Colin Lewis Bonsai Art

Colin Lewis Bonsai Art

N   L E W I S    B o n s a i   A r t

F O O D   F O
R   T H O U G H T

Bonsai and

After they begin routinely supplying you with
seniors’ low cost at Dunkin Donuts with out
asking for ID, you already know you’ve got reached the age
when you possibly can, with impunity, start monologues
with phrases corresponding to: “Again within the previous

Effectively…  Again within the previous days, after I first
began bonsai, there was just one e book
obtainable within the UK – pitiful in its lack of
helpful data and embarrassingly unhealthy even
in these early days. Many of the books again
then, even the dumbed-down interpretations of
previous Japanese nursery manuals have been fairly stiff,
primary and crammed principally with data that
any half-experienced gardener already had. However
that first e book did include one easy black and
white {photograph} (within the plate part –
bear in mind these?) that actually moved me. It confirmed
a gentleman at a Royal Horticultural Society
present gazing intensely at a small broom type
zelkova that was fairly darn good.  What
appeared to me to be an nearly excellent miniature
picture of a younger tree and the look of immense
satisfaction on the face of its proprietor instructed me I
was not alone. 

got here



of books by Peter
Adams. First was “Profitable Bonsai
Rising” which gave extra sensible and
particularly purposeful data with an precise
purpose in thoughts. Issues have been now starting to make
sense. Then the daybreak broke together with his “The Artwork of
Bonsai” (I nonetheless suggest it as important
studying for all my college students). It was the primary
and continues to be nearly the one e book to cope with
the aesthetics of bonsai imagery in western
aesthetic phrases. An epiphany! So this was how
you would simplify and distill a picture of a
tree, and endow it with all the facility and
emotion that the real article would convey.
This was about making every tree an unique work
of artwork.  This was good.

This was very
good.  And never a touch of direct Japanese
affect – his photos have been a westerner’s
distillation of tree kinds with explanations of
why every design was chosen. They have been timber
designed and sculpted in keeping with western
aesthetics and planted in containers. In different
phrases, they have been timber in pots, not bonsai in a
pots. A lot kudos and respect.

Peter taught us what he knew, and what he did not
know, we came upon on our personal.  All of us
did.  We realized extra from expertise and
remark and one another than from books. As
far as design goes, visible references from Japan
have been uncommon so we roamed across the hills and
woods enthusing over gnarled previous hole oaks or
hundred foot tall scots pines with a tiny cap of
tangled branches. Wizzened previous hawthorns in
hedgerows, big beech in parks or 
thousand year-old yews in historical
churchyards.  We might get collectively at
each alternative and analyze one another’s
timber, give and obtain recommendation, argue,
cajole….  We have been completely unfettered by
any preconception of what qualifies pretty much as good or
unhealthy, we simply did our greatest to make very cool
trying timber in pots. And we made some very
cool timber certainly. I used to be just lately trying
via a set of slides (quaint
pictures, to anybody below thirty!) of a
nationwide exhibition in England 1 / 4 of a
century in the past. Maybe, the extent of
‘sophistication’ was not what could be as we speak, however
the care and high quality of workmanship was each
bit pretty much as good. Extra considerably,  I swear
the number of form, idea, type, emotion
was typically far higher than you’d see
as we speak.

Too A lot





is unambiguous. The 2 syllables imply tree and
pot, whichever manner round you need to learn them
the which means is identical – tree, pot – pot,
tree.  Sadly, someplace alongside the
line the “tree” bit grew to become much less vital, and
the time period “bonsai” took by itself unbiased
definition of type. There emerged a “bonsai
form” which, even when the pot was eradicated
from the image, would nonetheless be recognizable as
a bonsai. Even individuals who scarcely know what a
bonsai is will acknowledge it as such.
I assume this was inevitable in mild of the
speedy improve in reputation of bonsai within the
west which, in flip, gave rise to a mushrooming
demand for inexpensive industrial bonsai-like
crops. This was accompanied by a progress in
demand for itinerant professionals to conduct
demonstrations, workshops and personal
We’ve got to just accept that the prime concern of
industrial or skilled practitioners in any
sector is to earn a residing, and which means
maximizing income and minimizing funding of
each time and cash. Half time fans have been
content material with cookie-cutter imports, and neither
pupil nor shopper needs spend years progressively
growing a design when they’re paying for
assist! They’re much extra prone to forgo a
distinctive, spectacular, dynamic tree-like picture for
the sake of a suitable however formulaic picture,
formally permitted and rubber stamped as a bona
fide bonsai type. One which could be achieved by
discount and contortion in only a few hours.

