Author Topic: juicy debate part II,  (Read 7574 times)

Chrisl

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Re: juicy debate part II,
« Reply #30 on: April 03, 2012, 11:10 AM »
So true! LOL!!!  That was funny John!
 

Adair M

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Re: juicy debate part II,
« Reply #31 on: April 03, 2012, 11:40 AM »
Oh, gosh, this thread has brought back memories...

Back in the day, I was an enthusiastic newbie, and took classes, bought books, magazines, workshops,etc.  The "guru" back then was John Naka, who would come to town every year (maybe ever other year) for a workshop.  We used to search all year for appropriate material to bring to that workshop!

But, yes, there were factions within the Club, the Atlanta Bonsai Society.  Some followed "this" local guru, some "that" guy.  I was Vice-President one year, and I gave a couple of demonstrations myself.  And yes, I now remember I was heckled some, too.  (I had forgotten all that...)

I am considering re-joining, but only so as to have access to the workshops and demos when they bring in the young bucks who have been spending their youth at the Japanese bonsai apprentice programs.
 

Larry Gockley

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Re: juicy debate part II,
« Reply #32 on: April 03, 2012, 12:19 PM »
Great conversation guys. It reminds me of that Nazi impersonator on the old Laugh In TV show who. The only thing he ever said was " Veeeeeery interesting". I know I'm showing my age.
  I do have a few cents to add however. It seems that club politics are their major downfall. People leave or clubs break up because of peoples difference of opinion. The club usually has an alfa male, or female, who likes a certain look in his trees, and those who agree style their trees the same way, and the others end up leaving the club. I have been to many  different club meetings where all the trees looked very similar. It seems that nobody teaches the basics anymore. Anyone who is serious about bonsai needs to read David De Groots book, " Basic Bonsai Design". I believe it should be mandatory reading. I have been to clubs and touched on subjects such as proportion and balance, only to realize this person has no idea what I'm talking about. If everyone learned the basics, club politics would not play as big a part, because everyone would be on the same page.Davids dedication page is to " my teacher and friend", Vaughn Banting. I still enjoy watching his teaching videos, but I never hear anyone even mention his name. There is a lot to be learned from the basics.   That said, I would never tell someone their tree sucks. I saw a Ryan Neil critique recently where he mentioned we should look for the good in a tree, and try to determine the story the artist is trying to tell. He said, if all you can see is bad in the tree, you need to look for another hobby. I don't like when people say this tree is ugly and it will never be a good tree. It makes me think, don't blame the tree man, you're the artist, do something.  That brings up another point I was thinking about. If you had, say a hundred trees, and every one of them won an international award, what exactly would that get you? Would you get more satisfaction than someone who loved his trees, and got satisfaction just looking at them, every one being a stick in a pot? I honestly believe that being too critical of others trees is not the way to spread the art/craft of bonsai. Just my two cents. Larry
 

Elliott

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Re: juicy debate part II,
« Reply #33 on: April 03, 2012, 12:41 PM »
Matsu. Oh my god! U hit it so hard on the nail, I thought I was reading My own post I put up when I was high or something and forgot I posted it!!
 I'm in So Cal- the land of do it like it 1978 or ur an idiot. ( I refer u back to Nathan's recent thread about John Naka). We are also waiting patient for some of those to retire to diapers so the modern world can step in( not all are like that, there is a few older members who are on the ball and open to always learning, but not many).
 Jim Barrett is an example of someone who has been in it since the sixties, has been teaching since the seventies, and is still putting out valid info and beautiful trees in a modern style.
 Lately through my teacher who did an apprenticeship in Japan with Mr. Sakurai, I have met many people who have awesome material and I have not even heard of them before, because they are not involved with clubs. They stick to themselves and avoid all the BS.
 It seems the best club to be in is the no club, club!
Matsu, u don't have the power to change these guys. Once you realise that, it gets easier not to be frustrated by them and it only makes you look bad when you try to go against them ( i got accused of being rude early on on this very thread for laughing at someone like that). Remember, u can lead a horse to water........

 

John Kirby

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Re: juicy debate part II,
« Reply #34 on: April 03, 2012, 12:55 PM »
Elliott,
Smile man, things are getting better. I love the attempts at World Domination by certain facets of the community. Let's put it this way, Not too many Years ago, John Naka was the big draw at Bonsai conventions, then we had the army of demonstraters from So Cal that traveled about (and some still do!), then came Warren Hill, Chase Rosade, Joe Harris, Kathy Shaner, Kenji Miyata a few others, then Marco Invernizzi, Walter Pall, Marc Noelanders, Mike Hagedorn, The Englishman Translator Guy(?), Ryan Neal and soon Matt Reel, Peter Tea, etc., etc, etc. All talented, bright and often spectacular people.

