focal point VS value of interest

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focal point VS value of interest

Post  theBalance on Tue Mar 06, 2012 10:53 am

Hi,

does anyone knows if there is a diffrence between this 2 terms ?

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Re: focal point VS value of interest

Post  JimLewis on Tue Mar 06, 2012 12:02 pm

I've never heard of the second. Can you find textbook definitions we can start from as they might apply to bonsai?

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Re: focal point VS value of interest

Post  RYUGA on Tue Mar 06, 2012 12:07 pm

Yes, it's in Robert Steven's books, right Balance ? Anyone has read it ?

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Re: focal point VS value of interest

Post  JimLewis on Tue Mar 06, 2012 12:10 pm

Well, I don't have any of your books and have never found the term in any other. How do you define it, Robert?

We need starting point.

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Re: focal point VS value of interest

Post  Poink88 on Tue Mar 06, 2012 12:16 pm

Ditto to what Jim said.

For me, a tree can have multiple "value of interest" (VOI - bark, trunk, roots, dead wood feature, ramification, fruit, flower, etc.) but only have one "focal point" (FP). That "focal point" is most likely one of the the "value of interest" OR where several or all of them converge.

I guess you can have conflicting VOI that your FP can become "fuzzy" or lost?

Just my personal interpretation.

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Re: focal point VS value of interest

Post  Robert Steven on Wed Mar 07, 2012 12:54 am

JimLewis wrote:Well, I don't have any of your books and have never found the term in any other. How do you define it, Robert?

We need starting point.

Then you should order them... Laughing (just kidding Jim)

Both are among the basic artistic principles specifically in visual art form.
Focal point is the main subject or the most eye-catching part of a creation which draw the first attention from the viewers, but a focal point does not always have the value of interest. Value of interest is an interesting or attractive featurre on the creation which makes the creation unique and evocating, and create a positive responds from the viewers, but not always the focal point.

Focal point is always the most dominant part of the creation, but the point of interest (which has the value of interest) can be anywhere on the creation. On bonsai, it can be the texture of the bark, the deadwood, the line, or even a small piece of jin in such a way that give possitive accentuation to the overall design, that make the whole design unique, outstanding and more beautiful then without it.

Every art form should have a focal point, without it, the creation will not be attractive; but an art piece with value of interest will be more attractive and evocating. Sometimes, even a defective feature can create the value of interest. A creation suppose to have only one focal point, but it can have many points of interest.
Uniqueness is not always beautiful and has value of interest; uniqueness will have value of interest only if it create a positive respond and gives certain added value to the design.

Look at this Premna....
The focal point is the dominant trunk with the main canopy, but it has many points (value) of interest..the scars, even the small dead-wood parts...

One of the Chinese Penjing principles..an ugliness, in certain extence is a beauty !





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Re: focal point VS value of interest

Post  attila on Wed Mar 07, 2012 1:11 am

thank you Robert for the clear explanation very easy to understand
( your english is better than some of the native english speakers Very Happy )

can i get your books in mainland China?
regards
Attila

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Re: focal point VS value of interest

Post  Robert Steven on Wed Mar 07, 2012 1:31 am

Thanks Attila... Embarassed

Unfortunately not. You can order through www.stonelantern.com
Can you PM me your mobile in China ? I can call you from China as I am traveling to China every 2 weeks.

May I ask what your job is in China ?

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Re: focal point VS value of interest

Post  theBalance on Sun Mar 11, 2012 12:10 pm

Hi Robert,

10x for your explanation, I really appreciate your sharing of your vast knowledge & understanding in the art of bonsai Cool
I think I got it, but due to the importance of this concept in my eyes, I would like to ask you :
1. Can you please show us some more examples ( pic ) of “value of interest” in bonsai ? Especially VOI which are not a certain feature but rather something more general ( line ? )
2. Can you please show an example of uniqueness in bonsai that is NOT “value of interest”

alon

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Re: focal point VS value of interest

Post  Cullen Wegman on Sun Mar 11, 2012 9:00 pm

I am by no means an expert of bonsai, but I am a life long student of art. Perhaps I can offer a slightly different explanation that may further your understanding of the topic.

