All this critiquing...can someone show me a tree that is perfect

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#1
So the thread of what bonsai inspires you...and your best tree. Sort of went into a critiquing of what one seen as flaws in a person's chosen inspirational bonsai. Which had me thinking...I believe to a degree ALL/MOST trees would hold some flaw. They are a living thing we are offering bonsai techniques to...to get to a desired finish. But...there are something's that...the tree has, that with technique the flaw goes away to a degree. (Depending on the flaw...you still want to start with somewhat decent material.)

But can someone show me a tree without flaw? Do they exist? That said...when pointing out a flaw in say...superb material...maybe a twist is to share why one feels the piece's overall appearance trumps the flaw to other viewers. If one can critique...take it to the next level...explain to us...why ones can still admire it. Is it the strengths of the tree that pulls it off? What are the strengths of said tree?

Food for thought...
 

Anthony

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#2
Darlene,

since Bonsai uses some of the guidelines of sculpture, there will be a great side, a good side, a plain side and
a not so great side.
Please also remember the tree outgrows the design.

The photo is the only permanent.

To appreciate ---------

[1] See tree as a mass / shape /generalised colour from at least 3 times the greatest distance [ height/width ].
[2] Walk closer appreciate the positive and negative spaces.
[3] Walk closer and if need be sniff --------------- branches, trunk, root
[4] Branchlets / leaves

Step back, close eyes, and drink it all in. How do you feel?

Any folk around to start a discussion ?
Share dah experience.

Good Day
Anthony
 

Adair M

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#3
So the thread of what bonsai inspires you...and your best tree. Sort of went into a critiquing of what one seen as flaws in a person's chosen inspirational bonsai. Which had me thinking...I believe to a degree ALL/MOST trees would hold some flaw. They are a living thing we are offering bonsai techniques to...to get to a desired finish. But...there are something's that...the tree has, that with technique the flaw goes away to a degree. (Depending on the flaw...you still want to start with somewhat decent material.)

But can someone show me a tree without flaw? Do they exist? That said...when pointing out a flaw in say...superb material...maybe a twist is to share why one feels the piece's overall appearance trumps the flaw to other viewers. If one can critique...take it to the next level...explain to us...why ones can still admire it. Is it the strengths of the tree that pulls it off? What are the strengths of said tree?

Food for thought...
That's another judgement thing, Darlene. A feature that some might consider a flaw is "character" to others.

I think any tree can be improved. As part of our studies at Boon's we analyze Kokofu winning trees, and determine what can make them better!

And I suppose that's part of the appeal of bonsai. They're always changing. At any given time, they're changing for the better, or changing for the worse. Our job is to direct that change.
 
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#6
So the thread of what bonsai inspires you...and your best tree. Sort of went into a critiquing of what one seen as flaws in a person's chosen inspirational bonsai. Which had me thinking...I believe to a degree ALL/MOST trees would hold some flaw. They are a living thing we are offering bonsai techniques to...to get to a desired finish. But...there are something's that...the tree has, that with technique the flaw goes away to a degree. (Depending on the flaw...you still want to start with somewhat decent material.)

But can someone show me a tree without flaw? Do they exist? That said...when pointing out a flaw in say...superb material...maybe a twist is to share why one feels the piece's overall appearance trumps the flaw to other viewers. If one can critique...take it to the next level...explain to us...why ones can still admire it. Is it the strengths of the tree that pulls it off? What are the strengths of said tree?

Food for thought...
Personally I don't think one exists. I don't think there is an example of any one perfect thing of any description in existence. Over the last several years the concept of Chaos theory and Fractal Geometry have proven that the real world exists and functions in a state of disorder and that a perfect relationship would look unnatural. So it would seem we have to have some sort of living relationship with the beauty of imperfection around us. The reality comes down to a musical metaphore actually. In composition a device called a suspension is used to make a point, or to produce a sweetness by accenting something unsweet. Sweet and Sour sauce. It is the comparison and the desire to have the dissonance resolved that creates the sweetness of the suspension. In Bonsai there are similar events that take place visually. Nature does not have any thing that is perfectly balanced that does not look strange. Look at the Northfolk Island Pine. It is beautiful in an odd way but has anyone actually seen a good bonsai made of one?
 
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#7
As part of our studies at Boon's we analyze Kokofu winning trees, and determine what can make them better!
Yeah, this is awesome. At a local club meeting Cheryl Manning did the same thing. She showed Kokofu trees and asked us to analyze and criticize them - I was amazed how reticent some club members were; I'm still not sure if they couldn't see the room for improvement or were afraid to offer criticism.
 

Bonsai Nut

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#9
I don't think you are striving for "perfection" in bonsai. The entire concept of wabi-sabi is one of imperfection and impermanence. Patina... age through use... the visual representation of time.

I guess I would best describe it as evoking a strong emotional response through the presentation of imperfect things.
 
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#11
@Vance Wood ...good points brought out. And that pine you had me look up. Never knew such a tree existed!


