Robert’s deft touch
If you look at the before and after shots, it’s easy to see that it’s the same tree. The trunk has been leaned slightly to the left, some branches have been lengthened and some shortened, it has a different pot and the placement in the pot has been moved. Nothing very radical, yet the effect is striking; the tree has transformed from simple potential to realization of that potential.
The focal point
The focal point of this tree is the curve of the trunk. This focal point has good value of interest, but is not well enough explored to create an outstanding bonsai. To the contrary, it imparts a negative effect on the upper part of the trunk, which becomes too vertical and straight. As a consequence the tree has less visual balance, less beauty and less evocation than it could have.
Judging by the character of the line and the shape of the crown, this tree looks rather feminine, soft and casual, but the shape of the pot with the strong sharp corners is too strong, too masculine for the tree. Consequently, the overall image is less charming than it could be.
My solution is to correct the straight vertical line of the trunk by leaning the tree slightly to the left. This creates a nice continuous flow with clear direction. In order to emphasize movement, the right branches are shortened and the left branches are lengthened.
The size of the crown is slightly reduced and opened up, creating more space and reducing the heavy feeling.
Finally, a new pot with rounded corners is used to fit the soft character of the tree. Now, with this new design, I believe that the overall effect is more charming and that a more cheerful mood is the result.
There is more than one way to design any bonsai and my critiques and recommended solutions might not always fit your taste and personal preferences, but I always try to give my opinion based on artistic and horticultural principles.
My bonsai blog address : http://robert-steven.ofbonsai.org