Bonsai tree: Robert Steven Critiques a Ficus

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Bonsai tree: Robert Steven Critiques a Ficus

Tom Kruegl-Simulation

Robert’s digital simulation of a Ficus nerifolia that was submitted by Tom Kreugl.


Tom’s original. The small stick marks the front Tom has chosen.

Robert’s critique

In spite of the tree itself, this is a photo that I do not like (sorry!). There’s a problem with appreciation of the art of bonsai because the photo cuts off part of the pot.

The very basic concept of bonsai art as quoted in Chinese “yi shu er pen san ji jia” . Yi = one, shu = tree, er = two, pen = pot, san = three, ji jia = pedestal, these are the three elements considered as a must in bonsai art (tree, pot and stand). For our purposes at least, the first two elements (tree & pot) should be an inseparable unity. Otherwise, it is simply not a bonsai.

Now to the tree:

- The overall design lacks a natural look. It also lacks a convincing connection between the root formation and the slant of the tree. In other words, the design does not follow the rules of plant physiology. As you may know, a tree’s movement always follows the direction of the roots. A one-sided root formation will never form a symmetrical, formal tree shape; the tree will always grow and flow to the side where the roots are growing.

- You don’t always need to expose everything in the front view. When we try to show everything, we show nothing. Due to the over-exposed branches and the messy foliage, the tree does not look well refined. The leaves are also too big. This gives the tree a young look.

- The pot is too big and the soil surface is not natural looking.

- Re-design the composition to create the flow to the left (see the simulation above).

- Refine the foliage just enough to show the tree’s major branches (ramification) and the lower part of the trunk. Trim the the foliage around the tree’s edges so the leaves will look smaller.

- Use a smaller oval pot and place the tree slightly off-center.

There is more than one way to design any bonsai and my critiques and recommended solutions might not always fit your taste because of personal preferences. But I always try to give my opinion based on artistic and horticultural principles.

Source: Bonsai Bark


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