Author Topic: judging bonsai for bwaynef  (Read 14538 times)

bwaynef

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Re: judging bonsai for bwaynef
« Reply #15 on: October 15, 2009, 12:59 PM »
OK, I'll bite. Here are two bonsai that we can try to judge. I will do this in detail later. Now look at them and make up your mind.

I'm looking forward to details.
 

Walter_Pall

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Re: judging bonsai for bwaynef
« Reply #16 on: October 16, 2009, 11:22 AM »
OK, here we are. We had very warm and dry weather for about four weeks. In my sort of climate this is so rare that one has to spend every minute with the trees then. afterwards there were several bonsai events I had to travel to, prepare and report afterwards. Now it is cold and a bit snowing and I have time. I did not forget you, as you see.

Here I throw several versions of judging for these two trees at you. All versions are reasonable. All versions are honorable opinions. Choose your favorite.

Azalea #1

What a wonderful flowering tree. it is so pleasant to see the small flowers on this azalea which are so evenly spread all over the crown. This requires great horticultural skill. The impression is rather natural, more so than with many azaleas that we see. The typical bonsai look with horizontal branches and rather large negative space was avoided here. The nebari is very good, but this is not unusual for this species. The small flowers and small foliage are a good choice for this size of trees. Large flowers as we often see them a re way too aggressive and out of proportion usually. Altogether a very fine specimen of azalea.

Azalea #2

This looks good at first sight but has many flaws: while the nebari is fine the tree is way too high compared to the thickness of trunk. The nice flowers somewhat hide the fact that the trunk behind them is bent in the usual zig-zag way which is really a gross misunderstanding of bonsai styling. The green mass and flowers are too large. There must be more negative space between the branches. The crown could be more triangular at the top. A rather poor example of azaleas.

Azalea #3

In general azaleas as they are styled and shown are kitsch. They all try to look desperately like a bonsai, that is like an ideal pine tree. And then the pine tree has lots of gaudy flowers. This is an appearance which is not good for azaleas at all although more or less 100 % of them are styled like that. It is really a transvestite. Well, if you like it, fine. So coming back to this specific tree we can see some of that. But the good thing is that it is in mild form. The ideal pine is not so much visible anymore. the ideal bonsai shape somehow looks more natural than usually. this will be loved by the general public, it will be graded highly by most judges. It is commercial though and thus it is questionable whether we have something that can be called art.
As far as azaleas are considered bonsai at all this is not so bad, but still too commercial to be considered a good bonsai.

Cherry #1

My entry at the 2008 Bonsai Olympics photograph contest. Result 5.33 points which was at the last third of 10 entries. I had chosen the cherry because I saw it as an outstanding flowering bonsai which I have worked on for 20 years and finally it has come to a showable stage.
The judges did not think so
Dan Barton - "Good nebari • bottom left branch too stiff • poor distribution of flowers • nice moss surface dressing "
Nick Lenz - "Nice pot, nice tree base, interesting main trunk motion and detail, and then comes the awkwardness of the branching."
Michael Persiano - "This tree reflect little work, in my opinion. The mid section of the tree lacks branch structure, and the lower branches need refinement."
summary: a mediocre bonsai


Cherry #2

This is not really a bonsai yet. It may not even have much potential as is. The awkward branches can hardly be tamed to look good eventually. The best advice is to cut back ruthlessly and start from scratch. The good nebari and a correct crown eventually will make sure that this is a good bonsai. This will take many years though. It has to be kept well to develop enough flowers which are evenly spread throughout the crown.
Not a showable bonsai but potentially good material.


Cherry #3

This is a remarkable flowering tree in the naturalistic style. The artist has created this from scratch in about twenty years. With great skill he has reached a stage at which the hand of man is totally invisible. It looks like all this was done by nature. The flowers are very small and the way they are located it looks very natural. the fact that they are few compared to other fruiting trees that we have seen is very pleasing as it is clearly an artistic effort to avoid the regular mainstream bonsai. A crown full of flowers would be aggressive beauty. This would have been kitsch. Kitsch was absolutely avoided here. Less is more. The small branches seem a bit too long for regular bonsai taste. First of all they are very natural. But horticulturally this is absolutely necessary as this kind of tree only flowers at the very end of last year's shoots. They will be cut back in summer.
Overall an outstanding flowering tree at a level rarely seen.






