A bonsai that looks like a tree

Attila Soos

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This tree is from a book cover. The book has nothing to do with bonsai.

It looks like a bad bonsai, because it doesn't follow any design suggestion. It has multiple apexes, competing with each other. The trunks look very similar, almost parallel. The shape of the tree is very awkward, there is no triangle, no dome, no rounded apex - it is a flat top that is slanted. It has no first branch...in fact, most of the branches seem to grow straight up. From a bonsai perspective, it will be very unconfortable to critique this tree.

And yet, in spite of all the above, the tree is interesting, dynamic, pleasing to look at, fresh, great movement, lots of energy.

It think this is a perfect example that a bonsai has one rule only, in order to be great: grasp your imagination.
If you tried to change this tree to look like a bonsai - tame it, so to speak - you would ruin it.

It doesn't fit into any known bonsai style. May be we can call it "free style bonsai". It is somewhat akin to literati, but not quite. It is also somewhat like a penjing.

May be one of you could photoshop it into a bonsai pot?

Once it is in a bonsai pot, let me know what you think.
 

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Tachigi

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Never been one much for flat tops....till now!
 

AlainK

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Very nice drawing.

I think that the trees in the background are essential to the balance of the design. Hence, doing a virtual with the main tree would be a vain attempt.

The stub on the right is continued by the words "A NOVEL". It gives the impression of either dead wood or a branch with a few leaves. In any case, the design was cut to fit the text here I think.

Same with the top : it lays horizontal so that it underlines the title. Maybe the tree(s) the artist got his inspiration from had a slightly different top.

I think this tree is as good as one in a tokoname : remove the rest, and it won't look as good.
 

Attila Soos

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Very nice drawing.

I think that the trees in the background are essential to the balance of the design. Hence, doing a virtual with the main tree would be a vain attempt.

The stub on the right is continued by the words "A NOVEL". It gives the impression of either dead wood or a branch with a few leaves. In any case, the design was cut to fit the text here I think.

Same with the top : it lays horizontal so that it underlines the title. Maybe the tree(s) the artist got his inspiration from had a slightly different top.

I think this tree is as good as one in a tokoname : remove the rest, and it won't look as good.
Yes, the tree may have had a slightly different form, and edited to fit the text. But I am looking at it as it is now, regardless of how it has been.

The trees in the background add a nice perspective and depth to the image, but I think the tree can stand on its own.

But that's why I would love to see someone add a bonsai pot and clear the background, to see how it looks. I am very clumsy with photoshop.

(BTW, I am not sure whether it's a drawing or a picture. To me, it could be both.)
 

J W

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At first looking at this tree it reminded me of Harry Harrington. Out of respect for him and the other people that try to grow the knowledge of Bonsai I will not copy his picture. But I feel it is okay to give his link. If you look at the 16th picture down I trust you will see what I was thinking. I guess if you see it as I do we would need to know the date of publication of the book or actually picture and the date of the tree to figure out who is copying who. Or could it actually be that there are people out there doing bonsai that look like real tree's and deserve a little more credit. I know this could go on for ever about rules, pictures and so on. But this one made me laugh when you asked for a virt and received criticism of the work instead. http://www.bonsai4me.com/gallery.htm

http://www.bonsai4me.com/gallery.htm

Sorry not sure which link will work...
JW
 

bonsaimeister

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Hi Attila,

Thanks for sharing this. Perhaps you can have a look in the book, and let us know who did the cover illustration? Very nice indeed.

Best Regards,
BM
 

Tachigi

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I would love to see someone add a bonsai pot and clear the background, to see how it looks.
Just for you Attila! Now I gotta find some material to make this virt a reality :) To me there is only one choice of pot...thanks Walter!
 

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grizzlywon

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I just bought Robert Steven's book, "vision of my soul" and he talks about somethings this tree exhibits. Especially the parallel top right branches. I love the section of his book that talks all about how we can break many of the rules and still have beautiful trees.

I would like to get Walter Paul's take on it. Like why it works? Or if he thinks it works.

When I look at it, it reminds me of trees in Australia or Africa. Is there a style that describes this type of tree? I would assume that the Asian founders of bonsai didn't have trees like these in their country, so it is a different style. You guys know better than I do.
 

Tachigi

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It looks like a bad bonsai, because it doesn't follow any design suggestion. It has multiple apexes, competing with each other. The trunks look very similar, almost parallel. The shape of the tree is very awkward, there is no triangle, no dome, no rounded apex - it is a flat top that is slanted. It has no first branch...in fact, most of the branches seem to grow straight up......

And yet, in spite of all the above, the tree is interesting, dynamic, pleasing to look at, fresh, great movement, lots of energy.

It think this is a perfect example that a bonsai has one rule only, in order to be great: grasp your imagination.

It doesn't fit into any known bonsai style. May be we can call it "free style bonsai". It is somewhat akin to literati, but not quite. It is also somewhat like a penjing.

Once it is in a bonsai pot, let me know what you think.

Attila I don't think it needs a first branch, or any of the other things that should qualify it as a bonsai. For me, while doing the photoshop, my attention kept being drawn back to the trunk. From top to bottom it was strong enough to overcome all the other accessories we link to a bonsai, while still holding my interest. The minimal foliage and the hint of branches were just enough highlight to the trunk to make this image a strong one.
 

Attila Soos

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Just for you Attila! Now I gotta find some material to make this virt a reality :) To me there is only one choice of pot...thanks Walter!
Wow, Tom. You did a top-notch job on this.

Absolutely fantastic look, I love it.

Just like you, I will keep the image in mind, and will try to create something similar when I come across the right material.
 

Attila Soos

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I just bought Robert Steven's book, "vision of my soul" and he talks about somethings this tree exhibits. Especially the parallel top right branches. I love the section of his book that talks all about how we can break many of the rules and still have beautiful trees.
Yes, I remember that section of the book, where he shows some modest material turn into very interesting creations. I need to re-read his book again, he has some great ideas.
 

Attila Soos

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Attila I don't think it needs a first branch, or any of the other things that should qualify it as a bonsai. For me, while doing the photoshop, my attention kept being drawn back to the trunk. From top to bottom it was strong enough to overcome all the other accessories we link to a bonsai, while still holding my interest. The minimal foliage and the hint of branches were just enough highlight to the trunk to make this image a strong one.
I agree. The central feature of this tree is the "triple trunk line". The branches on the lower part are just accessories.

When I think about what I would have done with this tree, I realize that I would have left the first trunk on the left (the little one), and I would have cut off one of the other two right away, without even thinking too much. This is a knee-jerk reaction from my bonsai training, and following bonsai-conventions. Now I realize that cutting off one of the trunks would still produce a decent tree, but not nearly as original and interesting.

What I 've learned from this, is that in the future I need to really consider all the options, and make a better effort to use my imagination before I cut off a major branch. Also, I should have my sketch pad ready all the time, to put it down on paper these options.

I also want to point out that although the branches on the lower part of the tree are very inconspicuous, the top part of the crown is full of grace, and masterfully done. It is not a haphazard tangle of small branches, but a very picturesque arrangement.
 
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