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 Post subject: Re: Talent - The Holy Grail of Bonsai
PostPosted: Wed Sep 24, 2008 11:50 am 
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Location: NW Oregon
You do develop an eye for bonsai.... you don't just wake up and look at your first tree and see a world class tree in it. You don't just wake up, grab your first tree and style it to become a masterpiece your first time. With all do respect to Louis, any one of the major names will tell you that you develop an eye and you do progress as an artist. Do you think Walter Pall or Kimura styled beautiful trees from the get go? No they created trees that were far less than what they are doing today. It took many years for them to develop the skills and techniques that have made them who they are today. Yes, they are talented but that is a tool in bonsai.

I have spoke to many people about this recently because one thing bothers me....that talent is the be all end all of bonsai. I have agreed that talent is needed to create masterpiece bonsai, this I have never denied. But I see it as a tool, or piece of the puzzle if you will. You still need to know the major techniques, you still need to know things that you can only learn by many years of practicing and learning. You gotta remember Kimura has been in a bonsai nursery all his life.

Material plays a part in it, trust me...send an email to Walter Pall, Marco, Boon anyone and ask them if material plays a part in creating masterpiece bonsai. You will get the same answer from all, YES. You can't create masterpiece bonsai from junk, you have to start with high quality material. Sure a tree from seed can become masterpiece but it takes many, many years and chances are it won't happen in any one persons lifetime and it has to have been with the right grower who knew how to develop it into a masterpeice.

Anyways, there is no right or wrong answer to this, only opinion. We all see things differently, and we all learn in different ways and on diffrent paths. My path is not the same as anyone else's. Some agree with Wills article 100% and some only agree to 70% of it. Does that make us 70 percenters bad or lesser bonsai practioners? No, it just means in this case that I have my own experiences and lengthy conversations with a lot of big names and through this I have formed my own opinion.

Best,

Jason


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 Post subject: Re: Talent - The Holy Grail of Bonsai
PostPosted: Fri Sep 26, 2008 7:24 pm 
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Here are more thoughts and reply to Jason on my personal view about the importance of talent in great bonsai.

First of all one must have been exposed to trees in nature to know what trees really look like.

Talent is the natural ability to see a tree within a bush.

Talent is the natural ability to use taught skills and acquired techniques to create and maintain a bush to look like the original vision of a tree.

I will concede that the more you do it the easier it becomes.

The role that good material plays in the creation of a masterpiece is that it makes it easier for the artist to create a masterpiece bonsai. A lot of time is being saved.

Must time be used as a measurement of talent?

Talent is also the natural ability of a grower to use skills and techniques over a period of time to maintain and improve and develop a tree into a masterpiece.

On 20 September Jason wrote “Bonsai is a living breathing thing that the artist has to dominate to make his vision a reality. And it could take 25 years for that vision to come out in a living tree”

If I had been an extremely rich man in Japan with lots of bonsai and even people with years of experience in my employ, who would I use to improve a tree to be accepted for the Kokofu ten exhibitions?

I would use the most talented artist I can find. Does Mr. Kimura do that for millionaires?

Millionaires know how to use talent that is why they are millionaires.

If I had to choose one amongst techniques, skills, training, time, material or talent to improve my bonsai, I will make a grab for talent again and again.

I do not think people who agree 70% with Will are lesser bonsai practitioners; maybe they have more natural talent than they think they have but lack the enthusiasm to use it to its fullest.

Regards

Louis


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 Post subject: Re: Talent - The Holy Grail of Bonsai
PostPosted: Sat Sep 27, 2008 12:33 am 
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Location: NW Oregon
Louis Here are more thoughts and reply to Jason on my personal view about the importance of talent in great bonsai.

Louis - First of all one must have been exposed to trees in nature to know what trees really look like.
Jason - Yes, this is obvious. But not all bonsai are to look like trees in nature. Look to our friends in the East.

