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BONSAI GARAGE

Yamadori
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Whats wrong with this display?

Whats right about this display?

Do you like the scroll? Why or why not?
 

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Bill S

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I'll give it a shot, but by no means do I claim to be an expert in this area.

First thought is I'm not crazy about this pot/tree combo.

I'm thinking that the scroll is a bit too tranquill for the tree type/image.

Nothing screams out at me that it isn't good though, but again see above . Nice to see the tree set up as a display though. A for effort.
 

BONSAI GARAGE

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Thanks for the opinions guys. It was my first attempt at a formal. I received some good critiques at the show too. Like the branch in the scroll shouldn’t go the same direction as the tree. The stamp and lettering should be smaller and on the right hand side. I actually made the scroll myself. First time using water color. Next one I make will be smaller and I'm only going to use black.
 

mcpesq817

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Thanks for sharing your display. I'm still trying to get a hang of doing bonsai itself, so I haven't had a chance to pay attention to what goes into a formal display. But, it's very enlightening to hear what critiques you received.

Very nice scroll by the way - it might not go with the theme of the display, but I liked it. I wish I had a touch of artistic ability :)
 

cray13

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Some thoughts...

Disclaimer... I'm a beginner so take my opinion as just that... the opinion of a beginner.

First, I really like the tree... you've done a great job with the branching.

For the display. I think its excellent that you've created your own scroll... I couldn't begin to consider trying something that artistic myself.

As for the composition.
I think the stand is too big... it diminishes the tree. The scroll looks like the branch of a deciduous tree in the fall or winter when the display tree is a conifer... this seems confusing to me and the green color in the scroll also seems to contradict the season being implied (fall/winter?). The scroll is also perfectly centered in the display, I think normally it should be offset slightly... you've introduced too much symmetry into the display... looking for the triangle formed between your scroll, accent and tree to have sides of unequal length.

I think the accent and its mat are also too big. The accent piece seems to diminish the impression of the main tree as much if not more than the stand.

I think the display could be improved by removing the accent plant's mat and pushing the accent plant deeper into the display. This will diminish its visual impact and put more emphasis on the main tree. If you could find a smaller stand I think that would help as well.

Overall I think the display is nice.

Here is a quick virtual... I've reduced the size of the stand, removed the mat, and moved the scroll slightly to the left...
 

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Mike Page

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The scroll and tree resemble each other too closely. As a general rule, you don't display a tree scroll with a tree. Too repetitous. The scroll should be more directionally neutral, but any direction in the scroll should be toward the tree. Also, the scroll should be centered in the display and the tree should be "touching" it. The accent plant is too large and too busy. The card in the center of the display is a 4th element than detracts from the image. I think cards should be attached to the edge of the table hanging down so as not to be part of the picture.

I hope I haven't been too hard on you. These are some things I learned the hard way,and if someone asks, I feel I should give them an honest opinion.

Keep working with display. It can carry our art to the ultimate height.

Check out this book. "Bonsai Kusamono Suiseki" by Willi Benz. You can find it online.

Mike
 

Klytus

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It doesnt work on so many levels it's difficult to know where to begin.

Your tree is playing second fiddle to your plant.

The tree is unsettling.

The scroll,what good can be said about it?

The Alcove is wrong and the stand is vulgar in this arrangement.
 

Smoke

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I recently read this on a new article at AoB about art by Michelle Dougherty;

Art should not be created in a vacuum nor displayed in a closet. The artist’s obligation is to stifle personal doubts and their fear of criticism and allow the work to be seen.

While I won't be so criticle about all the things that could be improved, I will say congratulations and thanks for posting you idea of how bonsai could be displayed. Yes there are things wrong but overall if you did it perfect you would be bored the rest of the summer not having anything to improve upon.

On the plus side, the tree as it is is fairly nice and well worth displaying. It has a pretty good trunk line and the taper is good. I find nothing wrong with the tree on it's own. In the display though I feel it is on the wrong side of the scroll. This tree has tremendous movement to the left. While the long primary branch gives some indication that its line could be drawn into the middle of the display, the movement of the trunk must be taken into consideration.

While the accent plant is OK on it's own, it is a little wild for the display. The long branches hanging over the pot in a sunburst pattern draw to much attention to itself.

Many things have been said about the scroll. The scroll itself is just wrong for this display. Eventhough you are proud of your work and I would be too, sometimes it is better to do without something and leave room for interpretation rather than stick something wrong into ones face. The colors are a little garrish for bonsai display and I think all black sumi-e ink will be better.

I have prepared a quick virtual of something a little better. A couple planks under the tree would be good or a thin slice of burl. Stand is too much for the literati feeling tree.

