Bunjin Journal
the next chapter of the journey

2009 - Present

Evolution. Thank Goodness!


Thank You ~ Dear Friends, for helping to spread the news...

(and for Liking and Sharing on Facebook )

...and Thank You, Matt Reel, ~ looking forward to our Collaboration at Windsong!

2 14 2014

"Transformation is the only thing which we can really rely on. I actually believe in transformation. Changes are unavoidable; the more we trust changes, the better we feel. If an individual is afraid of changes, it is only about a feeling, it doesn't have a real background. There is no reason to be afraid at all. One has to collar the fear."

"In this imaginary arena one can play with all possible ideas, in order to find out what really obstructs us in such a way. The only way to fasten all these suppression moments and handicaps is simply to continue what would be possible, because then all obstacles inevitably become apparent. If I speak of the reality of the androgynous I mean if we accepted that male like female beings experienced suppression from the beginning, that girls such as boys are squeezed in behavior patterns then we would encounter the fact that there is a time ' before' it and that we must understand this period as a time of innocence, liberty and infinite possibilities. Even if it was only a short time we all carry  this memory in us, a real memory, which is situated before the time of knowledge of what is male and what is female, the time of humanity."

~ Tilda Swinton

National Bonsai Exhibition 2012

My last post was one hundred forty nine days ago. I was out of the blogging business that long. I guess I just needed something interesting enough to talk about to spur me back to it. I just returned from one of the most enjoyable weekends I have had in ages! The National show hosted by Bill Valavanis in Rochester was AWESOME! Here are some pics:

 Getting there really is half the fun. Photo taken on the plane...

...and a few stops along the way, the first photo was taken at Croton Gorge Park in Westchester County, and the second needs no explanation ;o). (Mets fans please do not send hate mail.)

Thanks to a dear friend for the Legends Suite hook up, we had an amazing time, even though Tampa Bay spanked the Yankees.

The entrance to the show.

One of three azaleas in full bloom during the show, placed by the entrance on Saturday.

Here I am with my exhibit and the impresario himself, Bill Valavanis. My hat is off to him, and his 'army' of helpers that came together to create a truly magnificent event. 

These three guys where integral to that success. They drove my trees, along with many others entirely across the country and back in an enormous white refrigerated truck. Visit Peter's blog for a play by play. From left to right, Zac Shimon, Peter Warren, and Ryan Neil.

At the Awards Dinner on Saturday night Ryan announced an exciting new development for Bonsai in the U.S. He and Michael Hagedorn, are hosting the Artisans Cup of Portland in October 2013. All the details are on the website: http://www.artisanscupofportland.com/  By having this show at the Portland Art Museum and with careful attention to detail and expert eyes of these very talented professionals behind it, the level of bonsai artistry in this country will be officially and unequivocally catapulted to fine art status. I have no doubt this will be history in the making, and I am already thinking about which trees I might be able to submit for the selection process.

From left to right: Jim Doyle, me, Jim Gremel
I was sooo happy to see so many friends there. I had a chance to make some new ones as well. It was such a pleasure to finally meet Wayne Schoech of Bonsai Bark  (his blog just keeps getting better!) and Stone Lantern.

The second biggest highlight of this weekend was watching Marc Noelanders, of Belgium, transform this juniper in JUST 3 HOURS! on Saturday...

And the first biggest highlight was when Mr. Noelanders himself gave me a critique of my exhibit. It was a serious big moment for me. As soon as that tree comes off the truck I'm improving it with the suggestions he made. It was a spectacular learning opportunity.

Because Mike is Judging 'Best in Show' at the Westminster Kennel Club next February, I may be able to tie in a trip to the Noelanders Trophy if the dates work out.

I picked up some great Ikebana tips from renowned artist Jerome Cushman.

We had such a blast and can't wait for the next National Show!

Thanks for visiting. :o)

Naked Trees - Winter Silhouettes

Just back from the L.A. Arboretum... another amazing show hosted by Baikoen (Bonsai Kenkyokai, est. 1964).

Kay Komai (on the left) has been there for the whole journey. The history of this club is fabulous - for another post. Dave Woodall is on the right.

My two favorite exhibits were created by Cheryl Manning (left) and Elliot Farkas (right).

Cheryl's Ume.

Flowers opening on the Ume.

Elliot's Twisted Pomegranate.

Accent shown with the Pomegranate.

...given the title of this post, if you didn't expect to see trees with no clothes, er, I mean leaves on, what did you think trees wear to sleep in, yesterday's leaves perhaps? not when brand new fresh leaves are right around the corner.

still with me?

Just Kidding! I didn't forget about you all, even through it has been soooooo LONG.

It's New Year's Eve and I have big plans for 2012 starting to fall into place: The Shohin convention in Santa Nella is a month away, then there is the California Bonsai Society's 55th Convention in Anaheim in April, then June will be the biggest frenzy heading to the 3rd U.S. National Bonsai Exhibition in Rochester, NY, then rounding back to the BCI 50th Anniversary Event in Denver, Bonsai in the Rockies, (almost a homecoming since I grew up in Denver and Colorado Springs,) then September in Portland, then GSBF, and I'm already getting excited for the 2013, April 19th BCI Convention in Yangzhou, China (我学习汉语很多!)。

I have not been idle the last year, even though I've neglected to post. Photos of my bonsai trees will be added to this site regularly next year, since I've been working so diligently on them I really want to share them. I also finally learned how to shoot and edit quickly decent videos with my little Sony HD camera, so expanding my Youtube Channel will be a fun activity for next year. Bjorvala bonsai studio has set the bar very high in quality bonsai offerings the last few months.