My thought process last night:
I think some find critiquing a slap in the face...when it's not. No tree is perfect. It doesn't mean your tree isn't worth a hill of beans. (Though...let's be honest...I have a few trees that went to my landscape from not having a good eye early on.) We all strive to take it to the next level. Somethings might be able to be tweaked that we may have had blinders and not seen. Where in critiquing is very rewarding in a sense. Other flaws as Adair points out...may actually add the character that sets it apart from the next of its species on the table beside it. That said...we can still find beauty in the trees that inspired us. Even when another wishes to point out its faults.
 

Bonsai Nut

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#13
Here is a quick reference. I actually have this on a card that I print out when I am doing bonsai presentations for groups:

Wabi-sabi (侘寂) represents a comprehensive Japanese world view or aesthetic centered on the acceptance of transience. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is "imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete". If an object can bring about, within us, a sense of serene melancholy and a spiritual longing, then that object could be said to be wabi-sabi.
 

Anthony

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#14
If you re-read, what I left above, it is to allow one to appreciate work in an effort.

We don't look for perfection, just how it affects us ----- memories ----- experiences etc.

I can give you a fish, and when you hunger you will end up on my doorstep
Or I can teach you how to fish.,

If you can't appreciate an effort, all you can do is criticise.
Good Day
Anthony

* It is pointless to critique Kokofu, unless you know how the judges thought.

Bnut ---------- becareful, an IBCer once left the opinions of Japanese Architects from the 50 /60's
on Wabi, Sabi ---------- turned out to be nothing more than poor folk fooling themselves with the
old ------------ less is more, because I can't afford more and this is how I fool myself.
Very lacking in ambition.
 

Bonsai Nut

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Bnut ---------- becareful, an IBCer once left the opinions of Japanese Architects from the 50 /60's on Wabi, Sabi ---------- turned out to be nothing more than poor folk fooling themselves with the old ------------ less is more, because I can't afford more and this is how I fool myself. Very lacking in ambition.
Haha... well there is a huge difference between describing an aesthetic, and justifying one :) I don't doubt that the idea of wabi-sabi is not for everyone. However it is very present in their culture - in their garden design - in their tea ceremony - in bonsai.

Contrast Japanese gardens to English gardens (in their stereotypical forms).

Can you put a tree in a stainless steel pot and call it "bonsai"? Absolutely. Does stainless steel capture the essence of nature? Or more importantly, would it capture it as well as taking the same tree and potting it up in a rusting soup can, or an old roof tile?
 
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#17
If you re-read, what I left above, it is to allow one to appreciate work in an effort.

We don't look for perfection, just how it affects us ----- memories ----- experiences etc.

I can give you a fish, and when you hunger you will end up on my doorstep
Or I can teach you how to fish.,

If you can't appreciate an effort, all you can do is criticise.
Good Day
Anthony
@Anthony ...good points.

The maple I used for my inspiration...I've been told by a few...the base of the tree on the left is not of a true raft. Yet...the entire piece works for me. I love everything about this piece. What I love...I love this even more without a single leaf on it.
image.jpg
 

Anthony

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#18
I can place a Bonsai in a stainless steel pot that has a finish other than a shiny cooking pot finish.
It's the finish of the steel that makes the difference.
Probably have trouble competing with the old roof tile.

Rusting soup can. hmm, open out and trim to a design.

BUT for me in this case a square is a square, I have 3 x 2 feet of sand and I am okay with saying that is
all I have or can afford.
BUT if you know me, I would just trudge off to the Jungle and wattle and daub tidily to make a great
looking elegant cottage.:)
Great talking to you.
Good Day
Anthony
 

Anthony

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#19
Darlene,

cool effort !

Simple call it ----------------- Fallen Tree in Galadriel"s realm.
Forget the - raft part --- and I ain't talking fairy tale bonsai but Fairie bonsai.
Good Day
Anthony
 
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#20
I'm assuming perfect means "without flaw" in this case. In bonsai, flaws are based on man-made standards formed over centuries of tradition and experience that frequently evolve with trends and new knowledge. So I feel like a "perfect" bonsai does not fall short of any of these standards, some of which may contradict one another. Sounds like quite a challenge.

Then, there's the subjectivity of what is aesthetically pleasing. Some favor more balance and order, some favor more tension and chaos.

So, until there is a universally agreed-upon list of standards that covers every single aspect of every species, size classification, style, and season, perfection might be hard to put a finger on.

I'm so okay with that. I became fascinated with bonsai not because I wanted to be victorious and one day have the world's best tree, but because I realized that I could have creative control over a tree that would naturally grow too large and be too anchored to carry around and display. Other trees that inspire me are just that, inspiration. No tree will be an exact copy of another, but it may look similar because the inspired artist wanted to learn how to capture a feeling that he/she saw in it.

Those are just my thoughts today. These discussions have really made me think!

Happy Friday :)