I apologize for the previous post. I got the memo after posting a few times about using my full name and maintaining a certain degree of professionalism when composing a post for this site.
What I meant to say in a more drawn out way is that the rules set down by the Japanese over the past few hundred years are great to learn in terms of the basic styles and techniques, but I see them as a good starting point; not gospel. I have taken some classes from Warren Hill in Tennessee as well as Joe Harris out in Oregon. Both (especially Joe) are adamant about sticking close to Japanese traditions, but I feel that the Art of Bonsai is a more personal endeavor based on my experience and ideals of nature. I hate to be too corny on this site but Mr. Muyagi in The Karate Kid movie said it best "when you close your eyes, what tree do you see? Now make that tree".
I am not a militant bonsai artist, just someone tired of seeing perfectly good plants being mutilated by ignorant people. I'm sure any good bonsai enthusiast would denounce my trees, but I was mainly aiming such a statement toward the average person not versed in proper gardening procedure.
I will try in the future to have a little more tact in my posts and keep a certain level of professionalism when stating my opinions.
*personal information containing address and phone number removed. Name, City, state, and email is sufficient for any purpose. More personal information can be shared by PM if needed. - mgt