In art, a focal point does not necessarily need to be the dominant feature in a piece (though it often is), but is more universally defined as a resting place for the viewers eye. In fact, the viewer may not initially recognize the focal point, as it may be rather subtle, but ultimately they will be drawn to that area. Furthermore, a work of art may have MORE than one focal point which serve to move the viewer from space to space. Often times a focal point is a region of anomaly. In the example photo Robert gave, I would argue that there are actually three focal points. The primary focal point is the largest area of foliage. There are two secondary focal points as well which we, as viewers, are moved to; the other two regions of foliage. These places stand out because, in the over all composition, the bright green contrasts against the back drop of white bark.

Value of Interest is not a term I have come across before in talking about art but to me it seems that the VOI are all the details which reinforce, and direct our attention to, the focal points. Again to use Roberts example photo, I would point to the jin and VOI as there shape and direction move our eye as they mirror and call attention to the pads of foliage. The scaring on the trunk is also a VOI and it is an anomaly on an otherwise smooth surface in the same way the green is the anomaly against white.

I understand why some of you feel a bonsai should have only one focal point but I make the case that this specimen has three and is more interesting because of it. If there were only one focal point we would stop and stare only at the upper portion of the tree and never be attracted toward the stunning base.

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Re: focal point VS value of interest

Post  Rob Kempinski on Mon Mar 12, 2012 7:55 am

Cullen Wegman wrote:I am by no means an expert of bonsai, but I am a life long student of art. Perhaps I can offer a slightly different explanation that may further your understanding of the topic.

In art, a focal point does not necessarily need to be the dominant feature in a piece (though it often is), but is more universally defined as a resting place for the viewers eye. In fact, the viewer may not initially recognize the focal point, as it may be rather subtle, but ultimately they will be drawn to that area. Furthermore, a work of art may have MORE than one focal point which serve to move the viewer from space to space. Often times a focal point is a region of anomaly. In the example photo Robert gave, I would argue that there are actually three focal points. The primary focal point is the largest area of foliage. There are two secondary focal points as well which we, as viewers, are moved to; the other two regions of foliage. These places stand out because, in the over all composition, the bright green contrasts against the back drop of white bark.

Value of Interest is not a term I have come across before in talking about art but to me it seems that the VOI are all the details which reinforce, and direct our attention to, the focal points. Again to use Roberts example photo, I would point to the jin and VOI as there shape and direction move our eye as they mirror and call attention to the pads of foliage. The scaring on the trunk is also a VOI and it is an anomaly on an otherwise smooth surface in the same way the green is the anomaly against white.

I understand why some of you feel a bonsai should have only one focal point but I make the case that this specimen has three and is more interesting because of it. If there were only one focal point we would stop and stare only at the upper portion of the tree and never be attracted toward the stunning base.

Thanks Cullen. Very good explanation.

And thanks To Robert too for getting people to think this way.

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Re: focal point VS value of interest

Post  Robert Steven on Mon Mar 12, 2012 8:46 am

Hi Cullen,

Thanks for your additional explaination.
I am fully aware of what you are saying and totally agree. But I always try to make my explaination simple when I write a concept to be applied in bonsai design, rather than making it too academic.

At least, my empathy to my audiance when I am teaching bonsai, I assume they can easier understand when I say the focal point is the most dominant part which attract the viewers attention, rather than explaining the multi-focal points..otherwise, then I should also explain the hierarchy concept etc..which might not be interesting for some, who simply want to learn a more practical concept in their bonsai design process.

