“Nature”; W 10 1/2″ x D 5 3/4″ x H 6″;Serpentine from Clear Creek
A good suiseki combines human art and craft with nature to make a harmonious whole.
At the time Mas found this stone – in the mid-1990s – he didn’t know what to do with it. It has good color and shape for suiseki, but the corners at the sides are missing and there is a sharp undercut on the back. Also, if you evaluate it based on san-men-no-hou (the rule of three dimensions), the proportions are wrong – it’s too high for it’s width.
In the traditional northern California form, the daiza rim makes a straight line across the stone. The emphasis is on showing the natural stone and the human-created element is minimized. For many stones I think this is a very beautiful way to display them (in particular stones that have a balanced harmony that makes for a quiet, elegant feeling). However, very few stones have the kind of proportions and flat bottom that allow them to be finished without alteration. In most cases, you either have to cut the stone, or carve a daiza that is too deep for the stone’s proportions (unless it’s that rare stone with a fairly flat bottom and near-perfect shape). To finish “Nature” in this manner would require cutting the stone at the line shown – and Mas felt that it would lose its movement and excitement. Cutting a stone is always an option, but should only be done if it will improve the stone’s balance and harmony and result in a much better suiseki.
To solve the problem, Mas tried to carve a base that would complete the imperfect areas instead of hide them. In this way, the human element – the carved daiza – becomes an integral part of the composition. This requires the artist to find a balance between following nature and imposing a human vision. To be successful, it is necessary to observe nature – the stone and the wood – carefully and use artistic judgment to match the movement of the stone with the flow of the wood grain.
Shortly after completing this suiseki, he found this piece of driftwood at the Eel River. The similarity between the form of the driftwood and that of the daiza is sort of uncanny. Mas feels that by studying natural objects such as this driftwood you can get some valuable lessons for your life. He says he has learned from suiseki that “Nature is not perfect. I am way imperfect, so how can I expect other people to be perfect?”.