The beauty is, there is a lot of talent in the country and visiting the country. They all have great strengths (let's not forget Bill Valvanis who has been working on Bonsai Education for decades). My suggestion is pick a teacher, a study group, a club and sick with it, until you feel you aren't learning anything anymore, then move on. I have been fortunate to study and work with one person and club for the past 7 years, I am still learning, generally that there is a whole lot of stuff that I don't know or can't do, yet. Keeps it fun, and helps justify the plane tickets to get there.

John
 

Elliott

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Re: juicy debate part II,
« Reply #35 on: April 03, 2012, 01:05 PM »
Larry
 U have some valid points and ur right, it is a very interesting thread. That's why I have been starting these and I'm glad its worked.
 However the question was when should a TEACHER tell a student that that tree will never be great. I'm not talking about going around and pointing out all the bad points on everything you see to whoever will listen to you. Most trees have good and bad and in a critique its best to start with the good parts, but if the person that you pay $ to for their opinion is not honest, than ur getting a bum deal. It is up to the instructor to relay honest info in a responsible and considerate way.
 I have many trees that my teacher has said get rid of it. I'm still gonna keep some cause I like the tree, or It used to belong to a friend who died or whatever, but I still expect my teacher to be brutal with me because he can be that way to ME. Somebody else he may have to be a little softer. This thread is about teacher and student relationship, not appointing urself king of bonsai judging and pronouncing yea or nea on everybodies trees.
 Hey John, this is for u... :D
 

Brian Brandley

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Re: juicy debate part II,
« Reply #36 on: April 03, 2012, 01:32 PM »
I haven't contributed here very often.  Most of you don't know me, or whether I know a stick from a masterpiece, but that's OK.

In discussing the teacher - student relationship I would like to emphasize how important precise and non-judgemental communication can be.  Many people will tell you that they want bluntness, or to "call a spade a spade".  But honest communication doesn't have to use vague terms.  To call a tree "bad" or "worthless", or "not worth your time" may be true, but it suffers from a lack of precision.  I don't mind blunt criticism, but I need to know why the tree is bad, worthless, or whatever.  It is much more useful in my mind to skip the perjorative terms, and focus on objective critique - "the tree has no taper", "internodes are too long", "this trunk does not impart the appearance of age because...."

Often those receiving the critique (particularly beginners) stop listening after they hear "bad", "worthless" or whatever.  Those terms generate an emotional response, but worse, they are meaningless without the objective details that follow.  So why bother with the emotionally laden terms at all....just get to the heart of it.

Brian

 

Larry Gockley

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Re: juicy debate part II,
« Reply #37 on: April 03, 2012, 03:38 PM »
Elliott, you are exactly right. I ques I was talking about a slightly different circumstance. If I were paying a teacher to guide me, I would expect him / her to be honest about my tree.A teacher should ,perhaps ask the tree owner his long range plans for the tree, and if that is not practical, the student should be told.
   I do understand the original question of the thread, and yes, on occasion I did get an idea that the instructor was holding something back. I just could never put my finger on it, not being sure if he was witholding info on purpose, or maybe wasn't very good at getting his point across. As I said, some are better at teaching.
 

nathanbs

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Re: juicy debate part II,
« Reply #38 on: April 03, 2012, 03:45 PM »
Great thread! Not much that i can add to the teacher/student aspect as I think you have all covered it fairly well, however I think it is very important irregardless of our age that we don't give up on clubs nor do we set out to start a new one(unless that is the only option).  These clubs are often the core of the hobby here in the US and it is important that there is all around useful, helpful, exciting, cutting edge and even basic information being disseminated at these meetings.  The majority of us are complaining that there is an old way about these clubs and they are unwilling to change. Imagine if there was only a diehard, cutting edge no holds barred your tree will never amount to anything attitude at these clubs. This may work for you or I that strive to be the best we can be in not just the hobby, but the Art of bonsai, but I can guarantee that it will not work for Mr. or Mrs. Smith that is not interested in change.  Perhaps I just stumbled upon something, the "hobby" of bonsai versus the "art" of bonsai?  The hobbyist versus the artist?  Maybe that's the black and white divide?  Maybe we need clubs devoted to the hobby and others devoted to the art?  Although this does bring me to a major pet peeve I have, and that is that there are approximately 10 clubs within a 1 hour drive from me. I think this is excessive. They all struggle ,more or less financially, with attendance, and with coming up with good demonstrations that you didn't just see down the road 2 days ago.  I guess time will sort all of these things out. My advice is that if there is more than one club in your area, figure out which one is most likely to change and bend to more modern techniques and ideas and slowly take it over with you and others that share the same agenda. The other club in the area can be where they serve jello and work on sticks ;)
 

Judy

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Re: juicy debate part II,
« Reply #39 on: April 03, 2012, 04:19 PM »
Brian I agree with you. The whole idea behind teaching is to impart wisdom, and if the teacher is any good, they will tell you the meaning behind the terms.  By just saying a tree is bad with no more input than that is not teaching at all.  How would anyone learn from that method.  I can't imagine why anyone would be a student of that kind of teacher. 
 

