Who says Sumo trees don't grow in the wild?

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Who says Sumo trees don't grow in the wild?

Post  Todd Ellis on Sun Mar 13, 2011 1:18 am

My wife Jane took me to see a tree that she loves. This is a White Oak, Quercus alba, the largest I have ever seen in person. It grows in Earlysville, Virginia, not far from the Charlottesville airport. Here are some pictures that she took. The trunks base diameter is larger than my arms can reach. How's this for a natural sumo tree! thumbs up



I am 6 feet tall and weigh 210 lbs. I am dwarfed next to this beast.




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Re: Who says Sumo trees don't grow in the wild?

Post  Khaimraj Seepersad on Sun Mar 13, 2011 2:05 am

Thanks Todd,

I am always looking for great oaks to work with in my indoor oak quest [ Buddleja indica- was Nicodemia d.], this one is very inspiring. Please thank your wife for me as well.
Khaimraj

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Re: Who says Sumo trees don't grow in the wild?

Post  jgeanangel on Sun Mar 13, 2011 10:46 am

Very nice tree but it is hardly sumo if you consider the trunk width to height ratio. Many people use a 6 to 1 guideline for bonsai in general(that is not even considered sumo)...the tree is 6 times as tall as the base of the trunk is wide. Using rough measurements the tree pictured is between 7 and 8 to 1. Therefore, in terms of guidelines for bonsai this trunk is a little on the skinny side and doesn't even begin to approach sumo ratios:) Of course it still provides wonderful inspiration.
John

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Re: Who says Sumo trees don't grow in the wild?

Post  Khaimraj Seepersad on Sun Mar 13, 2011 12:16 pm

John,

1 to 6 is for an elegant, feminine tree, 1 to 5 is for a stout, masculine as guidelines.
Sumo is probably more like 1 to 2.
Love that trunk.
Khaimraj

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Re: Who says Sumo trees don't grow in the wild?

Post  Todd Ellis on Sun Mar 13, 2011 12:37 pm

I really know about the ratios. I was just amazed at the girth of this tree and have never seen such a pronounced base on an Oak like this. It took my breath away Very Happy

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Re: Who says Sumo trees don't grow in the wild?

Post  Ravi Kiran on Sun Mar 13, 2011 4:08 pm

Amazing tree Todd. I am glad you could get a pic taken along with this beauty. Might not be a sumo but amazingly beautiful all the same....

Ravi

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Re: Who says Sumo trees don't grow in the wild?

Post  Hawaiian77 on Sun Mar 13, 2011 4:10 pm

Mahalo Todd for sharing. ThumbsUp Mighty fine looking tree. Even the chap that is standing next to it too!! Dance Dance

A Hui Hou,
-Tim Cool

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Re: Who says Sumo trees don't grow in the wild?

Post  Mr. Moody on Wed Mar 16, 2011 3:22 pm

It might not be sumo for a Bonsai tree, but how often do you see a tree in nature with a 6:1 ratio? Using that ratio an 80ft tall tree would be 13 1/3ft wide. The only tree I know of that comes close to that is the Giant Angel Oak near Charleston S. Carolina, a truely amazing tree and a humbling experience to stand underneath. I'm new to Bonsai but the 6:1 ratio as well as some of the other standards I've seen contradict the addage of "don't make your tree look like a "Bonsai", make your Bonsai look like a tree."

I know I'm going to get my head bitten off for the above comments, but you know what they say about opinions....

Eitherway, thank you for sharing. That really is an inpressive tree.

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Re: Who says Sumo trees don't grow in the wild?

Post  Brett Summers on Tue Mar 22, 2011 12:45 am

It is a great tree and considering the trunk to height ratios with it I think is an excellent example. As Leonardo analyzed the structure of a tree when drawing them (just as he did the human body) we can learn alot by doing the same with bonsai.
Armatures drawing a face often put things out of perspective and only when they are shown how to analyze the face do things start looking real.

I learnt that 6:1 in bonsai was the average in age and stoutness. Above this was a younger more feminine tree. Still some amazing examples but the closer you got to 12:1 or above the harder it is to create an impressive image. Not impossible but just more of a challenge. Then where does informal upright end and literati begin? Literati being a great challenge to get right.
Under 6:1 it becomes an even older image and more stout. A little easier to create an amazing image but still has more challenges than a tree at 6:1
I think in general when we get down to around 2:1 it is a little more about showing of your horticultural skill han copying the structure of a real tree. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

This may be a little confusing in that the tree shown being 6:1 is not that average but still not as uncommon as was suggested.
Yet we do not bonsai average trees Wink We bonsai an image of amazing trees. Most trees by the time they have reached a 6:1 ratio are pretty amazing. Finding trees that are special above this ratio usually have some other outstanding feature besides it's great age.
Finding trees under 6:1 starts to become much harder but they are about anda sight to behold.

