Comparing Painting and Bonsai

johng

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I want to know when we are going to stop comparing Bonsai to Painting.

Is it just me, or does anyone else see the fallacy of these comparisons?

Yes, they are both considered art, but the similarities stop right there. Comparing to sculpture doesn't work either. In my book, if you base your arguments on a faulty analogy or comparison nothing you say after that means anything.

From what little I know, the vast majority of "masterpiece" trees in Japan have had many "artists" work on them and change hands routinely. These folks aren't just hanging them on a wall or locking them away in some safe. Instead these trees are cared for on daily basis most often with an eye to make them better at every opportunity. Occasionally a brave artist comes along and completely redesigns one... When has this ever been the case for painting? ...its always one and done! Paintings are never three-dimensional. And, the little notion of being alive and continually growing and changing seems to allude these comparisons. How can you meaningfully compare two things that are so different and expect anyone to be convinced by the argument?

Lastly...

In the "some times you are just in awe" thread, the discussion about "cookie cutter" trees is laughable! The trees posted in that thread are so far beyond what the majority of folks commenting on that thread will ever own, let alone create, it is just beyond hilarious that they would have the audacity to make some of the comments that have been made (pom-pom...are you kidding me). What no one seems to factor into the cookie cutter argument is the characteristics of the species...JBP are always going to look like JBP...

I am all for discussing trees...how else are we going to grow...but I just think we should be realistic.

John
 

JasonG

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I want to know when we are going to stop comparing Bonsai to Painting.

Is it just me, or does anyone else see the fallacy of these comparisons?

Yes, they are both considered art, but the similarities stop right there. Comparing to sculpture doesn't work either. In my book, if you base your arguments on a faulty analogy or comparison nothing you say after that means anything.

From what little I know, the vast majority of "masterpiece" trees in Japan have had many "artists" work on them and change hands routinely. These folks aren't just hanging them on a wall or locking them away in some safe. Instead these trees are cared for on daily basis most often with an eye to make them better at every opportunity. Occasionally a brave artist comes along and completely redesigns one... When has this ever been the case for painting? ...its always one and done! Paintings are never three-dimensional. And, the little notion of being alive and continually growing and changing seems to allude these comparisons. How can you meaningfully compare two things that are so different and expect anyone to be convinced by the argument?
Thank You, Thank You and Thank You!!! I couldn't agree with you more! I have often thought the same thing, the comparison of bonsai and painting or bonsai and any other art form is crazy. Trying to say the same artistic principles that apply to other art forms apply to bonsai as well... is laughable!

Lastly...

In the "some times you are just in awe" thread, the discussion about "cookie cutter" trees is laughable! The trees posted in that thread are so far beyond what the majority of folks commenting on that thread will ever own, let alone create, it is just beyond hilarious that they would have the audacity to make some of the comments that have been made (pom-pom...are you kidding me). What no one seems to factor into the cookie cutter argument is the characteristics of the species...JBP are always going to look like JBP...

I am all for discussing trees...how else are we going to grow...but I just think we should be realistic.

John
Yes, that is basically what I was trying to get at without coming right out and saying it. Although, I did say it but it got shot down. I think if you are going to trash something you better be able to produce better then the subject bieng bad mouthed. You are right, no one who has posted anything bad to say has the skills to make that happen.

Thanks for pointing all this out....

Jason
 

JTGJr25

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John, you could not have said that any better. I thank you as well.


Tom
 
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Sorry guys, basic artistic principles apply to all art forms, such as can be found in sculpture, painting, and bonsai.

Bonsai does not have a monopoly on aesthetics and comparing one art form to another can bring a better understanding. This is especially true in the case of bonsai, which does not have a long history of being an accepted art form. Comparing bonsai to other art forms, which have already set a solid foundation, gives us direction.

What would you have us use as comparison? Gardening? Topiary? Bowling? Needle Point?

But you're right in one way, we would be better off using sculpture as a comparison, as I stated in this article http://artofbonsai.org/feature_articles/livingsculpture.php


Enjoy,


Will
 

JasonG

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How can a 2 dimensional artform compare to a 3 dimensional artform? Painting vs bonsai or painting vs. sculpture?

Sculpture is kind of one of those one and done type things. Once it is sculpted it is done and will never change unless it is broken. Bonsai is ever changing and from day to day it has changed to some degree. What other art form changes like this? What other artform is constantly evolving and requires different techniques and skills applied to it at certain times of the year, changing seasons?