Larry Gockley

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Re: juicy debate part II,
« Reply #40 on: April 03, 2012, 04:27 PM »
And since the topic is " a juicy debate", I would like to add a few more irons to the fire, questions if you will. What exactly is modern bonsai, and if you don't like how things are done, can you change them and just call it modern bonsai? Also, what about the little old men fisherman figurines? I could be wrong, but are not figurines still used in Chinese bonsai, and haven't they been doing bonsai about 1,500 years before the Japanese? Why is one way right and one wrong? And one more question, I can see that a craft would have right and wrong paths to take, but isn't art, more or less by definition, interpreted by the artist? Case in point - hip-hop music. Larry
 

nathanbs

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Re: juicy debate part II,
« Reply #41 on: April 03, 2012, 05:25 PM »
I would say modern bonsai is bonsai that is modern ;) , no really, it would be bonsai that is being produced by today's artists.  Artist like Kimura, Suzuki, Harrington, Neil, Noelanders, Boon, Matson, Shaner, Bjorn, Owen, Peter Tea, John Wang, Potter, many more, apologies to those that were left off.  And no, implementing change does not necessarily equal modern. The changes would have to be in the direction of what is currently being done. I think there is a slight misunderstanding I am not referring to the word modern as a style but as reference to present time.  Since the era when Naka was considered modern there have been many many changes to bonsai that an artist and hobbyist alike should pay attention to, these changes have to do not only design techniques and methodologies but overall hoticulture as well.  Translation, all design aspects aside there is better information today about taking care of your trees than there was yesterday.
Referencing penjing or pensai(Chinese bonsai) is a valid discussion for another thread. What are we striving for? Bonsai? Penjing? European style bonsai, American style bonsai? In general as an art form you are absolutely correct it is to the interpretation of the artist. I greatly respect all forms of bonsai, mainly modern Japanese bonsai and some modern penjing(without the mudmen), therefore I yearn to study them and learn all that i can about them so that I can implement or borrow techniques used by them to create what I consider to be beautiful trees. By the way what is wrong with hip-hop music? :)
 

Jerry Norbury

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Re: juicy debate part II,
« Reply #42 on: April 09, 2012, 05:32 PM »
...snip...
In discussing the teacher - student relationship I would like to emphasize how important precise and non-judgemental communication can be.  Many people will tell you that they want bluntness, or to "call a spade a spade".  But honest communication doesn't have to use vague terms.  To call a tree "bad" or "worthless", or "not worth your time" may be true, but it suffers from a lack of precision.  I don't mind blunt criticism, but I need to know why the tree is bad, worthless, or whatever.  It is much more useful in my mind to skip the perjorative terms, and focus on objective critique - "the tree has no taper", "internodes are too long", "this trunk does not impart the appearance of age because...."

Often those receiving the critique (particularly beginners) stop listening after they hear "bad", "worthless" or whatever.  Those terms generate an emotional response, but worse, they are meaningless without the objective details that follow.  So why bother with the emotionally laden terms at all....just get to the heart of it.

Brian
I agree - I believe this is the way to do it.

Teach the skills to enable the student to reach their own conclusions.

On a UK forum, frequented by many inexperienced hobbyists, I became so tired of trying to correct or even find ANY form of design in so much worthless material that I wrote a set of "objective" selection criteria. These are a set of rules which must apply to the material you buy. It was the usual stuff about needing visible roots, low branches, many branches, trunk taper, trunk girth etc. One subjective attribute is an "interesting trunk", and I recognise that it's tricky one, but the rest were all measurable things.

Needless to say a number of these beginners then went off and measured their trees against my criteria. Guess what? Lo and behold , it turns out they have sticks in pots after all! No one was told they had bad trees; no one was told their trees were wrong; an objective assessment gives you the result.

Now this doesn't work for all styles, but for most beginners, it is sufficiently objective that they can work it out. I go into more detail on each attribute when required.

Positive attributes
Visible (surface) roots
Interesting trunk (this is subjective)
Trunk taper
Trunk girth
Adundant branches - on all sides
Foliage starting near the trunk
Branches start low - close to the roots
Branches are ramified
Abundant foliage (i.e. healthy)

Negative attributes
Awkward or unbalanced roots
Long straight section(s) of trunk or main branches
Particularly thin trunks
Sparse branches or odd placement of branches
2 dimensional structure
Odd trunk or main branch bends
Visible chop or cut scars
Odd trunk/branch taper
 

akeppler

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Re: juicy debate part II,
« Reply #43 on: April 14, 2012, 12:07 AM »

A modicum of intelligence and an artistic eye dont always go hand in hand.



This is true.  I read about it daily on the myriad of forums I peruse......since 1997.  Kirby gets it....He is one of the few that knew me in the good ole days.
 

John Kirby

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Re: juicy debate part II,
« Reply #44 on: April 14, 2012, 09:41 PM »
Smile Al, we can only have so much fun.