Louis - Talent is the natural ability to see a tree within a bush.
Jason - Or a developed eye that comes from always being around good quality bonsai. When your eye develops is when you “see” the tree in the tree. This is not talent. Again, Walter and Kimura didn’t wake up one day and see the tree in the tree. It took time to develop an eye.

Louis - Talent is the natural ability to use taught skills and acquired techniques to create and maintain a bush to look like the original vision of a tree.
Jason - Hmmm…..”talent is the natural ability to use taught skills and acquired techiniques to create an maintain….” I disagree here. Using taught skills is just that. If you were taught something and put it to use then you are applying what you learned. Nothing to do with talent. Anyone can create a bonsai, very few will create masterpiece bonsai and the ones that do will not do it on talent alone. I assure you of this.

Louis - I will concede that the more you do it the easier it becomes.
Jason - Yes it does and the more you do the faster you improve.

Louis - The role that good material plays in the creation of a masterpiece is that it makes it easier for the artist to create a masterpiece bonsai. A lot of time is being saved.

Jason - Time is a part of it sure but there are other parts as well. A 1000 year old yamadori that is going to be styled by a master has a very high chance to become a masterpiece. It does because the master picked it out based on the quality of the material. Yes much time is saved and in bonsai time is huge. Good material also assures a much better chance at becoming something special vs. lesser material. A master with lesser material will still produce a lesser tree than if he started with something good. Good material will save you time…..a few hundred years worth of time!

Louis - Must time be used as a measurement of talent?
Jason - No, talent has nothing to do with it but time is the difference in material from very high quality to normal material. A seedling will take a life time or more to become something truly special, like 200 years! That is why the best trees in the world by the best artist’s are very old collected material.


Louis - Talent is also the natural ability of a grower to use skills and techniques over a period of time to maintain and improve and develop a tree into a masterpiece.
Jason - This is basically the same statement made as above. Again, learned skills is what you are talking about. You would have had to learn those skills and techniques from somewhere. You weren’t born with knowing how to wire properly. Talent is one of many tools here.

Louis - On 20 September Jason wrote “Bonsai is a living breathing thing that the artist has to dominate to make his vision a reality. And it could take 25 years for that vision to come out in a living tree”

Louis - If I had been an extremely rich man in Japan with lots of bonsai and even people with years of experience in my employ, who would I use to improve a tree to be accepted for the Kokofu ten exhibitions?
Jason - That depends on who you like the most as an artist. Maybe you have the skill set to do the work yourself?? If not then you should look into hiring it out.

Louis - I would use the most talented artist I can find. Does Mr. Kimura do that for millionaires?
Jason - Sure he does, but you don’t have to be a millionaire to have Mr. Kimura work on your trees.

Louis - Millionaires know how to use talent that is why they are millionaires.
Jason - This comment had me laughing out loud. So, inorder to have talent or prove you are talented you have to be a millionaire? Not sure what you are trying to accomplish with such a statement. I know plenty of talented folks who are not millionaires.

Louis - If I had to choose one amongst techniques, skills, training, time, material or talent to improve my bonsai, I will make a grab for talent again and again.
Jason - That is what works for you. I would personally go after material. Even with skills, training, time and talent a crappy tree will still be a crappy tree. If you have the best material then you will have the best bonsai, even if that means having Mr. Kimura style it for you. He won’t style bad material. Again, talent is a part of the puzzle for sure, I never denied such. But it also takes techniques, skills, training, time and material for masterpiece bonsai to be produced.

Louis - I do not think people who agree 70% with Will are lesser bonsai practitioners; maybe they have more natural talent than they think they have but lack the enthusiasm to use it to its fullest.
Jason - Okay, I might be one who thinks he has little talent but there are a few big names pushing me to keep at it because they see something in me. I will tell you though what I may lack in talent I more then make up for in enthusiasm for bonsai. If you saw my collection 5 years ago when I started vs. today you would understand my level of enthusiasim, it is very high.
Regards

Louis

Best wishes to you Louis. How come you don’t sign up for an account on your own?