Bonsai is it's own animal that changes by the day..... Then there is the other approach~

But then again, if you have an eye for bonsai and finding the tree in the tree then artistic principles go out the window and you create good bonsai thus bringing out the best in the tree......Kimura and Walter don't read an artisitic principle manual before styling a tree. They style the tree with what they see in it. I can hear Walter now, "No David, you can't put a branch there! You are not applying artistic fundamentals in the proper fashion!" haha

I say who cares about principles, create good bonsai then you won't have to worry about it, right?

Jason
 

johng

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Sorry guys, basic artistic principles apply to all art forms, such as can be found in sculpture, painting, and bonsai.
Exactly...same BASIC artistic principles that is why they are both considered art...but in the case of bonsai the principles are applied to a living, 3 dimensional object...there is absolutely a tremendous difference...enough of one that comparing to the two forms does not add validity to any argument in my opinion.

What would you have us use as comparison? Gardening? Topiary? Bowling? Needle Point?
Now you are just being smart ass! There is no need that for that here.
John
 

johng

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Thank you Jason and Tom... I knew there had to be others for which these comparisons to painting didn't sit well. I do agree that the living aspect of bonsai makes it difficult to accurately compare to other art forms. However, just because there is little to compare bonsai to does not justify invalid comparisons.
John
 

emk

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I want to know when we are going to stop comparing Bonsai to Painting.
Just as soon as we stop trying to argue that bonsai is art. It's a comparison all artforms have to deal with since painting is perhaps the most primative and most easily accessible form of art and thereby the form people are most familiar with.

Yes, they are both considered art, but the similarities stop right there.
Sure, if you don't want to talk about artistic merit, you needn't bring up painting at all. But, you shouldn't be surprised that once you start discussing aesthetics that people bring up the artform they are most comfortable relating to in order to conceptualize what they see happening in your chosen artform.

I bring this up because I've heard the same woeful complaint in my field of architecture whenever people try to compare it to painting or sculpture as well.
 
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EMK,

Good points.


As to the rest...


I want to know when we are going to stop comparing Bonsai to Painting.

Is it just me, or does anyone else see the fallacy of these comparisons?

Yes, they are both considered art, but the similarities stop right there. Comparing to sculpture doesn't work either. In my book, if you base your arguments on a faulty analogy or comparison nothing you say after that means anything... How can you meaningfully compare two things that are so different and expect anyone to be convinced by the argument?
How can a 2 dimensional artform compare to a 3 dimensional artform? Painting vs bonsai or painting vs. sculpture?
Exactly...same BASIC artistic principles that is why they are both considered art...but in the case of bonsai the principles are applied to a living, 3 dimensional object...there is absolutely a tremendous difference...enough of one that comparing to the two forms does not add validity to any argument in my opinion.
Oh my, someone doesn't know their bonsai history.

The fact is John is that when bonsai were first being refined in China, artists often looked to paintings for inspiration and guidance. Bonsai/Penjing were often referred to as living paintings at that time and still often are in some countries

The literati style is a direct result of creating in three dimension what existed in two dimensions. The Literati tried to duplicate with real trees, the amazing trees depicted in paintings.

The Mustard Seed Garden Manual Of Painting was a great source of inspiration and information to many bonsaists in Asia.

Qingquan Zhao's book, "Penjing: Worlds of Wonderment" often compares bonsai and painting and he gives us a great history of the two art forms relying on each other.

So it would seem that painting and bonsai have been linked together and compared together for hundreds of years. Masters of the art still do so to this day, it would seem the comparisons are indeed valid in many ways.

May I suggest the following books?

"The Mustard Seed Garden Manual Of Painting"
"Penjing: Worlds of Wonderment"
'BONSAI: Its Art, Science, History, & Philosophy'

And for the record, no one compared the techniques of painting to the techniques of bonsai, what was compared in the "Awe" thread was one art forms creative creation process to another, particularly the trend toward cookie cutter production. House building, sculpture, or other things could have just as readily be used in comparison. All would have been just as valid.


Lastly...

In the "some times you are just in awe" thread, the discussion about "cookie cutter" trees is laughable! The trees posted in that thread are so far beyond what the majority of folks commenting on that thread will ever own, let alone create, .....no one who has posted anything bad to say has the skills to make that happen.