I am looking forward to your next attempt. Keep at it and donkey bop.
 

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redvw5

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I think whats wonderful about this is that you took the time to put it together and to show it all to us. Thank you for sharing. I can't say much about the display rules because I have never put one together myself. Its a area I would like to know more about.
 

treebeard55

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A thought on esthetic perspective

BG, I had an experience in '92 that taught me something about the Japanese perspective on the role of the viewer's imagination. You may find it of interest.

The headliner at ABS '92 in Hershey, PA, was Susumu Sudo. Besides his bonsai talks and demos, he gave one presentation on suiseki. (All thru an interpreter.)

He took an irregular green stone, about the size of a small cantalope, and set it in a tray of sand. Then he asked us what we saw.

Many thought it looked like a mountain; others an island. (I frankly thought it looked like a frog. Other Americans laughed, but Sudo-san did not.)

Then he took a small model boat, about as long as a woman's finger, and set it on the sand near the stone. What he said next caught me by surprise. An American would have said something like, "Now I've given you more to go on." But Sudo said something else.

"Now I have restricted your imaginations."
 

TheSteve

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Klytus why is that you have so many rude replies but apparently no trees?
 

pdbacos

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I wanted to take a little time to respond to Al's comments in particular:

Bravo!

In my experience, it is important to always begin one's critique with a positive statement. It goes a long way in establishing your goodwill and in securing the willingness of an student or a fellow artist to listen to and accept your assessment. I'm not saying that you should "blow smoke up anyone's ass" but most people receive criticism much better if it is couched within even the smallest compliment.

With respect to Bonsai Garage's display, I think Al's assessment of the tree is accurate. It is a good tree that is well worth displaying.

I like that Al took the time to offer detailed comments about each element of the composition. And when I say "detailed" I'm not talking about minutiae like "the scroll should be moved 3 centimeters to the left". (I think when one is working with a display where the observer can change his or her perspective those minutiae become less of an issue; the general placement of the elements is more important.)

What I especially liked about Al's comments is that he adopted the tone of a supportive teacher speaking to a student. Granted, we do not all possess the experience, knowledge or wisdom to do so, but it behooves us to try and understand our own relationship to another artist. (Are you a teacher speaking to a student, an amateur to fellow amateur, or a dilletante speaking to an artist?)

In my own field, it's useless to hold students, amateurs and professionals to the same standards. While I might be supportive of a student's work, that same effort on the part of a professional would likely be met with general derision. I suspect it's the same with many other arts.

Finally, I really appreciate Al's use of humor. It really helps to lighten the mood, especially when we start to take ourselves too seriously. The reference to "Donkey bop" had me stumped until I looked it up online.

Cheers,

P
 

BONSAI GARAGE

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I gotta say I'm enjoying all these responses. Very eye opening. I should mention when I was planning this display I originally had the tree sitting on the round rubber place mat ($1). When I got to the show they had this wooden stand waiting for me. So it was kind of a last minute thing to put the tree on it. I should have tried the tree in place the way I imagined it. I need to get some better pics of this tree on here for you. It's in a pot from a California potter whose name I cant remember. I'm sure AL knows him. Anyway stay tuned for my next attempt at a scroll.
On a side note I pulled Jim Doyle aside to get his thoughts on this display. I didn't tell him that I made the scroll. I wanted his unbiased critique. First thing he said about the scroll was that it was too bright for his taste. He said it was nice and then asked me if I made it. LOL He liked the round mat under the accent and the way I had the plant reaching towards the edges of it. Looking back I should have used a smaller plant.
 

Smoke

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P

Thanks for taking the time to look up the important legacy of one of the greats...Milt Minter. I grew up in Sanger close to the Minter family. While Milt was older than me, I did race motorcycles, flat track, with the nephew's of Milt. The whole family tree was into racing.

On the back of his Porche's were the words "Donky Bop" as if to let all those behind him to "not give up". There is also a long story that goes with how that phrase was developed all the way back to France.

Milt Minters mechanic and a man full of stories about the racing great lives next door to me and actually takes care of my trees while I am gone for more than three days. Garry Solly was quite well known as a "go to " mechanic on Porches and the factory developed many tricks that Gary thought of later in production models after being tested at the track.

Gary in his drive way next door after a tune up of friends car.

For all you budding Bonsai display persons out there...."Donkey Bop"
 

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Smoke

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It's in a pot from a California potter whose name I cant remember. I'm sure AL knows him.

Looks like a Dick Ryerson pot.

Mr. Garage, mind telling me where your from, I don't understand in your profile if you are from the USA?
 
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