This Thursday will I be attending my first intensive with Boon Manakitivipart. If you have not heard about these classes or who Boon is you can visit Boon’s website at http://bonsaiboon.com/.
I will be spending three full days doing, studying, breathing, and living bonsai. How awesome is that? I’m really excited, as this is something I have wanted to do for a long time. I’ve noticed that the more I learned about bonsai, the more I want to learn. It is endless.
A little about my path in leaning bonsai, as I think there is a valuable lesson to learn in it. When I first became interested in bonsai, I joined a club, attended every meeting, ask a lot of questions. I checked out every book I could find on bonsai from the local library and spent countless hours on the internet looking for information. After three years, I could keep a tree alive, but had little or incomplete understanding of even the very basics, like repotting and wiring. I found myself at a point where I was going to either give up or find a new way to figure this out. When I looked at my trees I had no idea of what to do next.
It was around this time I attended a workshop with Marco Invernizzi. Marco is a pretty well know young bonsai master and I was really privilege to spend a day with him. But to tell you the truth, even though I learned a few things, it became apparent to me how little knowledge I had after all this time. The next day I was able to observe Marco working on a customer’s tree for six hours. I just watch and learned. This had a huge impact on me. I could see his technique over and over and realized that this is something I could do. I just needed to find a way.
During the next few months I talk to my wife Lori about this, and together we came up with a plan. I proposed starting a local study group within my club and to bring in someone to teach us. The club was excited and a program was setup. I had heard about a young bonsai artist, Peter Tea, who was looking for this type of work, so we ask him to teach the first six monthly workshops. I started what I consider my true bonsai education.
Over the next two years I learned the basics from Peter, he is a great teacher. I worked a full day on my trees with Peter every month, and started to really understand how trees are developed. I now have that foundation that I was lacking for so long. I also have a confidence that I never had. When I look at trees, I see things that I was never able to see before. It is not that I have better vision, or that I have looked at more trees, it is because I simply know what traits a quality tree should have and how to recognize these traits.
Peter left to Japan at the beginning of the year to study under a master for five years. At first I was not sure what I wanted to do next, but knew that I had to continue my learning. So here I am, on my next step. Boon is Peter’s first teacher, so I am very excited about what I will learn. Hopefully, this will be my first of many intensives. I will let you know how it goes.
So, if you are new to bonsai, or feel you just are not learning, don’t get stuck like I did. Seek out people that really know bonsai, people like Peter and Boon. Find someone that can teach. Not all bonsai artists are good teachers, so find someone you can learn from. Work on trees with this person. Leaning bonsai is much easier by doing rather than watching or reading. I think those are the main keys to becoming successful and enjoying this hobby.