I've been playing mad scientist in my lab, I mean studio, and reorganizing things to be more productive in making many pots in larger quantities and sizes. I'm still making a few occasional pinch pots, but not very often. I'm switching to slab-building and other methods to meet the goals mentioned above of larger output. I have a dedicated e-commerce site in the works, but more on that later ;o).

I recently had a lot of fun conducting a well attended workshop on all things pinch pot for the Bonsai & Beyond Club that meets at the San Diego Botanical Gardens once a month:

And my little ball of fur known as Kibou is all grown up, at least in dog years:

Wishing you a Safe and Happy New Year's Eve....

it's been awhile...

I know it's been eons since I posted anything on this blog... I'm redesigning my mental workspace, doing some internal remodeling, and generally gearing up to head in a new direction. Artistic journeys, take just as much planning as physical trips, and without the help of Expedia. I've also been very distracted the last 3 months while learning Mandarin Chinese, and with my latest fury project:

Xie Xie pengyoumen, Zaijian. ;o)

Happy January

Help is abundant this year around every corner:

My heart goes out to everyone shoveling snow this month, here are a few sunny accents to remind you Spring is on its way...

Best Wishes for 2011

Click on the New Year Greeting below to see the video on YouTube:

Wishing You
Peace & Happiness
in 2011

I hope this posting finds everyone well, safe, and hopeful for the new year of possibilities just around the corner.

* * * * * * * * * *
Here is an excerpt from the Prologue of the book I have been working on for the past year, BONSAI TEN, which will be available in the Summer of 2011:

"Bonsai is a direct and personal study of life. It appeals to our fascination with what is immeasurably small and inconceivable large. Through the art of bonsai, a connection is made between artist and tree, an individual and eternal nature, the infinite mind and the persistent voice of our interconnected souls. Bonsai is a small but powerful illustration and visual embodiment of many things including ecosystems, natural processes, energy exchange and work, dedication, applied knowledge, perseverance, humility, kindness, selflessness, compassion, and appreciation. Bonsai contributes to the goal of sustainable peace.

"Learning to decipher and listen to these instructions, messages, and insights through the art and practice of bonsai has been a deeply spiritual experience for me and I want to share it with you. Bonsai gave me an education. When I entered this strange and mysterious artistic phenomena I was unaware of all the rules, the history, the tradition, the undercurrents, the methods, the science, the philosophy… it became a life-seeking quest for answers. It is a fascinating journey and the purpose of this book is to ‘bring back to the tribe’ (The Writer’s Journey) some of the answers that I have found that seem to me to resound with truth.

"Ten years ago I was living in a second floor, north facing condominium near the ocean. The unit had a small balcony. After visiting a botanical garden I fell in love with a grove of ancient Gingko Trees and wondered how I could capture that moment of calm and euphoria that I felt surrounded by those majestic trees, without access to land or a garden with sufficient space to plant my own. The local nursery had a small gingko seedling with maybe 7 or 8 leaves on it planted in a bonsai pot that I immediately brought home and tried to grow… that’s how innocently it all starts. You, my dear reader, have been warned.

"Bonsai changed my life. I made every possible mistake. I read every available book. I talked to every possible ‘expert’. I suggested to my husband that I could be more successful if we just had a real yard, and if I went to Japan to study bonsai I might figure out all the little things that seemed to elude me (both of which he agreed to). In the years that followed I stumbled into a natural process of learning and subsequently learned a way to live my life through answers I would not have come to know otherwise. For example, time cannot be made to speed up so the tree will grow faster. Patience. Time passes quickly enough. Time cannot be made to slow down so the tree will die slower. Acceptance. Making a long term commitment and then sticking with it was a sound lesson for me to learn. Bonsai is a microcosmic textbook to the universe, and offers encouragement for the possibilities for the future. It illustrates that learning is a lifelong enrollment. The teacher is the student, the student is also the teacher. Equilibrium. Balance..."

New Faces of Bonsai...

I have just posted a bunch of photos on my facebook page of the Not so New faces that were strolling around the recent GSBF Convention in Santa Clara, and a couple of New ones...

Now that I am finally on facebook (about 3 years later than everybody else, but maybe just fashionably late :o)... please find me and send me a friend request because who doesn't want to have lots of friends, and I love seeing what everyone else is doing. It's so much fun to 'meet' other bonsai fans! (Although facebook is a great way to lose an entire afternoon that should be spent doing something productive, I have found. When will the site post a warning label that it may be hazardous to your occupation?)

Here is a picture of my Vendor Table: (some of the pots may look familiar)

It was a really great Convention, and it was so good to see so many friends together in the same place. I received wonderful feedback on those new pots. I think I'm going in a direction that is worth pursuing. Back to the studio...

Exhibition of 25 New Works

(A 'behind the scenes' look at this photo shoot...)

To see some of the pots made in 2008, click here or on the image below.

 -- a few from 2007... click here or the image below.

-- a few pots made earlier this year:

(These are now in the collections of Shirley Kavanaugh, Jim Doyle, and other bonsai artists who attended the 2010 Shohin Convention.)

All of these pots are one of a kind, originals - made, photographed, and published here by Michelle Dougherty. Please do not "borrow," "copy," or "steal" any images without first requesting permission from the artist : michelle@bunjinjournal.com