Thursday, July 16, 2009

"Become a bamboo"

A Chinese artist once described to his disciples the secret of painting: “Draw a bamboo for ten years, become a bamboo, then forget all about bamboos when you are drawing. Once in a possession of an infallible technique, you place yourself at the mercy of inspiration.”

Bonsai, just like any art has two parts to it: the technique and the creative process. The thing about bonsai is that its technique is way more complex than in most other artistic media. It takes years to acquire the horticultural knowledge and experience necessary for it. Nevertheless, there are enough of bonsai enthusiasts who have the technique. There are also enough artists who are capable of creating exquisite bonsai, but they choose to work in other artistic media. Bonsai masters who possess both the technique and the artistic talent are quite rare.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

"Willows are green and flowers are red"

A well known Zen saying tells us: “Willows are green and flowers are red.” It takes each aspect of reality for what it is, and nothing more. I think this is how one should evaluate bonsai. If it is good it will be obvious. If it is not obvious, it is not that good. However, all this doesn’t apply to people who can’t resist liking ugly things.

I recently made a couple of bonsai pots that would convey the feeling of wabi (rustic beauty) and I hope I succeeded to some extent.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Ray Nesci's technique

I forgot to mention that at Peter Adams' workshop last week, Ray Nesci showed everyone an amazing technique. He forms a tree trunk out of moss and plants many small plants into it as branches. Plant roots eventually reach the soil at the base of the trunk, while the moss rots away leaving a thick and gnarly trunk formed by the roots. It's awesome!

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Bonsai by the Harbour 2009

Last month I attended this year’s ‘Bonsai by the Harbour’ workshop organized by the Bonsai Federation of Australia. The venue was splendid and most presenters demonstrated advanced techniques. My favorite was Rick Roberts who was styling an evergreen variety of trident maple. It was a tree previously grown in the field with a 15 cm-thick trunk base and 2 cm-thick lower branches. He demonstrated methods for bending thick primary branches (Picture 1) and grafting new roots to an existing nebari (Picture 2 & 3).

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Peter Adams' workshop, Sydney 2009

Today, I attended Peter Adams's workshop. He is an unusual bonsai artist and an entertaining speaker. He hasn't performed any 'miracles' with the trees during his demonstrations, but his visions of final tree designs embodied in most excellent sketches were very impressive indeed. The picture here shows a Chinese Juniper he styled, and the sketch of what he wants it to be in the future.