..As you know Bonsai is the art of creating natural trees forms in miniature. We are inspired by the natural world to create living sculpture that will have an impact on the viewer. The more dramatic and powerful the image, the greater the emotional response on the part of the viewer. The more weathered and gnarled the bonsai, the better the story is. This is why bonsai is often called 'The Living Art-The silent poem'. Creating bonsai comes down to what kind of an image do I want to portray, and what will be the effect on viewer. Do I desire the impression of a distressed tree, high above the tree line on a mountain top? Or do I want to show a tree in the open field, full of leaf and vigor?
Much of bonsai design depends on the type plant material that we are working with and the limits to which that material can be manipulated. For instance, junipers and spruce can be bent a great deal, while azalea and elms are more brittle. Pines and junipers can tolerate a lot of deadwood while most deciduous trees cannot. All these horticultural tendencies most be taken into account when designing bonsai.
Bonsai, as developed in Japan more than 1,000 years ago, is the mecca from which we draw inspiration and technique for creating modern bonsai. The value of studying Japanese rules and techniques in bonsai design cannot be underestimated. These design and aesthetic principles exist for very good reasons and have been developed over hundreds of years of trial and error. The simple reason why we use unglazed pots with conifers and glazed containers with deciduous trees is that it works. Only after many years of bonsai study as practiced by the masters, would one be able to bend the rules or begin to create a signature style. In the last 20 years we have seen some departure from the stylized Japanese tree. For instance, the naturalistic school of bonsai as practiced by Walter Pall is one example, or the weird and wild creations of Nick Lenz.
Bonsai has become a truly international art form and the progress of European artists has been really astounding, in Italy in particular. While America has been held back somewhat by draconian import restrictions, it is very heartening to see the progress that Ryan Neil has made with collected material at Bonsai Mirai in Oregon. However you approach your bonsai adventures, we wish you the best of luck and happy hunting.
Full Moon Bonsai