My Maples in Montreal

Wilson

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@BackyardBonsai thanks for your response.

As i stress in my post: i'm not at all looking for subjective analysis of one particular tree. Rather, I am inviting people to share how they go about analyzing any tree in terms of primary branch structure and movement. People's choices are 'subjective' (if you want to use that term), but i'm interested in the procedures and thought processes themselves, used to reveal options and make decisions (do people draw trees, use photoshop, tape cardboard to their tree to look like branches to help with visualization, etc.)
I am glad you have this tree to start all this great brainstorming! I knew when we first met up at Yves, that you were looking to find the process to all the great maples. This arakawa is good entry level material to get your mind, and hands doing the design.
I enjoy the @BobbyLane approach, and use photos of full sized trees. This arakawa was being used to simulate the old growth white oaks I grew up around. It has the great bark, and tall majestic trunk. Here is a photo of the oaks in Southern Ontario. Screenshot_20190306-080322.jpgScreenshot_20190306-081815.jpgScreenshot_20190306-081516.jpg
 

derek7745

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Thanks so much @Wilson !

Those photos are great! I definitely have more to learn from you - i'm not drawing enough inspiration from the infinite sources of ideas right outside my door. I mean, i look at trees differently now as I walk through the streets, but I don't stop to think about it enough!

Thank you sir!
 

Wilson

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I think you have more drive to learn and advance than most, you will be building some great trees soon enough!
Bonsai is so incredible how it cultivates awareness of all the details in nature. It also creates some serious distractions when you're road trippin, staring at trees whipping by at 130km/h
 

Cosmos

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Those photos are great! I definitely have more to learn from you - i'm not drawing enough inspiration from the infinite sources of ideas right outside my door. I mean, i look at trees differently now as I walk through the streets, but I don't stop to think about it enough!
I’m not forgetting you, I’m going to show you the goods around the Canal in a few weeks!

For big mature maples silhouettes, hard to beat this park along boulevard LaSalle (the walk around the Douglas is very cool too):
 

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0soyoung

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Would anybody have any tips when it comes to studying movement/design of deciduous trees
Not exactly 'tips', just some commentary from some flounder.

I must note that I am wowed by Walter's and his protege, Marija's naturalistic creations, but it eludes me how to do it with the material I work with. Naturalism doesn't seem to be my style, beyond pointy apexes for conifers, rounded for 'deciduous' (angiosperms). Because I have a small right-brain, my approach is just to utilize long established 'rules' to figure out a plan that might make the stuff in my backyard pleasant to look at, maybe even respectable bonsai someday.

There will be (or is) a lowest branch that basically marks the top of the 'base' = branch#1. The higher it is the more the tree must be a feminine style or a literati (the old 6:1 is a convenient quantitative rule to figure out what realm this tree is in). This branch can be on either side but must come forward toward the viewer. The best nebari should be presented to the viewer (here I note that this is all there is to a cascade and maybe not even the nebari matters - certainly the golden ratio is not applicable). So, I ask myself, with these two puzzle parts, what have I got and what do I need to do?

Assume this part is good. The design also needs to have a depth element to the back and a branch opposing branch#1. It only matters that these not appear to be from the same node. The opposing branch, however, needs to be somewhat higher than branch#1. The depth element is usually a branch (sometimes just foliage seen through a gap). It will need to be thin and tapering and so will be one of the later developed aspects. It only matters, to me, that I clearly know how I'm going to produce it, eventually. The joy of pines is that I can keep fiddling with putting foliage in different places. With a maple, one must make a 5 year plan and then revise that plan annually (just like a business) because something inevitably doesn't turn out like expected/hoped.

If this is all good, I look for what the trunk above is up to and how it fits with these basics. Maybe it means a future of chopping and growing a long, sinuous, modestly tapering trunk. At any rate, eventually there must be an apex up top. This might be just above the three branches or there maybe many stacks of branches on the way. Naka had very strong rules about how the set of three must vary in position going up the trunk. I despise those strict rules as 'too much' (which is a strange irony, huh?). Even though it may be a stack of doughnuts, there needs just needs to be a variation on the theme, like music, going up until the apex, IMHO. The length of the branches, though, need to play with the thickness of the trunk where they are located - longer where thicker, shorter where thinner.

Maybe, as frequently happens in my back yard, this tree is pretty hopeless because it is a thick peg that comes vertically out of the substrate, produces one big branch, and then is just a mess! Hmmm. maybe a broom? What else might it be? I go looking for good trees that can be seen to actually have similar shortcomings and I look for how that artist appears to have solved the aesthetic problem. For others, it may be better to see what nature has done before that you never noticed. One of the 'joys' of deciduous trees is that you can cut any or even all of it off and start over. That branch doesn't have to be there. It doesn't even need to be a branch necessarily. That trunk doesn't even have to be THE trunk (I must note that this two-steps-back routine does quickly become disheartening).