Focal point is also called centre of interest and there are different hierarchies. But at least in my opinion, if I go into this, it might be too much for some; my target is just how to make people can design bonsai in the simplest way, and I always do it with simple analogy. The reason is that people have learned too many on the rules and techniques, and I want to give them a different perspective in doing beautiful bonsai.

In case of my bonsai example. You are also right to say there are more than one focal points, more than one centre of interest with the interesting features. But I prefer to tell them how important the "focal" point is, especially when we are talking about grouping style or forest or landscape, then I tell them how to make their bonsai more attractive, more evocating with other features..rather than asking them to create more focal points.

Thanks again Cullen for this discussion.


Last edited by Robert Steven on Mon Mar 12, 2012 8:48 am; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : mistype)

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Re: focal point VS value of interest

Post  theBalance on Mon Mar 12, 2012 1:43 pm

Cullen,

10x so much for your detailed explanation, now everything "falls in place" with my own former knowledge on this subject
in this case ( at least for me ) your "full" explanation of the focal point concept together with the understanding that there are different hierarchies ( 10x robert ! )
makes this whole subject krystal clear cheers
and indeed if we just plan our bonsai for only one main focal point, the viewers will only stare at one point, instead of "flowing" along the creation lines.

Robert,

if we consider the "full" concept ( multiple "focal points" in different hierarchies ) - does VOI still exsist ?
if it does -
1. Can you please show us some more examples ( with pic ) of “value of interest” in bonsai ? Especially VOI which are not a certain feature but rather something more general ( line ? )
2. Can you please show an example of uniqueness in bonsai that is NOT “value of interest”

10x,
alon


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Re: focal point VS value of interest

Post  Cullen Wegman on Mon Mar 12, 2012 4:05 pm

Always happy to discuss art with you. Very Happy

Robert, I think you do a wonderful job of breaking the concepts down and applying them to bonsai. I find it so difficult to apply what I know to my trees but perhaps they will be that much stronger once I figure it all out. I should point out that my understanding of art is heavily western (though I greatly appreciate eastern art!) and that there are certainly different aesthetics and approaches. Talking about these differences and similarities can only make us that much stronger as artists.

alon, I will try to give you some picture examples to further illustrate the concepts. First I will show two paintings (something I know more about than bonsai) and then I will try to show a bonsai example which I'm sure Robert will do a better job with.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Last_Supper_%28Leonardo_da_Vinci%29
This painting of the Last Supper by Da Vinci is a prime example of a single focal point with the portrait of Jesus being the area to which we as viewers are meant to focus our attention. The converging lines of perspective of the room serve as a VOI because they call our attention toward the central focal point. In similar fashion, the window behind Jesus' head is also a VOI. The bowls on the table are an interesting detail which make the painting more realistic but are not VOI because they do not enhance the composition of the painting.

http://www.ibiblio.org/wm/paint/auth/mondrian/
In this abstract painting by Mondrian we have multiple focal points. These points are the four carefully placed splashes of color which are an anomaly on an otherwise black and white image. The grid work created by the black lines are the VOI as they break up the space and ultimately frame the focal points. This painting is not as highly detailed as the one by Da Vinci but we can move more freely through it.

Now for my attempt to make this example in bonsai.
http://onemanbandwidth.com/wordpress/category/bonsai/
I would start by saying that to me, this tree has only one focal point; the large branch which stretches out to the right. This tree does illustrate an instance in which the VOI is not a specific feature like a jin but is line. Notice the motion of the trunk which continues through the curve of the outer foliage. This strong curves circles around that central focal point calling our attention to it. The interesting root structure at the base of the tree might not be considered VOI because, as we saw with the bowls in the Da Vinci example, it is a detail that does not enhance the focal point.

With that I am done giving my two cents. I look forward to seeing what Robert has to offer.


