Friday, October 1, 2010

Critique by Robert Steven

Recently, BonsaiBark blog offered critiques by Robert Steven. The blog editor would receive pictures of your tree and forward them to Mr. Steven. Robert Steven is a world renowned and published bonsai artist.

After little thought, I decided to send a picture of my Ficus salicifolia "89" to BonsaiBark to be critiqued. This is the picture I sent.

This picture was taken soon after I pruned away the summer growth which I had allowed to grow wild. So what we see is the weak, messy foliage which was shaded by the wild growth above. Also, this trimming exposed much of the upper front of the tree which was previously hidden by foliage. In this view, the pot appears too large and the finish is marred by hard water deposits. The stick in front of the trunk is for moisture monitoring and should have been removed,etc.. Obviously, I should have thought this out better. Lesson learned.

The next picture is the virtual that Mr. Steven sent to BonsaiBark to be posted along with his critique.

The most obvious change is the pot. It is smaller and looks nicer to me. I don't like the color, tho. Moving up, the soil color was changed. I agree with Mr. Steven that the soil color now looks more natural. We don't see many trees in nature growing in red lava. He also added a little moss to the soil surface. This is a nice touch.
Looking at the nebari, notice that it is more powerful on the left side. And there is less space between the edge of the pot and the surface roots. Generally speaking, a tree in nature grows more strongly toward the side with stronger rootage. With this in mind, Mr. Steven shortened the right side of the canopy. I like this change because it makes the tree look more natural and less symmetrical. This leaves the size of the leaves. Mr. Steven thought the leaves were too big. The fact of the matter is that in 1989, there was a sudden freeze in Florida. At the nursery owned by Jim Smith, the famous tropical bonsai grower, his Ficus salicifolia froze that night. All foliage and small branches were lost. However, the tree survived. When the new leaves matured, they were strangely larger than before. Somehow the tree had changed. Jim named it Ficus "1989". Anyway, I did not qualify this tree as a "1989". This may or may not have changed Mr. Steven's assessment of my tree's leaf size as being too large.

So, what do you think???

1 comment:

  1. Tom,

    I'm sorry it took so long to get back to you. I like the changes that R. Stevens made. Hell, I like your tree anyway.

    I also think it is easy to photoshop corrections...nothing dies, nothing gets broken, etc. My only critique of your tree is that the nebari seems a bit "bulky". Ficus oftn get that pregnant look at the bottom of the trunk. If you increased the height just a bit (say 1/4), you may lessen that look of squatness.

    As I said, I really love your tree so this critique is really minor but that's what I think.