One of the revelations for me is that these features need only appear to be 'this way'. It is unnecessary for it to be literal. I find that I am most taken with designs that are not actually what they appear to be at first glance. From this I have distilled a guiding principle, for me, that literally per the rules is indeed boring. The discordant bit will be a focus of attention (maybe you want it maybe you don't). A highly accomplished artist can show off by making something that appears to be compliant with all the rules, but not in the literal ways that are expected. I have no delusions of being accomplished, but I do delight in the freedom of 'faking it'.

Lastly, if you are buying high-end material, like where I think Mach5 starts, little of what I've said has any relevance other than faking perspective/depth - thinner and tapering branches in back. Heavier and relatively taperless branches in front and inbetween with branches inbetween. Then they need to also have appropriate/interesting movement too.


ah me, I can sure run on ...
 

Smoke

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Not exactly 'tips', just some commentary from some flounder.



Lastly, if you are buying high-end material, like where I think Mach5 starts..... little of what I've said has any relevance other than faking perspective/depth


ah me, I can sure run on ...

The rest of the post was filler and a sore finger. Your last paragraph is all you needed to say.....That paragraph solves everything.
 

derek7745

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@Cosmos looking forward to an adventure! That path in your picture is my bike trail! On weeknights I like to ride west along the lachine canal and then back east on boulevard lasalle!

@0soyoung Thank you!! all of it is gold! It was very very to see you think through and see the different consideration that come into mind - that's exactly what i was looking for. Thank you!

@Smoke I think that even with high end material there is a lot to consider in the design, most of which is beyond my palate at the moment. Coincidentally, the two trees that i am looking to for inspiration at the moment, especially because they are leaning trees, were built from very non-high-end material.

Brian's thread was started in 2010, and Sergio's in 2013. On display is more or less a decade of season-to-season dialogue, planning and decision-making - it's spectacular!

On these two trees, their primary branches seem to have a downward or horizontal inclination with respect to the trunks. As it happens, Sergio and Brian both also have Arakawa maples, whose primary branches have upward tendencies with respect to the trunks (like all Arakawa i have seen and liked). Here is my first topic of study - i have a tall leaning tree that is suitable horizontal/downward branches, but because it is an Arakawa maybe i'm looking at a leaning tree that needs upward-tending branches. I have always like 'the' walter pall maple (photo attached), whose branches gently grow upwards. maybe that's an interesting branch-angle for this tree? i dunno at the moment (and luckily don't need to decide today to tomorrow).

to my young eyes, there is an immediately remarkable difference between maples with downward v.s. upward tending branches. they have different 'moods', perhaps?

placement of the branches, density, etc. are all considerations i need to look at. I really like how sparse the primary branches are on Dennis' winning maple. In the last pic, what does he have 7-8 primary branches on that massive tree? Other trees have twice as many branches over half the height! These (and others) are all things I would like to look at over time, but at the moment maybe lack the mental vocabulary for fully grasping how these differences impact the image of the 'finished' tree.


yesterday i said this:
(i.e. branches on the lower left tilt slight downward, branches on the lower right tilt slightly upward)
then it came to my attention that growing branches horizontally with respect to the trunk (as opposed to them being horizontal with respect to gravity/soil line) might imply that the lean in the trunk came *after* the branches had developped. By contrast, if the branches are all horizontal to the soil line despite the lean in the trunk, this might suggest that they were developped after the tree was already leaning (thinking here in terms of the ‘story’ the finished tree tells, not in terms of timing of the actual development of the tree)
 

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Is it just me or you just have too much time and looking for something to do. Does it really matter if the branch is pointing up, down or flat? Some trunks look good with the branches pointing down then level out and up. The point is if they don't look pleasing to the eyes (your eyes) than it is bad. I am pretty certain that we all know what a bad looking tree vs. the good one. Some personal preference will be factored in when someone judging anything.
 

BobbyLane

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Ryan neil discusses these styling techniques to great length and detail in a few of the mirai streams......
i think subscribing would greatly benefit you derek and maybe answer some of your questions.

btw i dont just look at wild trees, i also study the trees of whoever's work i admire. sometimes i might pick up a piece of material and i would try to imagine what a Walter pall, or a Sandev, Maros, Arthur joura, Graham potter etc etc would do with it. so maybe i would look at a similar tree they've worked on stored in my files. sometimes i might put my own stamp on it, i always put my own stamp on it, because its my work. but i'm inspired by wild trees and naturalistic bonsai. sometimes it all works out great, sometimes i feck it up.
get more trees, work on more trees and things begin to get a bit clearer i think.
what works on one tree might not work on another. a wise man said, what works for this material, might not work for that. its not a one size fits all.
for two similar trees, try working them differently to see what works. again this comes down to having more n more trees to work on.
so for me personally, i can learn as much from the high end material, because all those trees would have started from a stump/trunk. i can take something from all of the different styles, but most of the influence will be from the natural looking trees.
 
