Well, being the unlettered man of toil I pretend to be, I don’t have much to right to an opinion in some things but, I must say, what a gnarly old hag of an arboreal specimen I have before me. Scarred, beaten, majestic. Beautiful. This and trees like it are the kind of trees that make me poetic and wistful. They look old and storied. Maybe a tree from the dawn, a seedling at some pre history faerie wedding or Druid ritual. One can imagine the lost bones of a warrior brave hidden in the hollow trunk. Or a child sacrifice to the elder gods.
I picked it up from Cosette at the Multi-Club picnic and auction back in October 2016. I’ve been waiting until now to work on it.
Let’s get to work.
In bonsai, see, we don’t like straight lines much. That’s why we invented metal wire, actually. It wasn’t for the movement of electricity or industrial purposes. Or for jewellery or anything purty like that. No sirree, it was purely for the artistic pursuit of line and the aesthetic goal of aged, bent branching in Bonsai, that our metallurgic ancestors created copper and then, subsequently, aluminum, wire. Indeed, invented and massed produced solely to make a straight branch crooked. Think about that amazing Factoid whilst partaking of your favorite cold beverage.
As you can see from this (trees) right side shot, the structure I’m leaving is very non-traditional. Most bonsai stylists would remove that front “trunk”. I’m keeping it for two reasons. One, it’s an old branch, it adds to the eccentric nature of this tree. Second, it’ll annoy many people. Art, sometimes, should make you uncomfortable. The scars, the structure, the age of this tree should be off-putting. It should be hard to look at. The challenge is to make the structure cohesive, natural, and whole. This, ultimately, is what working on all those little trees is about. Practice. All those little trees are what artists call “a study”. It used to be that when an artist, be him a painter or sculptor or what have you, would practice on small details like a hand, or a tree, or a cow in a field. And when it was time to undertake a major work, the hand and the vision and the skill were already there to add to that work. Here’s an example on a small winged elm root cutting. I called it a “study in line”.
Back to our hackberry. Sorry.