John,

You just disqualified yourself from discussing this, or are you exempt from your "rules" as well? Take your rant on painting and bonsai quoted above, by your own logic, you are not qualified to have an opinion. Do you have the skills and talent to talk down the bonsai/painting comparison that such greats as Brook talks about often?


What is laughable is your attempt to censor discussion based on experience. Will you be the judge on who is qualified to discuss anything on this forum? What are your qualifications as a selection judge? Should we all pm you first to see what is allowed?

Silly, isn't it? John, if you disagree with the subject, debate it intelligently, but don't attack the participants, that is a juvenile tactic and it carries no weight.
 
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johng

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Will...you are so good at turning things around to your benefit with your fluffy words. I am not even going to attempt to argue with you, I should have known better. You can put one more notch in your belt of people that you have driven away from posting on Bonsai forums

I bow down to you Will...you are the be all to end all when it comes to bonsai knowledge especially when it comes to artistic principles.

I crown you KING of the INTERNET Bonsai Masters...even if you won't share any pictures of trees that might back up all your rhetoric.

Thanks for setting me straight!
John
 
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Will...you are so good at turning things around to your benefit with your fluffy words. I am not even going to attempt to argue with you, I should have known better. You can put one more notch in your belt of people that you have driven away from posting on Bonsai forums
Or....you could back up your words with sources, references, and facts. My "fluffy" words were supported by history and the words of Brook. I would be more than happy to pursue this subject and even be proved wrong, but I'm afraid it will take more than your insults to do so.

Is it that difficult to stick to the subject and support your claims with solid information, or is it just easier to run when confronted?

For the record, it was you that launched an outright attack on the practice of comparing bonsai to painting, using such derogatory words as "laughable" I simply supported the opposite side, backed by facts. I hardly see posting the other side of a debate as "turning around" anything. Such exchanges are what sorts through the garbage of unsupported claims and unsupported opinion. It is called debating and such has been a valid form of education since the beginning of time, in fact most of our modern laws, policies, and moral thinking can be directly tied to such debates in the past.

You seem incapable of having an intelligent debate on the subject matter, instead perferring to turn it personal. This accomplishes nothing.

By the way, losing those few people that voice harsh, insult driven, opinions that they can not support is not all that bad of a thing.

I bow down to you Will...you are the be all to end all when it comes to bonsai knowledge especially when it comes to artistic principles.
Nope, I just am able to support my beliefs....where I come from, doing any less is simply talking out of the wrong end of your body.

I crown you KING of the INTERNET Bonsai Masters...even if you won't share any pictures of trees that might back up all your rhetoric.
I have posted pictures of my bonsai, often in fact. But the truth is that my trees have absolutely nothing to do with the subject. I could have the worst trees in the world and still be right, or the best trees and still be wrong. As I said before, I don't need to know how to design a power plant to know that sticking my finger in a outlet is a bad idea.

Thanks for setting me straight!
My pleasure.



Will
 
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Will...you are so good at turning things around to your benefit with your fluffy words. I am not even going to attempt to argue with you, I should have known better. You can put one more notch in your belt of people that you have driven away from posting on Bonsai forums

I bow down to you Will...you are the be all to end all when it comes to bonsai knowledge especially when it comes to artistic principles.

I crown you KING of the INTERNET Bonsai Masters...even if you won't share any pictures of trees that might back up all your rhetoric.

Thanks for setting me straight!
John
John, don't sweat it. And don't stop using the internet forums, just don't feed the trolls. Someone recently remarked to me that a certain troll is "book smart." But really, the ability to parrot things back and cut-and-paste isn't even "book smart." One has to be able to absorb information and synthesize it into something new and personal for it to become one's own.

Your own participation in threads I have seen have shown me your passion, skill, and knowledge of bonsai. Please keep on doing what you are doing.

Chris
 

johng

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Thank you Chris...
John
 

johng

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Will... I know there is no chance that I, or anybody, will ever have the last word in a "discussion" with you, but I would like it to be understood that I am choosing not to continue this discussion with you.

John
 
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Will... I know there is no chance that I, or anybody, will ever have the last word in a "discussion" with you, but I would like it to be understood that I am choosing not to continue this discussion with you.
I understand that when your opinion was challenged with facts, you threw a fit and then refused to continue the debate in an intelligent manner, resorting instead to insults and personal references. I am also certain that the posts in this thread will bear witness to this.

