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artofbonsai.org :: View topic - Truly Natural Style Bonsai
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Truly Natural Style Bonsai
http://artofbonsai.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=203
Page 1 of 3

Author:  Andy Rutledge [ Tue Jan 03, 2006 7:53 am ]
Post subject:  Truly Natural Style Bonsai

Truly Natural Style Bonsai
by Andy Rutledge

From the "what if..." thread, here's the offshoot. Contrary to what Walter and others will suggest, here are examples of what truly natural style bonsai look like...

Image

and

Image

and

Image


These are excellent examples of bonsai artistry and are completely natural in their appearance. What I believe Walter and others submit as natural style bonsai are aesthetically neglected structures that literally imply the chaos and poor structures common to trees in nature. That is neither aesthetically pleasing nor good for bonsai.

This is the basis of my argument. What say others?

Author:  Andy Rutledge [ Tue Jan 03, 2006 9:02 am ]
Post subject: 

...Actually, these are what I'd call "excellent" bonsai. As I percieve it, there are 2 kinds of bonsai - excellent bonsai and poor bonsai. Efforts at naturalistic, romantic, traditional, modern, etc... bonsai is simply terminology for describing poor or deficient bonsai (of various degrees).
Excellent bonsai are evocative, natural looking, communicative works that are not bound up with artifice (outside of artistry's techniques) and appear to be natural and not overly contrived. "Natural style" is a contrived sort of neglect, in my opinion.
As far as I can tell, there is only one style of bonsai that is distinct from your basic excellent bonsai. That would be bunjin style bonsai. And no, I'm not talking about thin trunks with foliage at the top. The bunjin style embodies far more than that and has an idiom all its own - at least as far as the emphasis employed in that style.
My main bone to pick with "natural style" is that it is an exercise in ignoring the medium and the dictates of scale. That is to ignore artistry, leaving us with a deficient result.
Kind regards,
Andy

Author:  John Dixon [ Tue Jan 03, 2006 9:15 am ]
Post subject: 

Andy,
The second tree strikes me as the most relevant to the issue. It appears to be a trident. It lacks any visible scarring, obviously an attribute. The biggest no-no in what most consider the "rules" is the fact that branching does not consistently thin in diameter as they go up the trunk. There are several that are much thicker than some of the others at the same level on the trunk.
Personally, I like that and I find it inherently NATURAL. Trees do that in nature. Some branches abort or get broken off cleanly. It buds back on the old wood and the result is a limb much smaller than the one it replaces. It stays that way. This is also more consistent with older specimens. Oaks in particular for me. As always the trick is to portray it positively and not make it standout when used on bonsai.
Maybe that's why it has a decidedly positive effect on my ideal of an aged tree. This can be used effectively with bonsai to achieve the same premise.
All three bonsai are wonderful and I would dare say specimen quality. The lack of scarring seems to be shared by all three. I realize that is usually what we want, and lack of deadwood on deciduous species is also completely normal, but I have to wonder if sometimes we automatically condone, or abstain from, its use solely from an aesthetic standpoint of what we feel is natural? I know that it was one of the first things I noticed about all three of these bonsai. Second was the branch thickness on the trident, and third was the lowest right branch on the clump (palmatum?) dipping past the lip of the pot (without which the secondary branching would not exist, please afford me a little imagination).
Great discussion. It does prompt a lot of thought. I hope others will expand and contribute.
John

Author:  Andy Rutledge [ Tue Jan 03, 2006 9:20 am ]
Post subject: 

For clarification: The trees from top to bottom are:
1. Acer palmatum
2. Acer palmatum
3. Stewartia monodelpha
Kind regards,
Andy

Author:  Andy Rutledge [ Tue Jan 03, 2006 9:25 am ]
Post subject: 

John,
Thanks for your thoughts. I agree that the second tree (a palmatum, not burgerianum) is evocative and natural looking. Your observation about the relative branch strenghts cites one of the features that helps this tree - all good works of art will have some sort of flaw, but an uncontrived flaw.
Unlike "natural style" bonsai, however, the flaw(s) does not propound its character, but is like a seasoning for added flavor. Note also that this maple has a theme - power and age. There are some specific artistic principles that were employed to achieve that sort of character. "Rules" do not have anything to do with its success (and "rules" is a misleading and detrimental term in bonsai ;-).
Kind regards,
Andy

Author:  Walter Pall [ Tue Jan 03, 2006 9:40 am ]
Post subject: 

Andy,
I wonder what you are referring to when you say 'naturalisitic' styling. It must be some misunderstanding that you have made at one time and never corrected. I bluntly say that you have no clue what you are talking about.
The three pictures you post:
Number 1 is a very nice maple in the naturalstic style.
Number 2 is a maple in the neoclassical style which is made to look more like a pine tree than a maple. It has the typical faults of a stumped tree,namely some of the lower branches are much too thin and tjhose that are not thin have too radical a change in taper. This may be corrrected over many years. The fact that it looks like a slightyl untidy pine tree does not make it naturalistic. I still would want to have it though.
The third tree is a stewartia in the naturalistic style.
Andy, go back and do more reading! Naturalistc does NOT mean untidy bonsai that were left alone for a long time.
I will NOT explain it agin here. If you have not understood or did not want to understand my dozens of explanations so far you just will never understand.
Walter

Author:  John Dixon [ Tue Jan 03, 2006 9:56 am ]
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Author:  Walter Pall [ Tue Jan 03, 2006 10:07 am ]
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Author:  Andy Rutledge [ Tue Jan 03, 2006 1:36 pm ]
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Author:  Attila Soos [ Tue Jan 03, 2006 2:02 pm ]
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Author:  Howard Smith [ Tue Jan 03, 2006 3:30 pm ]
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Author:  John Dixon [ Tue Jan 03, 2006 4:19 pm ]
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Author:  Hector Johnson [ Tue Jan 03, 2006 5:02 pm ]
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Author:  Andy Rutledge [ Wed Jan 04, 2006 7:51 am ]
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Author:  Andy Rutledge [ Wed Jan 04, 2006 9:10 am ]
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