This series started with a title, and that almost never happens to me. By the time I sketched the very first piece I could not remember how exactly I came up with “Stories of the Forest,” but the initial idea was to make ink drawings of groups of trees and shrubs that would gradually fade into the paper collage background to showcase the beauty of common plant inhabitants of Western Oregon forests where I often hike. Every little plant, every shrub and tree have a story to tell if we look close, and together they weave a more complicated story that makes some unassuming spot in the forest look amazing.
It all looked good in pencil, but moving forward with inking was a different story. It looked too busy. Varying density of strokes and dots didn’t really work, so two ruined drawings I decided to change the approach. Maybe pen and ink was not the right choice for what I wanted to achieve, or maybe (and more likely) I failed to collaborate with my pens properly.
So I started to remove details that were less essential from my sketches, starting with varied growth under and behind tree branches, then with nonessential branches themselves. I do all corrections on tracing paper laid on top of the original sketch that needs to be improved. This considerably speeds up the process and keeps new ideas flowing without interruption of redrawing the same parts of a sketch.
And that’s how I’ve ended up with just a few leaves and scarcely spaced branches, letting the gently colored background to hint at whatever a viewer wants to see in the finished piece. There is special beauty in simplicity, and that old saying “less is more” gave me exactly what I wanted.