Matt Reel. Another American apprentice in Japan. From Kinbon magazine via Michael Hagedorn’s Crataegus Bonsai.
Japan’s most prestigious
I don’t think it’s very often that a young American bonsai apprentice shows up in Kinbon, Japan’s most prestigious bonsai magazine. The artist is Matt Reel, who has been apprenticing in Japan under Shinji Suzuki since 2006. Matt is from Portland, Oregon (that’s where Michael Hagedorn and Crataegus reside). If you’d like see more photos and read what Michael has to say about Matt, you can visit Crataegus (one of my favorite bonsai sites).
Michael’s excellent book
Michael Hagedorn also apprenticed in Japan with Shinji Suzuki. The good news here, aside from some great bonsai, is that Michael can write. The proof is in his excellent and eminently readable book: Post-Dated – The Schooling of an Irreverent Bonsai Monk. You can find it at Stone Lantern (of course).
Below: A Rocky Mountain Juniper, also from Crataegus Bonsai (but not by Matt).
A Rocky Mountain Juniper from Crataegus Bonsai that has nothing to do with Matt Reel.
In Michael words
Here’s what Michael Hagedorn has to say about this tree:
This juniper has been growing in my backyard for a year. It’s a client tree, another of the great native yamadori that was collected by Randy Knight of Oregon Bonsai.
Junipers don’t like to be repotted very early, they do better when repotted in late spring when it’s warmer. So this tree, which is in a box, needed a prop of a wooden block that could support it for a few months, at which time it would be potted in a bonsai container. I also cut the box with a circular saw and leveled the soil surface at the new inclination so watering would be easier.
It’s a fun tree, dynamic, and I liked the tensions between the jin to the left and the foliage to the right. I get into arguments with people about which way the foliage should go when there is jin or shari present in a forceful way. The jin or shari, in the presumed environment of the tree, are a great hint: Where the storms are coming from, prevailing winds, etc. If a jin is pointing in one direction, the living part of tree should be styled in the other direction. I see even professionals doing very strange things with jin, as an indicator of wind direction. Only several trees ‘flag’ in the wind, spruce being one of them. Juniper is not one of them. Go into the mountains and the dead limbs are facing the environment. Check out the Monterey cypresses; same story.
To critique my own work , I think the apex should be about three inches to the left. That would bring it closer to the base and more stable. Something for the next reworking…
(I’ve noticed an acute lack of dissension on this blog… the folks who are thinking, ‘You’re a flake, Hagedorn, and don’t know what you’re doing,’ are not writing. Please write your real thoughts!)