Jason


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 Post subject: Re: Talent - The Holy Grail of Bonsai
PostPosted: Mon Sep 29, 2008 2:24 pm 
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The way it appears to me is that skills are learnable and artistic talent (or any talent for that matter is inherent).

Material is critical - that must be obvious. Good material is the foundation to which talent must be applied. Michelangelo could not have created David out of decomposing granite or crumbling sandstone - he needed the best quality marble. Tremendous talent working on poor material will surely just make the best of a bad situation.

Skills are a key element as well - as are the tools to apply these skills.

I think that if you are highly skilled you can appraoch the level of artistry - but you will be bound by convention. An artist in my opinion breaks conventions and excels, forwarding their art and society as a whole. I believe that truely masterpiece bonsai are a combination of the three elements (material/skill and talent) but it is talent that propels you out of the elite in to a catgory of your own.

Look at any skill based arena - motor racing - there is only one Michael Schumacer. In the company of the worlds elite racing drivers, of our time, he is better than the rest. This is to say nothing of the leagues of preofessionals and amatuers that cannot reach these levels. He is not better than the rest due to better application of skills he has the unquantifiable something that is talent.

The same can arguement can be applied to anything that has a skill base. Over the years how many architects could produce building like Gaudi/Breuer/Llyod Wright - not many! These are people that have invoked artistic talent to take their skills to a new level.

It should be remembered that producing a bonsai using learned skills that is in the style of, or a copy of a Kimura or Pall masterpiece is not a master piece it is a skilled copy. The true art is in creating something that can be held up along side those guys work. It need not be even be remotely similar. Jackson Pollock and Rembrandt could hardly be more different. A tree that looks like a famous Pall pine is not a Pall pine it is a nice piece of craft that follows the trend of current bonsai design. A true artist can produce something completely different with artistic merits to match the best trees of today, without requiring to be a copy.

Of course to apply artistic skill - one needs good material and also skills. I have to agree though that without the talent part the best one can hope to achieve is either an excellant demonstration of skill or an imitation of what is currently considered the best.

Just some thoughts
Euan


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 Post subject: Re: Talent - The Holy Grail of Bonsai
PostPosted: Thu Oct 02, 2008 7:14 am 
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Joined: Wed Feb 20, 2008 7:35 pm
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Location: The Art of Bonsai Project
Sorry to use you through email to carry on this fascinating subject. I don’t have a computer at my disposal regularly and did not anticipate I will be answering answers.

I can only use personal experience to answer Jason’s arguments.

I think Jason doesn’t understand what I am trying to say.

I want to say that talent is not only confided to styling but to the whole bonsai experience. Styling, learning and applying technical skills, horticultural skills and general caring are individual elements of total talent.

A talented architect styles (designs) a building while other skilled craftsmen build it and he gets the recognition. A talented bonsai artist is expected to be able do everything.

I am a follower of John Naka and Walther Pall who are of the opinion that we must create bonsai that look like trees. During the last few years I have had the privilege to visit some of the high mountains of this world. The trees growing in the valleys of the Himalayas, the slopes of Mount Kenya and the rainforests of Mount Kilimanjaro have shown me a couple of tricks they use to survive which I think our friends from the East have not explored yet. The trees on the plains of the Serengeti grow differently in shape compared to trees of the Northern hemisphere. So, if trees from the East don’t seem familiar to you it is maybe because their images are not part of your memory bank.

Most of my trees I have dug from the bush and slopes of the mountains with other bonsai enthusiasts. I have seen beautiful material become mediocre bonsai and not so good material turned into spectacular bonsai. The difference; the talented people’s trees are seen at shows after a few years while some excellent material are never seen again.

My remarks about millionaires were actually to show I disagree with Will where he states “ Talent is inherent it cannot be learned, taught, bought, sold or acquired in any manner whatsoever” The best talent can be hired. I showed you a tree in the bush, you did not recognize it because you were busy laughing.

Thanks to Jason who got me thinking and laughing at myself again. Does Jason live very far from Mount McKinley?

Regards

Louis Nel


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