Robert Steven’s digital simulation of a tree that was submitted by Josua.
The eye of a master
Sometimes Robert Steven’s simulations are strikingly radical and completely unexpected. In this case, what Robert has presented isn’t so radical. You might even say, his improvements are fairly obvious. Still, obvious or not, Robert’s expert eye and touch always seem to elevate the trees from ordinary to sublime.
The tree on the left was submitted by Anthony. The one on the right was submitted by Josua. Both are ficus.
I put these two bonsai together for my critique and as they are both Ficus. My simulation is for Josua’s tree, but I believe Anthony will also learn from it.
Anthony’s tree is still immature; the ramification (branching) needs to be developed. No matter how old or well developed the trunk appears, if the ramification is not ideal, it will never look like a mature tree in nature. From the initial form, I can also tell the “textbook mind set” with the 1-2-3 branching rule and apical crown which does not portray the character of ficus (or a deciduous tree) which should be wide spread. The aerial roots are also messy.
For Josua’s tree, the basic features of the trunk and aerial roots are nice, they show the character of an old ficus, but the crown is too small, too round and too neat. This creates an artificial look. The pot is also too deep which distracts the tree from the overall composition.
In order to portray a large old ficus in nature, the crown should be much wider: with uneven foliage edges. This will give the tree more natural look. The ramification still looks rather messy and too dense, it should be further refined and simplified. This especially applies to the twigs. If you do this, your bonsai will look neat and clean with sufficient spaces which also good for the lights to get through. A shallow pot will improve the tree’s presentation as you can see in the simulation.
There is more than one way to design any bonsai and my critiques and recommended solutions might not always fit your taste and personal preferences, but I always try to give my opinion based on artistic and horticultural principles.
To understand my concepts better, please read my books Vision of My Soul and Mission of Transformation which are available at Stone Lantern.
Source: Bonsai Bark