Domino Pool

“Domino Pool”, 11×14″ oil on stretched canvas, 2018


Original available @ $150.00

Prints available:

Gallery wrapped Canvas @ $100.00

Heavy Watercolor Paper, matted

36# paper, matted


This is on a Trout Stream in the Blue Ridge just after Leaf Drop, a warm afternoon following a chilly mornin’… not sure which stream it is, probably the Rose or the Hughes… but i am sure there’s Trout in there…

Toadie – Singin’ in the Shower

“Toadie – Singin’ in the Shower”, acrylics on 4×6″ hardboard panel with 3/4″ pine cradle, 2018


Original in Amy’s Collection


Prints available:

Heavy Watercolor Paper, matted

36# paper, matted


Painted from a photo taken the previous season of a Toad sitting and singing under a waterfall in a Garden Pond during breeding season. This is a commissioned work.

Tray Landscapes

One of my favorites, this Forest Planting is mainly composed of Musk-Scented Maples, with a Parker’s Jasmine to the far right. A number of moss species, selaginellas, and lichens form the understory plantings, and it rests on a slab of Colorado granite. The taller trees are about 6-8″, and were about ten years old and in training when the picture was taken.


Traditional bonsai, especially the Japanese variety, could be viewed as straight-laced, tradition-bound, and rigid, clinging tightly to a set of well thought out and time-proven rules. And that has served the Art of bonsai well, producing valuable masterpieces enduring for centuries, in some cases.

But sometimes, especially if you have Western sensibilities, a little freedom from the rules, while still keeping the Spirit of bonsai intact, can produce intriguing new works of bonsai Art. Tray landscapes allow the use of combined plants and rocks that complement each other and produce something greater than the sum of it’s parts, where the individuals might fall short if used as traditional bonsai.

Beginning in China, spreading to Japan, and blossoming in the Americas and Europe, Tray Landscapes have emerged as a legitimate bonsai style. I am proud to have helped push this style forward. Here is the outline I used in classes and workshops.

A Tray Landscape with a tropical theme. Red lava rock is used to suggest a seaside point. Chinese Sweet Plum and Fujian Tea are the main trees, with Golden Fern, dwarf Mondo, Irish Moss, and other mosses and lichens as secondaries. Blue gravel symbolizes the Sea, while brown and white sands suggest a Beach with breaking waves. A fine quality Japanese pot contains the scene.


Refinement & Evolution

Refinement of Bonsai

 This Buddhist Pine (Podocarpus maki) was obtained from a nursery. It was damaged and in poor shape. The original plant was spindly and over 5′ tall, the developing bonsai was about 40″ tall in the pot.

Initially, the top couple feet of the plant was cut off and a deadwood stub was left. The top branch was wired upright, and a spiral of deadwood was cut into the trunk. After a year, or two, the upright branch was killed off and the bark stripped to give it the look of a dead snag at the top of the tree.

The branching/foliage you see in the “intermediate” and “after” photos was all developed from the two green branches in the “before” picture. This shaping was accomplished by spiraling wire around each branch and then bending the branch to the desired shape. The wire then held the branches in place until they made enough growth to stiffen and become set in that position. Simultaneously, the green shoots were selectively pruned to force them to bud back and grow denser, smaller foliage. That combination produced the results shown in the “after” photo.

 Future development would call for continued pruning to make the foliage even more compact and smaller, while making the masses more rounded and spreading, improving the balance. The spiral driftwood will be expanded by nibbling away at the scar tissue forming at the edge of the living bark, eventually reducing the live bark to a very thin strip. The dwarfed foliage will be thinned and the smaller branches developed in more detail to balance better with the reduced amount of live bark. The driftwood/deadwood effect will be maintained by bleaching and preserving it. If the live bark stays attractive as it sheds and cracks it will be kept, but it is more likely that it will be peeled slowly to expose the underbark, which is the same color as the pot. The underbark will be polished to maintain a pleasing texture. These effects will take decades to refine, and the tree could potentially live for centuries in skilled care. That is the Art of Bonsai.


This is a scanned copy of a handout that came with my first advanced bonsai classes in 1988. It was originally produced on a manual typewriter.
Bonsai is the art or process of dwarfing a woody plant by limiting it’s environment (just as Nature does in some circumstances) and by physically manipulating it to emulate full sized trees, in miniature. There is a lot of information in this small handout, if you think about and expand the ideas presented in it.

© 1988, 2017 Mike Kling