly not an argument for saying that naturalistically styled trees cannot have "bad nebari". Of course they can, it is just that in my view at least what makes any nebari good or bad is whether or not it compliments and enhances or conflicts with and detracts from the rest of the tree and the vision that the designer is trying to express.

This might be different for trees of different styles. In fact, taken to the extreme, it could be that what constitutes a good nebari on one tree might actually be a poor nebari on another. Or at least an unsuitable one?

For a practical example of this we could perhaps scroll back to the photo of the Prunus (Mume?) which Van posted above and ask ourselves whether that tree has a good nebari, a bad nebari or a mediocre one? We could also ask ourselves whether it would be improved by air-layering across the widest part of the trunk in order to create a perfectly even spread of radiating roots?

I know what I think but then again I might be wrong. Either way I reserve the right to change my mind in the face of a more persuasive argument because it's getting late and I may well be over thinking this  Wink .

Just time for another glass of whisky before bed!

Regards

Richard

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  Richard S on Fri Feb 26, 2016 1:29 am

You buggers! I spent ages thinking about Redmoon's comments and when I finally post my thoughts I find the conversations moved on. Oh well, that's web forums for you. Till tomorrow!

Richard

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  Dave Leppo on Fri Feb 26, 2016 1:32 am

this is Walter's:


kind of looks like a tree.

I'm not sure how that would look off the stand and in a field.

This kind of has to do with near vs far images, but not entirely.  The second bonsai really looks like hedge material from the yard.  Is the skill level of the artist more important, or the art produced?

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  Vance Wood on Fri Feb 26, 2016 1:55 am

Richard S wrote:You buggers! I spent ages thinking about Redmoon's comments and when I finally post my thoughts I find the conversations moved on. Oh well, that's web forums for you. Till tomorrow!

Richard  

I think your comments were timely and on point to the conversation and needed to be said and pointed out.

Vance Wood
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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  MichaelS on Fri Feb 26, 2016 2:08 am


Richard S wrote:.

To illustrate my point let me take your example of nebari. You refer to "ugly surface roots" and "bad" nebari but by what standard do we judge good, bad or ugly?

In what we might refer to as conventional or classical Japanese bonsai design a good nebari would presumably be one with an even distribution of surface roots, of uniform thickness and taper, on a level plane and extending in all direction from an evenly tapering trunk base.

If you are setting out to create a very formal, calm, balanced and serene Japanese style tree then it follows that this is the yard stick of quality to use.




There are many examples in the various Japanese articles where the nebari is discussed. A uniform nebari is only held as being important in the very settled formal broom and upright styles. Otherwise, it is advised that uniformity is to be avoided. Especially in the wild or abstract tree forms such as juniper, wisteria, old or dramatic forms etc., uniformity is seen as especially undesirable. So your contention that the nebari should match the flavour of the tree is agreed with by the Japanese as well. I think we should consider that every possible permutation of stying and design we could come up with has probably already been conjectured on by the Japanese artists x 1000%

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  MichaelS on Fri Feb 26, 2016 2:18 am

Dave Leppo wrote:this is Walter's:


kind of looks like a tree.

I'm not sure how that would look off the stand and in a field.

This kind of has to do with near vs far images, but not entirely.  The second bonsai really looks like hedge material from the yard.  Is the skill level of the artist more important, or the art produced?
Are you trying to temp me Dave?   Ok I'll bite. Have a another look......a close look...at both.
The top one looks to me as if it has been shaped while blindfolded...Someone had to say it.

MichaelS
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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  Dave Leppo on Fri Feb 26, 2016 2:43 am

So the bottom one shows the hand of an experienced artist?

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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  MichaelS on Fri Feb 26, 2016 5:29 am

Dave Leppo wrote:So the bottom one shows the hand of an experienced artist?

Wow. Really? Maybe it shows the hand of someone who never gave tree form a second thought. Or just maybe, it shows the hand of someone who lives and breathes tree form every waking moment.

I'm hopeless at computer art but it looks like a tree to me. (sorry I got carried away with the stars)




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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  redmoon on Fri Feb 26, 2016 8:26 am

Richard S wrote:You buggers! I spent ages thinking about Redmoon's comments and when I finally post my thoughts I find the conversations moved on. Oh well, that's web forums for you. Till tomorrow!

Richard

Haha. Consider one of those browser extensions that refresh all your tabs at a predetermined rate. Never miss another inflammatory post again!!!
But all kidding aside Richard we haven’t moved that much further along. Yours is a thoughtful observation and you highlight something often misunderstood.

Richard S wrote:I would suggest that a "good" nebari is ... one that compliments and enhances the character of the individual tree and aids in effectively communicating the emotional message which the artist/designer is trying to covey.