The first thing I did when I saw this tree was stick the ruler on it. I was expecting it to be about 5:1 so was a little surprised to find it almost exactly 6:1.
In Bonsai I think most copying this tree would end up with a tree some where about 4 or 5:1. Maybe that is about caricaturing the tree to make it more impressive. Maybe it is because it will take a much longer time to get the ramification that seems to stretch forever. Yet I notice maybe mostly from Indonesia that some are going further and recreating these long ramified branches and the result is very inspiring.

Just like Leonardo we can learn alot from analyzing these trees and comparing that to great bonsai to understand how they have created great works of art. Imagine if Leonardo was told that using a ruler on the human face would make his art less of an art!

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Re: Who says Sumo trees don't grow in the wild?

Post  Todd Ellis on Tue Mar 22, 2011 2:55 am

Brett,
Thank you for your insight and thoughts on ratios. A lot of food for thought.
Best,
Todd

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Re: Who says Sumo trees don't grow in the wild?

Post  Khaimraj Seepersad on Tue Mar 22, 2011 9:48 am

Just think - illusion - and the proportions will all make sense.

Very slim trees work well in forest bonsai, for example.
Khaimraj

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Re: Who says Sumo trees don't grow in the wild?

Post  Brett Summers on Tue Mar 22, 2011 12:41 pm

Glad you found the thoughts interesting Todd Smile

Afterwards I did remember there is another aspect to this and that is described as far and near perspective. The idea being that if you want to give the impression of being closer to the tree then the ratio comes down more which in turn increases the taper. This is meant to make you feel like the tree towers above you as you stand at the base of the tree. I have not taken so much to this thought I think it over complicates the issue.


Yet I agree Khaimraj illusion is a big part of this as well. That is why I was surprised when I actually compared the ratio's of actual trees to bonsai and found them very close. Maybe as I mentioned Bonsai of similar stature seem to be about one ratio less when we create them as Bonsai. Just to give them that extra bit of wow factor i guess.
Yet again I am inspired by some of the great bonsai we have seen in recent years with branches that reach for the sky.
If we look at the tree pictured would you allow it to have branches this long in bonsai. Just bringing those branches down a notch or two could bring it close to 4:1 being close to sumo status.
As bonsai would one image be better than the other?
My opinion is I would like one of each please Smile

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Re: Who says Sumo trees don't grow in the wild?

Post  Khaimraj Seepersad on Tue Mar 22, 2011 1:07 pm

Brett,

there maybe also a biological factor to those ratios and density of branchlets a tree can handle. Something I read on another site a few months ago, linking Da Vinci's measurements of a tree's trunk to branches to branchlets. The sum of each being equal to the other -- trunk=branches=branchlets.

Allowance of something is dependent on Design or if you prefer - If it feels right.
Sometimes, what looks good large does not work when made smaller.

Also as we say in oil painting --- That's reality, you have to accept it [ the tree shown and it's shape, proportions etc.] however as a drawing, no one might accept it as believable.
So if we shrank that tree down, it might not be totally believable as a bonsai. It may not feel right.
Later.
Khaimraj

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Re: Who says Sumo trees don't grow in the wild?

Post  Brett Summers on Tue Mar 22, 2011 11:33 pm

Khaimraj

Leonardo Da Vinci's study of the trunk diameter to branches to twigs was exactly the one I was thinking off Smile
I think Robert Steven was the first mention I ever heard of it. I have found Leonardo's sketch with a little explanation here
http://www.yesfans.com/showthread.php?t=65812
Another feature of trees not so well known but connected to this is that trunks, branches and such don't actually taper. I found this in a little book explaining how to draw trees. A little hard to believe(Our eye's perceive it as taper) but if you study a tree you will find this to be very true. The wood only reduces in size when a section forks of and in between each section the wood does not taper. The base of a tree that seems to taper out seems more complicated but if you consider a real tree in the ground bare rooted it also holds to this rule.
When translated to bonsai whether it just be the mechanics of always removing branches/branchlets (or even roots) to style or the actual illusion itself it sees impossible to do it any other way but with taper.