 

Rick Moquin

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Re: judging bonsai for bwaynef
« Reply #17 on: October 16, 2009, 03:43 PM »
 ??? what am I missing. I see 4 pictures for 2 trees. Where are we getting 6 trees from?
 

JRob

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Re: judging bonsai for bwaynef
« Reply #18 on: October 16, 2009, 03:52 PM »
I assumed that they were comments from 3 judges.

JRob
 

bonsaikc

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Re: judging bonsai for bwaynef
« Reply #19 on: October 16, 2009, 04:41 PM »
OK, here we are. We had very warm and dry weather for about four weeks. In my sort of climate this is so rare that one has to spend every minute with the trees then. afterwards there were several bonsai events I had to travel to, prepare and report afterwards. Now it is cold and a bit snowing and I have time. I did not forget you, as you see.

Here I throw several versions of judging for these two trees at you. All versions are reasonable. All versions are honorable opinions. Choose your favorite.


I found it just a bit confusing, too, until I realized Walter was discussing two trees from three different viewpoints each.

Chris
 

Rick Moquin

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Re: judging bonsai for bwaynef
« Reply #20 on: October 16, 2009, 11:27 PM »
 ??? May In be so bold to suggest that we stat from the beginning!
 

Walter_Pall

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Re: judging bonsai for bwaynef
« Reply #21 on: October 17, 2009, 01:34 AM »
Well, as you can see it is not all that easy. Bonsai can be seen from many angels. One and the same tree can be considered trash by one serious judge and world class by another one. and both are right. There is no right and wrong. it all depends on where you come from, where you stand in this game, what you expect, what you have experienced. it all depends whether one has an open mind or not. Most don't.
Who can tell what is right  and what is wrong? Well nobody really, but some are more in a position than others.
Bottom line: it all depends WHO is the judge. The tree will stay the same.
Only history will tell what is good or not. Or will it ever?

 

Walter_Pall

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Re: judging bonsai for bwaynef
« Reply #22 on: October 17, 2009, 01:41 AM »
OK, back to the beginning:

'Which is the better bonsai? What is good, what is bad? Are they comparable at all? Give them points from 1 to 10 and explain why. Tear them to pieces if you like, they are both my trees.

1) Azalea indica, 55 cm
2) Prunus cerasifera, European wild cherry, 60 cm

According to my own opinion the cherry is universes better than the azalea. It is even questionable whether the azalea is a piece of art. The cherry is one of my best creations.
 

Rick Moquin

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Re: judging bonsai for bwaynef
« Reply #23 on: October 17, 2009, 09:39 AM »
??? what am I missing. I see 4 pictures for 2 trees. Where are we getting 6 trees from?

I finally got it. Walter pasted previous comments the trees received in the past. I originally thought Walter was commenting.

Here is a tree where I admire the talent of the bonsaist in achieving the ramification and precise needle length on this pine. This took a long time to achieve and cannot be achieved by just anyone. That being said would I own such tree and the answer is no.

As we all know beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

There are two sides to bonsai: an artistic one; and a natural one. Some folks say can't we have both? and I say yes. Where do we delineate from both? That is not important. Some might call a tree artistically created whilst others may not. Some trees on the other hand can be strictly classified as art. Because art is once again subjective, it is not an easy concept to express. We know this subject was debated ad nauseum in the past, and no need to rehash it here.

The pine is technically sound, I can marvel over it for hours on the technical aspect alone. Does the tree move me? No. Well how can a tree not move me if I can spend hours marveling over the technical aspect of the tree? Well, one needs to give credit where credit is due. So we do. The talent required to produce this pine is out of this world so to speak, but does the tree look natural? To me it doesn't. Why is that? As I have stated many times in the past, the tree either moves me or it doesn't. Does this factor remove any of the talent from its creator? No, not in the least, again IMO. Can I explain why it doesn't move me, most of the time yes, other times, it takes a while to put my finger on it. In this particular case, it looks like little pompoms were attached to branches.

