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Mr. Wong’s Giant Bonsai

Mr. Wong's Giant Bonsai, ink & watercolor sketch, 8x5"
Mr. Wong’s Giant Bonsai, ink & watercolor, 8×5″

The 90-year-old owner of this house on Allston and McGee in Berkeley has trimmed the bonsai trees in his garden for 50 years and they are beautiful. I enjoyed sketching from in front of his house while my sketch buddies took posts across the street and on the corner.

I have a whole bunch of paintings and sketches to post so I may keep my writing brief on some of them in order to get caught up. This is one of the brief ones.

Update: When Carol asked if “Giant Bonsai” is an oxymoron I looked it up. According to Wikipedia:

The purposes of bonsai are primarily contemplation (for the viewer) and the pleasant exercise of effort and ingenuity (for the grower).

Bonsai practice focuses on long-term cultivation and shaping of one or more small trees growing in a container. Bonsai does not require genetically dwarfed trees, but rather depends on growing small trees from regular stock and seeds. Bonsai uses cultivation techniques like pruning, root reduction, potting, defoliation, and grafting to produce small trees that mimic the shape and style of mature, full-size trees.

So apparently I was wrong to call these trees Bonsai since they are growing in the ground and while shaped like Bonsai trees, actually are full-sized trees. So it’s not an oxymoron, but I wonder if there is a word to describe this situation: “A full-sized tree cultivated to look like a miniature tree that is cultivated to look like a full-sized tree, only in miniature.” ????

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Two-Minute Tuesday Night Sketching at Cathy’s, Part I

Cathy's Bonsai, ink & watercolor
Cathy's Bonsai, ink & watercolor

Tuesday night we met at Cathy’s house instead of a public place where moving every two minutes with a timer ringing would be a nuisance. We started on her deck to the sound of burbling water and birds singing and lovely sights all around and warmed up with an untimed sketch. Drawing this little bonsai on the table in front of me was just what I needed to unwind from the crazy day. The sun went down and it was nearly dark when I painted it.

Then we went inside and started the timed two-minute sketches.

Orchid, 2 minute sketch, ink & watercolor
Orchid, 2 minute ink sketch (watercolor added later)

Cathy’s Berkeley Craftsman style home is a serene oasis decorated with simplicity and a Japanese zen style. Open space and emptiness balances still-life displays of special objects, art and her wonderful collections.  She set the timer for two minutes and said “Go” and we moved through the house, our eyes and pens devouring tender new morsels around every corner every two minutes.

I added the watercolor at home later for these two sketches.

Cathy's Calla Display, ink & watercolor
6 minute sketch: Cathy's Calla Display, ink & watercolor

After each set of 6 two-minutes sketches we met back at the dining room table to look at each other’s sketches. When I saw Sonia’s calla lily and apples sketch I realized I’d missed that corner. I liked that display so much I chose to ignore the two-minute bells and spent six  minutes enjoying drawing this one.

I’ll post the rest of the sketches after I add color to them. I am soooo lucky to have such great, dedicated sketching buddies!