Last edited by Cullen Wegman on Tue Mar 13, 2012 1:32 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: focal point VS value of interest

Post  Robert Steven on Mon Mar 12, 2012 4:58 pm

Hi Cullen,

You give wonderful explanination and examples. Absolutely agree.
You are right, the way Chinese appreaciate art is totally different from the western. I mention this issue in many occasion that Chinese language cannot be translated specifically when we are talking about artistic concelpt, and even more difficult when we come to Penjing (Bonsai). That's also one of the reason why there are not really good book available about Penjing in other languages; and that's also why so many people misunderstood about this art form.

I have been strongly obsessive to write about all these issues, using my Chinese brain to understand the concept and write and talk with my western logic. We can have a very long discussion about this... Laughing

Hi Balance,

Any art creation should have VOI, without it, the creation might still have the implicit message, but will be boring and less evocating.

I will come back to further explaination and bonsai examples..as I am about to leave to the airport heading China. Just to have a quick check on my email after a short 4 hours sleep (now is 5.00 am here).... Sleep


Last edited by Robert Steven on Mon Mar 12, 2012 4:59 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : mistype)

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Re: focal point VS value of interest

Post  theBalance on Tue Mar 13, 2012 11:33 am

Cullen,
it is a very interesting discussion - 10x very much for helping me out..
it seems we share the same challenge : "translating" general art concepts into bonsai art Shocked
the Da Vinci painting is indeed a great example for creation of focal point...and if we go to "theory" - the focal point is created by elements in 3 categories :
1. structure/flow - The converging lines of perspective of the room like you said and also that all the people are looking at jesus
2. contrast - of color/brightness - like you said about the windows
3. Complimentary colors - look at jesus clothing ( red + blue ) - the human eye is attracted to Complimentary colors.

BUT !!!

if we carefully examine robert statements :
1. "Value of interest is an interesting or attractive feature on the creation which makes the creation unique and evocating, and create a positive responds from the viewers"
2. "Any art creation should have VOI, without it, the creation might still have the implicit message, but will be boring and less evocating"

it seems in my eyes that this elements are simply "tricks" to emphasize the focal point and NOT what Robert is defining as VOI Rolling Eyes

Robert,

for discussing such interesting concepts, we have all the time in the world Very Happy
hope you enjoy in China...
whenever you complete your business in china - it would be great if you will find the time to answer my previous questions so we can all understand your concept regarding VOI

10x,
alon


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Re: focal point VS value of interest

Post  Hans van Meer. on Tue Mar 13, 2012 4:31 pm

Cullen Wegman wrote:


This painting of the Last Supper by Da Vinci is a prime example of a single focal point with the portrait of Jesus being the area to which we as viewers are meant to focus our attention. The converging lines of perspective of the room serve as a VOI because they call our attention toward the central focal point. In similar fashion, the window behind Jesus' head is also a VOI. The bowls on the table are an interesting detail which make the painting more realistic but are not VOI because they do not enhance the composition of the painting.


This copy of Da Vinci's last super is carved out of salt. It can be seen in de Wieliczka salt mine in Poland. The illusion of dept gives this image a extra dimension.


Cullen Wegman wrote:

In this abstract painting by Mondrian we have multiple focal points. These points are the four carefully placed splashes of color which are an anomaly on an otherwise black and white image. The grid work created by the black lines are the VOI as they break up the space and ultimately frame the focal points. This painting is not as highly detailed as the one by Da Vinci but we can move more freely through it.

Not to beat on my own drum Wink , but in both these paintings and especially in the Mondrian, empty spaces are of great importance! And the same goes for the Bonsai you used below in your example.


Cullen Wegman wrote:
Now for my attempt to make this example in bonsai.

I would start by saying that to me, this tree has only one focal point; the large branch which stretches out to the right. This tree does illustrate an instance in which the VOI is not a specific feature like a jin but is line. Notice the motion of the trunk which continues through the curve of the outer foliage. This strong curves circles around that central focal point calling our attention to it. The interesting root structure at the base of the tree might not be considered VOI because, as we saw with the bowls in the Da Vinci example, it is a detail that does not enhance the focal point.