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derek7745

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@BobbyLane Thank you!! I ended up unsubscribing from Mirai because of the lack of deciduous-related content, but now that you mention it I could probably benefit from re-watching all of those videos, and even those about conifers perhaps! Thank you! I am also planning to purchase the Bjorn videos as soon as my spring season calms down - somebody here recently mentioned that he discusses styling. Thanks for sharing your process too! i like the idea of using similar trees to compare and contrast the general feel of completely opposed stylings! I have been trying to do that with photoshop... which is not my strength o_O Thank you!
 

derek7745

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Does it really matter if the branch is pointing up, down or flat? ... I am pretty certain that we all know what a bad looking tree vs. the good one
Take a look at the attached photo. To me, that lowest left branch on this tree has an impact on the entire image or mood of the tree (picture taken from here: http://bonsai4me.com/Basics/Basics_Wiring.htm)

Both of these are options offered by the tree, and one is not 'better' than the other. This artist chose to wire it horizontally. It could have been wired with a downward, and maybe upward tendency too!

The choice is 'subjective', the options are not - the options are 'out there' for the taking. Understanding that those and other options exist at all requires category distinctions and a familiarity with styling considerations that I have not yet developed. In other words, there are options that reveal themselves to certain individuals that may not reveal themselves to others. As somebody with a background in phenomenology, that thought process is very interesting to me.

I can appreciate that this matters more to some, and less to others, which is partly why I chose to invite people to share and discuss here on my 'blog', as opposed to starting a new thread about "styling deciduous tree" or something like that.

one of the reasons why most Walter Pall trees look like Walter Pall trees is because when he looks at any tree, the tree calls for certain actions and interventions. People discuss working their trees 'in the style of Walter Pall', which is recognizing patterns in his branch placement in various contexts and scenarios, and applying those patterns as best one can in one's own contexts and scenarios. Similarly, we can talk about paintings that are 'in the style of van gogh', or sculpture being 'in the style of gian lorenzo bernini'.

but developing one's own 'patterns' --to give birth to a entire genre, so to speak, as i think Walter Pall has done-- is to operate at a whole other level, and I think that would have a very organic development. I'm simply interested in the kinds of things that people take into consideration when making styling decisions.
 

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BobbyLane

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Take a look at the attached photo. To me, that lowest left branch on this tree has an impact on the entire image or mood of the tree (picture taken from here: http://bonsai4me.com/Basics/Basics_Wiring.htm)

Both of these are options offered by the tree, and one is not 'better' than the other. This artist chose to wire it horizontally. It could have been wired with a downward, and maybe upward tendency too!

The choice is 'subjective', the options are not - the options are 'out there' for the taking. Understanding that those and other options exist at all requires category distinctions and a familiarity with styling considerations that I have not yet developed. In other words, there are options that reveal themselves to certain individuals that may not reveal themselves to others. As somebody with a background in phenomenology, that thought process is very interesting to me.

I can appreciate that this matters more to some, and less to others, which is partly why I chose to invite people to share and discuss here on my 'blog', as opposed to starting a new thread about "styling deciduous tree" or something like that.

one of the reasons why most Walter Pall trees look like Walter Pall trees is because when he looks at any tree, the tree calls for certain actions and interventions. People discuss working their trees 'in the style of Walter Pall', which is recognizing patterns in his branch placement in various contexts and scenarios, and applying those patterns as best one can in one's own contexts and scenarios. Similarly, we can talk about paintings that are 'in the style of van gogh', or sculpture being 'in the style of gian lorenzo bernini'.

but developing one's own 'patterns' --to give birth to a entire genre, so to speak, as i think Walter Pall has done-- is to operate at a whole other level, and I think that would have a very organic development. I'm simply interested in the kinds of things that people take into consideration when making styling decisions.
. I'm simply interested in the kinds of things that people take into consideration when making styling decisions.[/QUOTE]

trunk movement and branch placement will factor heavily of course. among other influences
 
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Take a look at the attached photo. To me, that lowest left branch on this tree has an impact on the entire image or mood of the tree (picture taken from here: http://bonsai4me.com/Basics/Basics_Wiring.htm)

Both of these are options offered by the tree, and one is not 'better' than the other. This artist chose to wire it horizontally. It could have been wired with a downward, and maybe upward tendency too!

The choice is 'subjective', the options are not - the options are 'out there' for the taking. Understanding that those and other options exist at all requires category distinctions and a familiarity with styling considerations that I have not yet developed. In other words, there are options that reveal themselves to certain individuals that may not reveal themselves to others. As somebody with a background in phenomenology, that thought process is very interesting to me.

