Where Does the Accent Go?

This was Janet’s display last club meeting. It is a three-point display: two trees and an accent (or scroll, figurine, or viewing stone). The main tree was just on the edge of medium (Chuhin) and large (Ogata). But is the accent plant placed correctly in the picture below?

Shore pine 1

Boon felt that the accent plant above was not placed correctly. Usually in a chuhin display the accent accents the smaller bonsai. He felt that this accent was too small to have a visual impact with the main bonsai. He also said that if the small plant accented the smaller bonsai, the total mass of the small bonsai and the accent would make themselves more present in the total display. Take a look below. What do you think?

Shore pine 2

8 responses to “Where Does the Accent Go?

  1. The more I look at the pictures, I move towards the accent being with the small tree. At first it looks a little odd, but it really does keep the overall display balanced. I do noticed though that in the Kokufu books, the accent always seem to be right in the middle of the medium and small tree. What do you guys think?

  2. Pingback: Learning the art of bonsai display « Bonsai Tonight

  3. Tom C. Knoblauch

    Peter’s observation’s in the Kokufu books might be to generalized. Tending towards the center, leaning closer to the smaller tree. An exception can be found in Book #82 pg68 where on a cascade stand a knarled Black Pine in a round dish holds its lush green foliage above a small accent below, like a drop from a cliff. The second tree faces it like a splash.

  4. Thanks Tom,

    I saw the picture that you sent to Boon. Yes, I was generalizing. They do move them closer to one or the other tree, but there are some where they have it right in the middle. I kind of wondered why they did that.

  5. The Kokufu books are great for studying pot selections and (usually) stands. But they do the same as B.I.B. does when it comes to photography – they “push” the individual displays together. The chuhin displays in the book are not how they look at the show.

    We do the same thing in our book. I (Morten) am actually an advocate of not shooting displays for the book. I feel they don’t add value since we also “scrunch” them up to get rid of the empty space in the photos.

    I was almost sure that Koku Fu pushed the displays together for photagraphy, but was not 100% sure. But this morning I could walk out, into the backyard and ask Akio Kondo – a Koku Fu winner.

    So, good eye Peter and Tom.
    And, Akio gave me the hard and fast rule on where the accent plant goes: It always goes next to the small tree, except when it doesn’t. If you are not sure, study more. (These masters can be so helpful.) 🙂

  6. LOL, I like that hard and fast rule. It seems that there are strict rules in bonsai, but then, there is a higher level of understanding that allows us to break the rules. Hard to explain, but I think I get it. I’ll keep study though!

    I’m excited to meet Akio!

  7. Hi all… As Jonas mentions in one of his recent posts (see bonsaitonight.com), this tree was one of those “is it large or is it medium” trees. The result of the display practice showed that in a 6 foot space it definitely requires a 3-point display. So it needs a 2nd tree, or stone, or scroll with it.

    I’m thinking to see if Mas has a suiseki that I could use instead of a 2nd tree. I am imagining s so-called “shore stone” or “island stone” – these are mountain-shaped stones (yamagata) that evoke rocky cliffs or islands etc to the viewer. (The tree is a “shore pine”, which grows along the Pacific coast of CA and Oregon. It’s the same species as the lodgepole pine.)

    Any thoughts on that?

    Meanwhile, the photos above show very clearly that the rule on accent placement does hold fast in this case!

  8. It’s not me telling you to study more. I was Akio telling me (uncermoniously) to study more. Maybe we both should study more.