Giving Up That Branch You Love–
Why would you want to give up what you’re excited about? This doesn’t sound right, does it…
Sometimes, of course, a cool branch is everything good about a tree, and then we have to feature it. But it’s easy to become stubbornly adamant about a branch, or other tree element like really nice shari, that ends up negatively impacting the overall design if we’re over-focussed on it and all the other features from that view are terrible.
When I was studying ceramics in graduate school a visiting professor became very influential to me and changed how I approached clay, and even now, trees. This was painter and sculptor Jean-Pierre Larocque, who earlier this year had a major show in his home city of Montreal.
When we experience preciousness, we usually protect it at all costs. Sometimes to the detriment of the work. Jean-Pierre’s working method skirts and diminishes ‘precious’ elements. There’s a movie below about his work and how he makes it, and he talks about this idea. The timestamp about this I’d suggest is 12.00.
Jean-Pierre explains that his pieces evolve through a process of covering up and negating parts that were previously there. Especially he speaks of those parts that become precious to him, and then of discovering that they are not the solution but actually the problem.
His non-attachment style of working is rather profound, for it is in the service of the gestalt of the work, avoiding the trap of falling in love with a single part that weakens the whole. Gestalt over star elements. Ensemble rather than soloist.
For years I’ve shared this lesson in teaching integrated bonsai design. We should be alert in design decisions for really special tree features, for sure. Only also be sure that you don’t lose the big picture in featuring them.
And, beyond the parallel I’m making here with bonsai design choices, it’s just really cool to watch Jean-Pierre ‘play’ with scrap pieces of clay to compose a sculpture, or using an eraser to draw, all of which starts from the beginning of the movie. There’s a unique score composed just for this film, too. Enjoy-