Analyzing the tree  a step further, if this was a deciduous tree the pompoms when viewed from a distance represent tiny little foliage clouds, indicating great ramification etc... In either case the tree does not look natural, albeit the deceitfulness of great age is readily apparent.

Creating a tree where man's intervention is not easily seen is extremely difficult to pull off, once again IMO. We all know that man is behind these creations etc... but how much imprinting was left behind, is a totally different subject.

Walter and a few others have commented that a tree must have soul, without it, well the tree becomes flat for the lack of a better word. In the case of this pine does the tree have soul, once again IMO yes. So if the tree has soul, why doesn't it move me. Because in all its beauty, it looks artificial. At times too much of a good thing can be overwhelming or overdone. At the same time I would like to see this tree in person, perhaps it would convey a different message, perhaps the flatness of a photograph leads us to inadequate conclusions. This tree may well look natural in person...

Nonetheless, regardless of how we view things or perceive things, those perceptions can never take away the talent of their creators.

Getting back to the original discussion. Yes the flowers on this particular Azalea are small as well as the leaves a technical challenge indeed. Wrt Cherry, Walter is proud of this tree and has every right to be, I just don't see where and others as well. Some of the reviews the tree received have angered Walter, and that is also understandable as some were quite harsh, it's his baby so to speak.

In closing you can't please all of the people all of the time but, have accomplished much if you can please some of the people most of the time.
 

greerhw

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Re: judging bonsai for bwaynef
« Reply #24 on: October 17, 2009, 10:19 AM »
Many more years for that gap to fill in, if ever.

keep it green,
Harry
 

Rick Moquin

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Re: judging bonsai for bwaynef
« Reply #25 on: October 17, 2009, 11:24 AM »
Many more years for that gap to fill in, if ever.

keep it green,
Harry

I don't think there ever was an intent into filling that gap, considering the rest of the tree. If so, it would have been accomplished by now one would think.
 

greerhw

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Re: judging bonsai for bwaynef
« Reply #26 on: October 17, 2009, 11:29 AM »
Somebody wasted a lot of time then, IMHO. Right or wrong, I'm big into balance and symmetry, this tree has neither.

keep it green,
Harry
« Last Edit: October 17, 2009, 11:35 AM by greerhw »
 

Walter_Pall

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Re: judging bonsai for bwaynef
« Reply #27 on: October 18, 2009, 06:46 AM »
In the context of all sorts of misunderstandings about the naturalistic bonsai style I have recently opened  a new blog with articles that I wrote for all kinds of media. This one might be of special interest:

http://walterpallbonsaiarticles.blogspot.com/2009/10/naturalistic-pine.html
 

bwaynef

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Re: judging bonsai for bwaynef
« Reply #28 on: October 18, 2009, 08:00 AM »
OK, back to the beginning:
...

Since we've gone back to the beginning once, the crux of the quote that started this thread "for" me (which didn't address the issue I tried to bring up at all)
Quote
On that note, what criteria would YOU use to judge a Naturalistic-styled tree?  What rubrics could be used to quantify excellence in this style?  What should have the most emphasis in terms of grading?  What is the biggest difference in terms of emphasis?  I'm no expert so all that I have are questions."


 

Walter_Pall

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Re: judging bonsai for bwaynef
« Reply #29 on: October 18, 2009, 09:34 AM »
'On that note, what criteria would YOU use to judge a Naturalistic-styled tree?  What rubrics could be used to quantify excellence in this style?  What should have the most emphasis in terms of grading?  What is the biggest difference in terms of emphasis?  I'm no expert so all that I have are questions.'

I wonder how often I have to repeat this.

criteria: it must look like it was all done by nature, it must not look like a bonsai at all but like a tree. And then it must impress you. It can impress you by it's beauty, by it's ugliness, by It's unusualness or by all of that. The more it impresses yo the more art it is for you. This means it must have soul, the more the better

That's it, that's all. Where is the problem?
« Last Edit: October 18, 2009, 09:41 AM by Walter_Pall »