Thursday, September 4, 2014

Bonsai, an interactive art form

Landscape painting has been on my mind a lot lately. I have spent the good portion of a year photographing and painting the incredible architecture in the city of Chicago, but now nature is calling out to me. Earth, rock, trees, green... mother nature is alive and constantly changing, the reason why I love painting her.

This week I became the owner of Serrissa Foetida. It has always been important to me to have live plants indoors (and outdoors when ever possible). I used to have bonsai, before I moved to Chicago, but am now rebuilding my indoor garden, slowly but surely. I think of these plants as sculptural art and the knowledge and care required to keep them alive makes this an interactive art form.

Serrissa Foetida Bonsai, Tree of a thousand stars
The Serissa foetida has small oval leaves, it can explode with small white star flowers several times per year giving it the nickname the "Tree of a thousand stars".

Taken from the book "Bonsai, the art of growing and keeping miniature trees" by Peter Chan:

"Bonsai is an art form. Like any of the other visual arts such as painting and sculpture, it has all the essential aesthetic elements of composition, balance, perspective, depth, texture, color, and so on. The analogy of bonsai with painting in general, and landscape painting in particular, is especially appropriate. The objectives both in landscape painting and in bonsai are the same, in each case to create on a reduced scale what one observes in nature." (p. 9)

I have painted the landscape featuring bonsai throughout the years. I plan on getting back into the roots (pun intended) of bonsai as subject and recently came to a clear understanding why I feel so connected to this after reading Peter Chan's book.

I also have my eye on a very old Chinese Elm, but these trees require a lifelong commitment of watering and care, something that a painting does not require. 


  1. I'm playing catchup with blogs. Your work is amazing and I love the bonsai, wonderful analogy of bonsai and painting.

  2. Beautiful work Robin. Your bonsai is a beauty too. I admire your commitment to plants.
    I have easy care house plants- it's about all I can handle.