Well put and also my view on the subject. So the simple answer to which standard do we judge bad nebari (or any other basic element in turn) is everything that this ideal outcome is not. Bad nebari is any nebari that fails to enhance or compliment. Bad nebari is any nebari that strains believability. “Ugly” is admittedly an oversimplification representing an unpleasant eyesore. Ugly is something that not only adds nothing to the tree but actually detracts from it. Seems it doesn’t take much of an ugly element to ruin an otherwise good result. My point (when I had one) was this: If we see an element in a tree and that element fails to enhance or compliment the character of the individual tree but could have been altered at some point to do so, then it follows that the work was substandard. Put another way: the work was uninformed by vision or the skill necessary for the task at hand.

Richard S wrote:I know what I think but then again I might be wrong. Either way I reserve the right to change my mind in the face of a more persuasive argument because it's getting late and I may well be over thinking this.

I don’t believe you’re wrong or over thinking this. The notion that “ .. a good nebari would presumably be one with an even distribution of surface roots, of uniform thickness and taper, on a level plane and extending in all direction from an evenly tapering trunk base.” is a bit stereotypical perhaps but I’m sure there are those that believe this to be true.

Something I’d like to touch on: The maturation process of the serious practitioner and the price to be paid. When most start out it’s not unlike the flowering of youth. The world is full of possibilities. Let’s call this the ‘idealistic phase’. Then physiology rears its ugly head (there’s that pesky word again) and to embrace the next phase we have to become very analytical about what we are doing. What others have done. What nature has done. This is where the work takes a serious turn. Unfortunately this analytical thinking is very reductive by nature  and we can never again appreciate bonsai with the wide-eyed wonder we once did. The loss of innocence if you will. When confronted by a fair-to-middling tree how many in this phase can keep from thinking “How can we make this better?”. This is the price we pay for delving deeper into the work. The next phase is in the realm of accomplished artists. I don’t yet find myself in this phase so I can only imagine but hopefully serenity is part of the package. Someone else will have to speak to that.

That’s more than enough from me for awhile. Cheers Richard.

redmoon
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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  Dan W. on Fri Feb 26, 2016 1:47 pm

Hi Arthur, I've been following the discussion all the way along even though I haven't posted anything in a while. I do have a couple of questions that keep coming to mind, that I don't feel have really been addressed. I don't mean to be disrespectful in any way and I'm not intending to be confrontational. -- But I'm very curious to hear you and Walter's comments about a couple of the Japanese trees that have been posted by MichaelS. What is it about these trees that makes them "Japanese" vs. "Tree like"? I understand that there are plenty of deciduous trees shaped like pine trees, and that you don't like overly refined trees that look like "broccoli" as Walter puts it. -- But I spend vast amounts of time looking at bonsai from all over the world, admittedly online for the most part, and I see many trees by the Japanese that I would consider very much tree-like, or naturalistic if you will.

First up is this Japanese Maple clump. I don't think it's fair to consider the pot, the display or even the species, because that is most definitely going to reflect on the culture of the individual who displayed it. If the tree were imported to the US today we could take it out of the Japanese pot and put it into any American one. If that were to happen; what about this tree's styling makes it Japanese vs. Naturalistic? I'm very curious to hear your thoughts on this, and yours Walter. For my understanding, not for any confrontational reasons.

Thanks in advance. Smile

[quote="MichaelS]

[/quote]

Dan W.
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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  Dan W. on Fri Feb 26, 2016 2:00 pm

Next is the Korean Hornbeam recently posted.

I'm copying the same paragraph just so that no-one needs to jump back and forth to my questions: "I don't think it's fair to consider the pot, the display or even the species, because that is most definitely going to reflect on the culture of the individual who displayed it. If the tree were imported to the US today we could take it out of the Japanese pot and put it into any American one. If that were to happen; what about this tree's styling makes it Japanese vs. Naturalistic? I'm very curious to hear your thoughts on this, and yours Walter. For my understanding, not for any confrontational reasons."

Even if it's the dense ramification that's not desired in Naturalistic design, what do you think about the basic trunk and branch structure of this tree?

Dave Leppo wrote:


Thanks again for your time. I would argue that this is one of, if not the most stimulating and entertaining bonsai thread on any bonsai forum I'm a part of. (And I'm a member of pretty much all of them.. lol)

Dan W.
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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

Post  AlainK on Fri Feb 26, 2016 5:35 pm

I thought that maybe some would find reading this a rticle a way to "branch out" from personal feuds:

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/culture/2016/02/25/arts/bonsai-worlds-black-sheep-aims-inject-cool-traditional-art-form/#.VtCLBeYyH7w

Obviously, he knows "the rules", but doesn't limit himself to a single point of view. Apparently, it's more his personality that makes him a black sheep. Actually, it reminds me about us (me included Cool, and the bl**dy tempestes in a tea-cup that we are too often the masters of Razz

-------

http://ibonsaiclub.forumotion.com/viewtopic.forum?t=17354

AlainK
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Re: American Bonsai at the NC Arboretum

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