Back to the subject....Comparing painting to bonsai is a time honored practice, based on the intertwined history of bonsai and painting. This comparison is still being used today by some of the greatest bonsai artists, and contrary to your opinion, it is a valid comparison.


Will
 
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John, don't sweat it. And don't stop using the Internet forums, just don't feed the trolls. Someone recently remarked to me that a certain troll is "book smart." But really, the ability to parrot things back and cut-and-paste isn't even "book smart." One has to be able to absorb information and synthesize it into something new and personal for it to become one's own.
Chris,

When I am talking about you, I use your name and say what I have to say directly to you, please have the common decency to do the same.

Book smart, genius, or otherwise, I am able to support my claims intelligently and without personal attacks. Your method seems to be now, and always has been, to ignore the subject matter and focus on the person. This is certainly not a means to debate a subject and glean the truth of the matter, in fact, as far as intelligent debate goes, it is useless.

In example, instead of contributing to the subject matter, you resorted to calling names and inferring a lack of intelligence and you choose to post derogatory statements that neither support nor discredit any claims made in the thread. In fact, your post above meets the very definition of "trolling" itself.

May I suggest that you refrain from trying to incite and instead either add to the discussion or ignore it. That is, if you are indeed capable of intelligent discussion without attacking the people having it.

Honesty, do you really feel exchanges such as the fictional one below adds anything to the community?


A Poster - "I Think Bonsai is just a hobby and not art at all."

B Poster - "If that were so, why is it commonly accepted as an art form around the world?"

A Poster - "What do you know, your trees suck and your sister burnt breakfast."

B Poster - "I know that the following artists, critics, and bonsaists all believe it to be so and that major institutions around the world have featured bonsai as an art form, and this art critic from New York has agreed that bonsai is a valid form of art."

A Poster - "You're such an arrogant snob, know it all, your trees suck and your mother hates you. Ah the hell with it, I quit, congratulations for forcing me to leave all the forums......you're always starting fights, you should be banned."


I know the above account is silly, but is it really and sillier than the ones below from this thread?


I want to know when we are going to stop comparing Bonsai to Painting.

Is it just me, or does anyone else see the fallacy of these comparisons?

Yes, they are both considered art, but the similarities stop right there. Comparing to sculpture doesn't work either. In my book, if you base your arguments on a faulty analogy or comparison nothing you say after that means anything.

.... How can you meaningfully compare two things that are so different and expect anyone to be convinced by the argument?

Lastly...

In the "some times you are just in awe" thread, the discussion about "cookie cutter" trees is laughable! The trees posted in that thread are so far beyond what the majority of folks commenting on that thread will ever own, let alone create, it is just beyond hilarious that they would have the audacity to make some of the comments that have been made (pom-pom...are you kidding me). What no one seems to factor into the cookie cutter argument is the characteristics of the species...JBP are always going to look like JBP...
Sorry guys, basic artistic principles apply to all art forms, such as can be found in sculpture, painting, and bonsai.

Bonsai does not have a monopoly on aesthetics and comparing one art form to another can bring a better understanding. This is especially true in the case of bonsai, which does not have a long history of being an accepted art form. Comparing bonsai to other art forms, which have already set a solid foundation, gives us direction.

What would you have us use as comparison? Gardening? Topiary? Bowling? Needle Point?

But you're right in one way, we would be better off using sculpture as a comparison, as I stated in this article http://artofbonsai.org/feature_articles/livingsculpture.php
Exactly...same BASIC artistic principles that is why they are both considered art...but in the case of bonsai the principles are applied to a living, 3 dimensional object...there is absolutely a tremendous difference...enough of one that comparing to the two forms does not add validity to any argument in my opinion.

Now you are just being smart ass! There is no need that for that here.
Oh my, someone doesn't know their bonsai history.

The fact is John is that when bonsai were first being refined in China, artists often looked to paintings for inspiration and guidance. Bonsai/Penjing were often referred to as living paintings at that time and still often are in some countries

The literati style is a direct result of creating in three dimension what existed in two dimensions. The Literati tried to duplicate with real trees, the amazing trees depicted in paintings.

The Mustard Seed Garden Manual Of Painting was a great source of inspiration and information to many bonsaists in Asia.

Qingquan Zhao's book, "Penjing: Worlds of Wonderment" often compares bonsai and painting and he gives us a great history of the two art forms relying on each other.

So it would seem that painting and bonsai have been linked together and compared together for hundreds of years. Masters of the art still do so to this day, it would seem the comparisons are indeed valid in many ways.

