Working on the Dust Mann’s ficus retusa

This Saturday I had the privilege of working on a huge tiger-bark ficus at my new client’s (Dustin) house.  

 

No, it didn’t fall out of the pot, we took it out to make it easier to work on. Sorry about the washed out look of some of the pics, I had to play with them so you could even see them at all. Here’s the original of the above pic: 

 If you didn’t know, I use an iPhone for all of my pics (this one is the 5s, I’m waiting on the 6s to upgrade) and the photo editing app I use is called Snapseed. With it I can take this pic: 

 And turn it into this: 

 Or this 

 And turn it into this: 

 Pretty neat, right? Like it says on my Instagram page, it’s all iPhone digital trickery. I think of it like this: my eye sees the 2nd image but the camera records the first image. I just have to correct the camera’s image to show my view with post production digital effects. 

Anyway, I have a tree to work on, I’m slacking.  

 This tree (a ficus microcarpa “retusa” or “tiger bark”) has a secondary trunk growing off the right side (as all good banyans should, really)   The idea is to emphasize it and treat it almost as a semi-cascade or slanting trunk. Here are the side, back, and side views.       

First step, defoliate.     I also selected branches (the basics: anything growing up/down, in the inside of curves, etc..). Now for a big cut, see up here? It’s a little too heavy for being the top of the tree (the thinking is that the top branches are younger than the bottom branches and should, therefore, be smaller. It’s part of the concept of taper). 

So, like, CHOP, man….  That’s a little tree on its own. 

That’s better:  Now for a little wire….. 

 While I’m wiring I’ll let you wander around and take a look at some of his trees.  

     And Dustin is the..uh…owner of a dairy, so he didn’t really steal all those milk crates. No, ummmm, really. 

He has some impressive trees. Many of them were grown while he was living in Michigan, believe it or not. He’s good friends with Jerry Meislik, ficus afficianado extraordinaire. Dustin moved down to Florida (in the middle of nowhere I might add, his address does not exist in the digital world yet) a few years ago. 

The trees prefer it, I’m sure. Anyway, two hours later….  That’s Dustin getting out of the frame. 

Here’s a little better pic:  

What I mean about treating that first branch as a separate tree is like this.   I left that vertical element to build the “tree”… We put the tree back into the pot because we figured it might, well, you know, find it easier to stay alive that way.   

It looks better that way too. This is art, really. It should look good. When I get back up to Dustin’s again (soon, I hope, I would like to get my hands on some more of his trees) I’ll post an update for you. 

  

  

About adamaskwhy

Visual artist specializing in bonsai, mostly.
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5 Responses to Working on the Dust Mann’s ficus retusa

  1. Dustin Mann says:

    Thanks so much….next time we have to crank up some tunes..everything Mariln Manson,Guns/Roses..Jet, Black Betty stuff

  2. nickalpin says:

    The bottom part of the right branch looks heavy. Beautiful tree, though.

    Re: post processing, many people don’t realize that film labs used to correct negatives when printing, so nearly every film photo was post-processed. Most exposures were poor, but no LCD screen on the device meant that people thought they were capable photographers. Ansel Adams would be using the shit out of something like Snapseed on an iOS device if he were around.

  3. Pingback: The Bsf/Epcot Flower and Garden Festival bonsai trees: 2016 | Adam's Art and Bonsai Blog

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