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artofbonsai.org • View topic - Critique: Walter Pall's Norway Spruce
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 Post subject: Critique: Walter Pall's Norway Spruce
PostPosted: Sun May 07, 2006 1:21 am 
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This thread is for discussing Will Heath's critique of Walter Pall's Norway Spruce.
http://www.artofbonsai.org/critiques/walter.php


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PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2006 2:28 am 
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PostPosted: Tue May 09, 2006 8:33 am 
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PostPosted: Tue May 09, 2006 2:05 pm 
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There is nothing wrong with the rule mentioned here: the one stating that if there is a secondary trunk, that should start at the ground level. The purpose of that guideline is to ensure that a tree has only one trunk line.

The reason for this is that a single trunk line has no distractions and the flow is uninterrupted. Keeping it simple and uncluttered, is the key objective of this rule.

If the other trunk starts at the ground level, that is considered a second tree, so its trunk line is somewhat independent from the first one, and thus less chance for negative interference.

This is a general guideline, such as the one saying that a simple, minimalistic branch structure is much more preferred in bonsai than an overly complex one. Examples from Zen art, such as rock gardens, bunjin style, and tea ceremony are consistent with this minimalist taste.
So, again, this rule is just saying "keep it simple", or "trees with multiple trunks can become clumsy and confusing".

Having said that, nature is full of complexities, such as auxiliary trunks. In order to represent it successfully, this poses a little bit of challenge to the artist. There is more room to go wrong. But it doesn't mean that it can't be done. And it certainly doesn't mean that the artist has to follow a rule just for the rule's sake.

This tree works very well for me. Walter used the auxiliary trunk to create an interesting composition, without being disruptive.

The comment that the tree looks good because it follows the growth pattern of many trees in nature is not the best one, in my opinion. Similarly, I wouldn't say that a painting is good because it looks life-like (a cheap camera can do that better).

It sounds good, and I want my trees to follow nature as much as possible. But there could be just as many examples of bad looking bonsai that follow the trees in nature. That's because nature has no taste, it has good looking trees as well as really awkward-looking ones.


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PostPosted: Wed May 10, 2006 2:33 pm 
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I haven't heard of a formal definition of twin-trunk, but it's all right with me. Obviously, a twin-trunk will have two trunk lines, by definition.

I am not sure how we differ on this tree, it seems like you and I both like it, so we must be on the same page.

But going back to the rule requiring that if there is a second trunk, it must start at the ground level, this rule wants to prevent things like the slingshot formation, where the eye doesn't know which trunk line to follow. Of course, rules have no sense of subtleties and artistic ingenuity, and that's why an artist always has the freedom to create something different.


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I haven't heard of a formal definition of twin-trunk, but it's all right with me. Obviously, a twin-trunk will have two trunk lines, by definition.

I am not sure how we differ on this tree, it seems like you and I both like it, so we must be on the same page.

But going back to the rule requiring that if there is a second trunk, it must start at the ground level, this rule wants to prevent things like the slingshot formation, where the eye doesn't know which trunk line to follow. Of course, rules have no sense of subtleties and artistic ingenuity, and that's why an artist always has the freedom to create something different.


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PostPosted: Thu May 11, 2006 8:02 am 
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Attila,
We agree that we like the tree, but we differ on the rule about twin-trunks and the need for the split to be at ground level. I PREFER that in most cases, but a high split on an otherwise expertly styled bonsai is not something I summarily dismiss because it violated the "rule". That is what I'm expounding on.
John


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Thu May 11, 2006 11:13 am 
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 Post subject: .....
PostPosted: Tue May 16, 2006 4:06 pm 
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Let me preface this by stating that I have a deep respect for Herr Pall and find his work to be a major inspiration for both my bonsai practice as well as my paintings. This specific tree, however, leaves me flat. I don't think that its faults lie in any violation of the traditional 'rules' of bonsai, but in more basic aesthetic principles. The details of the tree are near perfect as far as I can tell: the trunk and branch structures are well formed and consistent, the bark is textured well and fits what seems to be the image of a wild, old mountain conifer (I wish that I were currently cabable of such technical mastery of bonsai). However, while the details are splendid, the devil is not in the the details. The overall outline of the tree is flat and almost exactly symmetrical. In addition, the tree is planted pretty much dead-center in the pot. Both of these choices work against the image of a dramatic, wild tree. The "before" image posted by Herr Pall, while much less refined and finished, seems to present a much more consistent image, due to its sparseness and asymmetry. With only a few relatively minor cuts and a slight shift in potted postition, the current bonsai could quickly move into a class with several other of Pall's amazing vertically-styled spruces.

By the way, I happen to very much enjoy secondary trunks (or vertical branches, same thing) that start well above the soil line.

---Jonathan Espalin
www.jonathanespalin.com
jvespalin@yahoo.com


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 Post subject: Re: .....
PostPosted: Tue May 16, 2006 6:21 pm 
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 Post subject: Judging by scheme...
PostPosted: Thu May 18, 2006 4:28 am 
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 15, 2006 12:05 pm 
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Here are two pictues as of middle of July 2006. The tree has two almost equally good fronts.


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