May I suggest the following books?

"The Mustard Seed Garden Manual Of Painting"
"Penjing: Worlds of Wonderment"
'BONSAI: Its Art, Science, History, & Philosophy'

And for the record, no one compared the techniques of painting to the techniques of bonsai, what was compared in the "Awe" thread was one art forms creative creation process to another, particularly the trend toward cookie cutter production. House building, sculpture, or other things could have just as readily be used in comparison. All would have been just as valid.

John,

You just disqualified yourself from discussing this, or are you exempt from your "rules" as well? Take your rant on painting and bonsai quoted above, by your own logic, you are not qualified to have an opinion. Do you have the skills and talent to talk down the bonsai/painting comparison that such greats as Brook talks about often?

What is laughable is your attempt to censor discussion based on experience. Will you be the judge on who is qualified to discuss anything on this forum? What are your qualifications as a selection judge? Should we all pm you first to see what is allowed?

Silly, isn't it? John, if you disagree with the subject, debate it intelligently, but don't attack the participants, that is a juvenile tactic and it carries no weight.
Will...you are so good at turning things around to your benefit with your fluffy words. I am not even going to attempt to argue with you, I should have known better. You can put one more notch in your belt of people that you have driven away from posting on Bonsai forums

I bow down to you Will...you are the be all to end all when it comes to bonsai knowledge especially when it comes to artistic principles.

I crown you KING of the INTERNET Bonsai Masters...even if you won't share any pictures of trees that might back up all your rhetoric.


Thanks for setting me straight!

Bolded text is mine, posts are in chronological order.

Notice John's tone and comments? He posted his opinion and then got mad when someone offered a counter argument and then when confronted with facts, he threatened to take his ball and run home.

Sorry, if he wants to say whatever he wants to without responses, he should get a blog.





Will
 

JTGJr25

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Ok I told myself I wouldn't get involved but I can't help it. Will, haven't you noticed that very many of the threads you participate in end up like this? Do you really live to post counter arguments to every subject forcing home your point refusing to consider others? I think your main problem is that you don't leave any room for discussion, you are so content that you are right that you refuse to allow someone to disagree.

Maybe its how blunt you are in stating your facts that is so aggravating. You do know that not everything you read on the internet is true and their are many opinions to one subject and none of them are necessarily right? I honestly think you need to re-evaluate how you conduct yourself on these forums or you will continue to get reply's such as this.

Tom
 
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Ok I told myself I wouldn't get involved but I can't help it. Will, haven't you noticed that very many of the threads you participate in end up like this? Do you really live to post counter arguments to every subject forcing home your point refusing to consider others? I think your main problem is that you don't leave any room for discussion, you are so content that you are right that you refuse to allow someone to disagree.

Maybe its how blunt you are in stating your facts that is so aggravating. You do know that not everything you read on the Internet is true and their are many opinions to one subject and none of them are necessarily right? I honestly think you need to re-evaluate how you conduct yourself on these forums or you will continue to get reply's such as this.

Tom
Tom,

Can you honestly read through the thread here and say that I instigated anything? I responded politely and kindly, supporting my rebuttal to John's post with facts. Is it to much to ask that others do the same? Can not an intelligent discussion be had without resorting to insults and attacks?

I am more than happy to consider other points of view, as long as they are supported by more than just "because I said so." I am more than happy to let someone disagree, but in most cases, as with this one, they do not, when faced with a challenge that is supported, they resort to attacks.

Is there not one person out there that can debate an issue without name calling, attacks, and derogatory comments?

Imagine what knowledge we would lack now if the Greeks debated like this....

Plato: what then must a Governor consider as the highest duty of all?

Georgi: You're not a politician Plato, what do you know, your robe is wrinkled.

The fact is, that I laid out a foundation of thought to support my rebuttal, instead of then offering a solid rebuttal, John resorted to anger.

We learn by debating an issue, good things come from such debates, if they are on subject and not personal. I disagree with John, that does not mean I hate him, dislike him, or am angry at him. It just means I disagree with him.

With Chris popping in to stir the fire, continued discussion was not an option and John's refusal to support his claims did nothing at all to resolve the issue.


Please someone take the opposing side, or hell, I will, it doesn't matter, all that matters is that the issue is discussed intelligently so that both sides are presented in an easily readable format that others may use to come to their own conclusion.


It is not that difficult of a concept.




Will
 
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