I think the idea of shrinking an actual tree into a bonsai pot is very interesting. I am sure there will be some that look great and others will look quite silly. I have been meaning to do some pot virtuals with real trees to explore this a little more but haven't got around to it yet.

Just to clarify where I head with this Khaimraj. I agree some of Bonsai is illusion. I agree we can not do things the same way a painter does things but they can't do all the things we do either Very Happy
I think understanding the true form of a tree will only improve the way I create them as Bonsai. Does not mean everyone needs to do it this way Wink

Thanks for your thoughts on this Smile

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Re: Who says Sumo trees don't grow in the wild?

Post  sunip on Wed Mar 23, 2011 9:45 am

Hello.
Interesting thoughts here.
I was thinking of the rule that the human head is (in general) 1 to 6 to the body.
So in some way it is also about the human perception of the tree,
comes it below this proportion 1-6 we feel the tree is old, like old people.(or the very young)
A sumo tree is, as i feel beyond this, suggesting ancient live.
(Of cours in monumental architecture or sculpture one use the the trick of the broad base and a small top to suggest
weight and grandness or power. The huge statues of dictators have big feet and small heads to impress, it always have been.)

With the analysis of a fine tree one finds the Golden Mean-Fibonacci proportion in some way.
(Take the hight of a tree and divide that meassure with 1,618, the outcome of that again and so fort. Or just 1-3)
It is a big help when you do not see this naturally, BUT there are other influences playing with it, giving the tree his own character.
Celebrating this characteristics keeps us far from the engineer'd standard icon and let live flow as it is.

Brett, Walter Pall did some virtuals like you mentioned, very interesting indeed.
regards, Sunip;)

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Re: Who says Sumo trees don't grow in the wild?

Post  Khaimraj Seepersad on Wed Mar 23, 2011 11:12 am

Sunip,
[as you already know the below is for the casual reader.]

the human proportions run as when drawn -
Ancient Greek - 7.5 heads [ so I am going on your 1 to 6 being that you add in the 1 head to the 6 = 7 heads total.]

8 heads modern

9 heads Heroic or godlike or Fashion Illustration.

And in actual, there are living people who have the above proportions, as 7 or 7.5 or 8 or 9.
Here again drawing and reality, as I mentioned before, it is what looks believable on paper.

Brett,

I need to chew on the information for a while, so expect a response at a later date.

Is it that the living cambium, thicker at the trunk, is equal to the cambium as it thins out in the branches which is equal to the cambium of the branchlets / fine tracery.
A friend of mine spoke of pipes, and how trees may transport food, etc.
Pipes at the trunk just dispersing more and more as they go up the tree.

Thanks for the ideas you two.
Khaimraj

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Re: Who says Sumo trees don't grow in the wild?

Post  Brett Summers on Wed Mar 23, 2011 11:35 am

affraid I need to think for a bit myself now. You guys have lost me. Maybe on the second or third read it will make a little more sense ThumbsUp
I would love to see the virts and what Walter thought about real trees in bonsai pots.

Edit: Ah I see where you guys are heading. Intresting Smile

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Re: Who says Sumo trees don't grow in the wild?

Post  Khaimraj Seepersad on Wed Mar 23, 2011 12:32 pm

Apologies Brett,

Sunip is a sculptor and I am an oil painter. I guess for us, at least for me, Bonsai and Fine Art spill over back and forth, and if one is following the Da Vinci bit, you have re-fusion with the ancient situation of Art and Science. In the old days, the one could not really exist without the other.

The link is research, if you observe the Renaissance paintings [ Da Vinci, Raphael, Tititan and so on ] every new painting, is like stepping off into the unknown, much as Science research does.
AND you are never sure it [ the oil painting ] is going to work.

This is why I automatically got drawn to Bonsai on my side [ apart from a natural love for trees, nature on the whole,] all the never been done trees, and why I spent my youth more on research and less on perfect tree shapes.

So with a possibly new understanding on how trees handle fine tracery, I may improve my approach and technique.
Until.
Khaimraj

* If you had the free time, just take a double point divider and check a few of the Renaissance and Baroque, Mythological, Religious or even Statesmen / Popes / Scholars, you may see 9 heads per human. A way to visually please a client and get more clients or commissions - ha ha ha.

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