Mister Windswept Bonsai 3/23/13

Robert Steven’s simulation of the tree pictured below.

If you search windswept bonsai, you’ll most likely notice that almost all of the best windswept trees belong to Robert Steven. You could even say that Robert Steven is Mr. Windswept Bonsai. Both as an artist and as an authority on the subject. But then, you could say that about other types of bonsai as well (check out some previous critiques by Robert if you want some evidence).

So, given this fact, here’s Mr. Windswept Bonsai himself with another of his illuminating critiques. This one is of unspecified variety of tree that was presented to Robert for critique by Daniel Suykerbuyk.


Here’s the photo that Daniel Suykerbuyk sent to Robert.


A lot of people misperceive Windswept bonsai as a slanting tree with all the branches growing in one direction. In fact a convincing Windswept bonsai is not a tree with one-directional branching, but rather a tree with branching that suggests a moving illusion.

Any tree in nature can be blown by wind, so any style of bonsai can be formed into Windswept.

The tree as presented looks more like it’s falling due to an accident rather than a tree being blown by strong wind. When a very strong wind is blowing, it pulls upward toward the sky rather than pushing downward.

This effect is especially noticeable on the upper parts of the tree where the branching should be slanting upward. The lower branches can be pointing slightly downward with the twigs pointing slightly upward or more or less horizontal.

The trick to creating a moving illusion on Windswept bonsai is to create an unbalanced effect with the twigs all moving in one direction, along with drastic bending of branches that are on the side where the wind comes from.

The drastic bending of the branches on the windward side illustrates a natural phenomenon when a tree is being blown by strong wind. The wind is bending the secondary branches and twigs but not the main branch, which holds its position while the smaller branches and twigs are being bent.

At the top of the post is my simulation. In order to improve the composition, I lifted the trunk up to slightly more vertical and used a smaller tray.


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.

To understand my concepts better, please read my books Vision of My Soul and Mission of Transformation which are available at Stone Lantern.

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4 thoughts on “Mister Windswept Bonsai

  1. Both “before” and “after” are quite convincing — you almost want to grab your hat! — but the simulation is an improvement.

    Robert’s comment on the effect of moving air — that it pulls *up* a bit — I almost slapped my head at that one. Of course! That’s the principle that lets an airplane fly, after all!

    Thanks for posting this. Very much worth reading!

  2. Fascinating ~ subtle differences and such a dramatic result ~ as so often it seems so obvious once one is show, but it takes a Master to make it look so simple.
    Many thanks ~

  3. Thanks Steve,

    That’s also why in an umbrella is turnned inside out and a lady’s skirt is blown upward like in M. Monroe’s pose. The same principle is used in comics…

    Best regards,
    Robert S.

  4. Thank you robert steven for the virtual it es very nice natural very
    Thank you
    friendship daniel

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