I think that by looking for a focal point in this tree, you missed that the tree is the focal point. Like a good Bonsai should always do! What I see in this Bonsai? Well the artist even helps us with were he wants us to start looking. The writing on the pot (X) marks the spot. There the journey for our eyes takes off, upwards along those almost figure like aerial roots! It could have been a sculpture by Bernini from this distance! And what sets off this amazing trunk section of this tree? The open space above it. Cleverly highlighted and framed by that long branch above it. Like a marquis that shades the figurines laying under it from the sun Wink ! That this beautiful long branch is actually growing from the inside of the curve in the trunk and divides two large sections of open space, does not mater much, because the clever artist counter balanced that offset with that large foliage section on the left side of the trunk! This bulk of foliage and the open space beneath it, is just enough to balance it all out, but keeps it still exciting. This large foliage section would in a more traditional Japanese design, be more open with clearly outlined foliage sections. But their purpose would be the same! And then that sharp wind beaten top section, that swooshes off to the right. Talking about visual speed! And this top also flows along the circular outline of this design, that ends at X again. That circle is only pierced by that important long branch. I dare to say that this design shows so much sensitivity and skill, that it doesn't need a specific focal point. It's total presence and impression is it focal point! This artist made a Bonsai, a piece of art on it's own! A successful Bonsai design is so much more than creating or finding a focal point to make it work or exciting! There is so much more going on in any Bonsai or Art design! And if people have to go start looking for surprises in your Bonsai, well than you misted the point Wink !
Just my thought (in poor English) in a excellent and interesting post! These matters are fun to think and talk about!
Cheers,
Hans van Meer.


Last edited by Hans van Meer. on Tue Mar 13, 2012 4:33 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : typo)

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Re: focal point VS value of interest

Post  Robert Steven on Thu Mar 15, 2012 9:04 am

Han,

What you described was composition elements with the "viewing flow". Every art design need to have focal point. What you said as total presence and impression was the total performance from the overall composition, and the good total performance was the output of good focal point with good value of interest in good composition. When we design bonsai by applying the good bonsai design principles, we are not expecting the viewer "to look for" the focal point or VOI, but we need to create it to get the good respond from the viewers on our creation.
A good art creation should make the viewers watch, not only look, and only avocating creating will make the viewers watch. And only good composition will make good viewing flow as you described.

Balance,

Your comment on the Last Supper. In my opinion, Jesus is certainly the focal point, but the VOI is on the pose, the body movement, the mimic of the others. The room's perspective line, the window might be also VOI, but you can easily check on the hierarchy.
Imagine the painting without the perspective line and without the window, does it still look good ? But how about keeping the line and the window, but make all other figures sitting with the same pose and mimic as Jesus ? Which one is better, then you know which one play better role in VOI. The same instrument you can use to diagnose your bonsai.

Now..back to your previous question. VOI in bonsai is not neccessary only to be the bark texture, but it can be any features as long as it give added value to the overal design beauty, make the bonsai more unique and evocating. Look at the below 2 bonsai examples :

The VOI on this bonsai is on the twisting feature, it can also be the focal point.



and the VOI of this bonsai is on the small root-sucker, but it is not the focal point.



Look at this bonsai, it has strong focal point, but no VOI, that's why it does not evoke you well.



The vocal point of this raft style bonsai is on the tallest group with part of the deadwood, but where is the VOI..how if this design is without the deadwood base ?



How about this one ? Where is the focal point and where is the VOI ? There are two competing focal points, the main trunk and the deadwood; and both do not create added value to the overall design because they are not well composed.



And to answer to your last question, uniqueness is not always beautiful...





Last edited by Robert Steven on Thu Mar 15, 2012 9:11 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : mistype)

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Re: focal point VS value of interest

Post  RYUGA on Fri Mar 16, 2012 9:31 am

I think this is unique and beautiful.


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Re: focal point VS value of interest

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