I can appreciate that this matters more to some, and less to others, which is partly why I chose to invite people to share and discuss here on my 'blog', as opposed to starting a new thread about "styling deciduous tree" or something like that.

one of the reasons why most Walter Pall trees look like Walter Pall trees is because when he looks at any tree, the tree calls for certain actions and interventions. People discuss working their trees 'in the style of Walter Pall', which is recognizing patterns in his branch placement in various contexts and scenarios, and applying those patterns as best one can in one's own contexts and scenarios. Similarly, we can talk about paintings that are 'in the style of van gogh', or sculpture being 'in the style of gian lorenzo bernini'.

but developing one's own 'patterns' --to give birth to a entire genre, so to speak, as i think Walter Pall has done-- is to operate at a whole other level, and I think that would have a very organic development. I'm simply interested in the kinds of things that people take into consideration when making styling decisions.
Using the image you posted. Which one would look more natural to you? The one of the left or the one on the right? Which one convey more in term of age? I am willing to bet if the left one is coming from Walter Pall then you would think that one is looking better than the one on the right... because it looks more natural. Be honest and tell us which one is looking better?
 
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@BackyardBonsai i think we have very different interests and aspirations when it comes to bonsai, which is perfectly fine of course :)

good luck on your bonsai adventure :)
Agreed. Am sure you will have many good maples in the future if you don't get side step in life. Looking forward to the future as I am only about 10 years older than you.
 

BobbyLane

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Take a look at the attached photo. To me, that lowest left branch on this tree has an impact on the entire image or mood of the tree (picture taken from here: http://bonsai4me.com/Basics/Basics_Wiring.htm)

Both of these are options offered by the tree, and one is not 'better' than the other. This artist chose to wire it horizontally. It could have been wired with a downward, and maybe upward tendency too!

The choice is 'subjective', the options are not - the options are 'out there' for the taking. Understanding that those and other options exist at all requires category distinctions and a familiarity with styling considerations that I have not yet developed. In other words, there are options that reveal themselves to certain individuals that may not reveal themselves to others. As somebody with a background in phenomenology, that thought process is very interesting to me.

I can appreciate that this matters more to some, and less to others, which is partly why I chose to invite people to share and discuss here on my 'blog', as opposed to starting a new thread about "styling deciduous tree" or something like that.

one of the reasons why most Walter Pall trees look like Walter Pall trees is because when he looks at any tree, the tree calls for certain actions and interventions. People discuss working their trees 'in the style of Walter Pall', which is recognizing patterns in his branch placement in various contexts and scenarios, and applying those patterns as best one can in one's own contexts and scenarios. Similarly, we can talk about paintings that are 'in the style of van gogh', or sculpture being 'in the style of gian lorenzo bernini'.

but developing one's own 'patterns' --to give birth to a entire genre, so to speak, as i think Walter Pall has done-- is to operate at a whole other level, and I think that would have a very organic development. I'm simply interested in the kinds of things that people take into consideration when making styling decisions.
the low branches on trees are often seen as 'feature' branches, they often set the tone for the entire image.
on one of the mirai streams Ryan talks about how he usually sets that branch first then everything else falls into place, i only began taking this more seriously after watching that stream, although he speaks about this technique to styling in a LOT of his streams.
so yeh for that hornbeam the left branch certainly makes an impact on the image, not sure i would have left it there, but thats all part of the process, moving it up or down and seeing how it best fits. you never can be certain straight away, the artist may go in again tommorrow and tweak said branch again??

here im working on two maples, both will be naturalistic broom styles but both are somewhat different, the low branches could be upright for one or downward sweeping for the other.
one might have subtle movement going right, so this could be shown in the branching to enhance it, as in first left branch moves up and right and the right branches go right and sweep down, again ryan talks about these nuances in great depth.
both could easily be style to just have everything going up n out.
again its not a one size fits all.
 

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BobbyLane

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"the strategies have to adapt to the material youre working on" thats the quote i was looking for...

the hornbeam in this video has upward turned low branches, you really get a natural feel here, i do

ive learnt a lot from Arthur joura's videos on youtube among many others who's style i admire. he has a bit of content if one puts in the research, styling various trees in this natural form. you also get a feel of how big styling decisions are made here.
 

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baron

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I'm not very familiar yet with styling as I would like to be, but in short this is what I got from my teacher.
-> Downward branches make the tree look older, upward make it younger
-> usually with a thinner trunk the branches should be more upright (as the thinner trunk already hints at the younger age)
-> even tho the first side branches may be horizontal or downward, the other branches can be going upward. The closer to the apex, the more upward they go.

Also Danny refers to his styling more like Walter Pall does. A natural style.
Of course being the bonsai masters that they are, they can also style a tree in the japanese or pine style. They just prefer not to I think.
As Danny puts it; the Japanese have their way of styling trees, we don't have to try and copy that style because they will never be as good anyway.
 

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