It is fully comprehensible how the majority of the
bonsai group was – and largely nonetheless is –
completely content material with that method: it is a
win-win state of affairs for industrial producers,
professionals and clients alike.





a horrible mistake to be lulled into the false
perception that this fashion is the one manner, and even
one of the best ways, for it’s neither.
Not Sufficient

And thus it occurred. Now there’s a factor
known as a bonsai and any similarity between its
type and a tree, ought to one exist in any respect, is
purely coincidental. It seems the intention now’s
to take any piece of uncooked materials and,
whatever the inventive potentialities it
provides, whatever the species, manipulate it
into yet one more uniform, squat, domed triangle,
to make it conform to the usual, predictable,
predetermined, un-tree-like bonsai form. This
is ingenuity not artwork. It coerces folks into
believing that there’s just one visible purpose and
any try to make use of their very own creativeness will
result in having their knuckles rapped by the
bonsai group at giant. It’s as unhealthy, if not
worse when it comes to the event of bonsai as
an artwork, as blindly following the previous defunct
traditional kinds and the clockwork ‘left department,
proper department’ rule-driven method.

have been different victims of the ‘homogenization’
of bonsai. One is the assorted kinds that should
be grown over time, and can’t be molded into
form in a season or two: uncovered root,
root-over-rock, raft, even mature forests. You
see only a few new masterpiece examples in main
exhibits these days. These take an excessive amount of time
to supply efficiently, they want idea,
planning, and long-term growth, and are
thus much less inviting to the skilled or
industrial practitioners.

Such kinds can solely be produced for pure
pleasure by those that are passionate sufficient
in regards to the anticipated outcome to speculate the time
and dedication required. As such kinds change into
much less frequent within the public area both or each
of two issues might occur: Fewer folks educate
or try such kinds till they change into
nearly extinct, and/or the rising rarity
elevates the worth of high quality timber produced
by those that had the imaginative and prescient and dedication to
start the method a few years in the past. in twenty
years time, as we speak can be a few years in the past.

One other sufferer is deciduous bonsai usually –
you possibly can’t make one in an indication or a
workshop or a day’s go to to a shopper’s backyard.
You possibly can’t bend, prune and crank a collected
plant into form and wait a 12 months for it to fill
in. It’s important to return to sq. one and construct
the tree slowly, 12 months after 12 months after 12 months. You
have to have a blueprint, a method, that
guides you thru the lengthy and infrequently
irritating course of towards the distant purpose.
Once more, not return on funding – until,
after all, the immense satisfaction and
persevering with pleasure you achieve from each the
course of and the outcome could be thought of
enough return.

You possibly can’t survive on pleasure and satisfaction
(tried it as soon as, lasted a couple of week, had
time although!) so the method is seldom taught or
practiced professionally.  However the
devoted novice can do that for the pleasure
of the journey alone, regardless of how lengthy. Even
if you’re not the one to complete the journey,
you’d be remembered because the one who regarded
past the horizon and set the course.

On the very highest ranges of bonsai, in each
the east and the west, creativeness and
creativity are nonetheless very a lot alive, however down
right here the place most of us reside it appears it’s being
pushed out by this cancerous preconception of
what a bonsai ought to appear to be. There appear to be
no youthful rising Nick

Lenzes or Vaughn

Bantings to pioneer bonsai photos of
native species or to additional westernize the
observe and aesthetics of the artwork.

It isn’t the bonsai grasp, not the itinerant
bonsai journeyman, and definitely not the
industrial market merchants, however the dedicated,
motivated and gifted fans who maintain the
future evolution of bonsai artwork of their fingers.
It’s they who’re free to experiment, create,
push the boundaries, be adventurous. They’ve
no popularity to construct, no ego to spice up, no massive
funding to lose aside from time. It’s they,
and solely they, who can protect the number of
type and species, including extra as time goes by.
It’s they who’re most probably to observe
bonsai as an expressive artwork, endlessly pushing the
boundaries, relatively than as an funding or a
efficiency. All they should do is imagine in
their very own desires, set their sights on the
highest purpose and, take the longest path to succeed in

It has been repeated so many instances over the previous
few many years, nevertheless it’s a lesson that appears to be
taking its time to sink in, so I am going to go away you
with this most poignant quote from the late John

Yoshio Naka who selected to attract his
inspiration from the timber he noticed in nature
as an alternative of from textbooks or the work of others:

“Do not strive
to make your tree appear to be a
bonsai, make your bonsai look
like a tree.”

Author: admin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *