I've been growing Bonsai as an artistic discipline for over thirty years, beginning in my native England and now in the USA. Having been trained in graphic design, which I practiced until my relocation in 2001, it is inevitable that I have some personal opinions about the creativity of Bonsai design.
I want each Bonsai I create to be different, as original as possible. I have no interest in slavishly following classic styles, although learning them is an essential step to realizing ones own original designs - as important as learning good techniques or horticultural practices. But once we have learned the stylistic traditions, we should observe what they achieve aesthetically and seek our own ways to achieve the same.
Appeared at these events:
Appeared in these magazines:
Awards: Gold Medal Winner Chelsea Flower Show and others.
Books: "The Art of Bonsai Design", "Bonsai (a care manual)", "Bonsai Survival Manual: Tree-by-Tree Guide to buying, maintaining and problem solving"
More information about Colin Lewis
The Japanese and Chinese look to their landscapes for inspiration, and they draw on their cultural and artistic heritage for the visual language with which to turn their inspiration into bonsai. This is evident in their different Bonsai aesthetics. Yet the thing that drives them to create Bonsai art, the 'spirit of bonsai' is universal - entirely cross-cultural, east or west.
I believe we should draw upon our own western artistic and cultural heritage to discover new acceptabilities in Bonsai aesthetics. If Bonsai is an art, it must evolve and progress. Such evolution is not led by a hierarchy or elite group (not in any art) but by individual artists who understand the spirit of Bonsai and have the courage and dedication to explore new paths.
If we are to create ever more imaginative and evocative bonsai, we should also look to our own western landscapes for inspiration. But there is one source of inspiration that is common to all Bonsai enthusiasts, wherever they live: that fanciful landscape of the mind where anything is possible. Creativity begins with imagination, and the determination that if you can imagine it, you can make it.
Some of Colin Lewis's Bonsai trees
Blue Spruce (Han-Kengai)
Location: Maine, USA
Email: see website