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Rereading the map

50 States pictorial map illustrated and hand-lettered by Chandler O'Leary
I finished this map before the airwaves were inundated with red and blue election maps—and today it’s a good reminder that America is more than its electoral divisions. That there is good in every state, and that there is so much to love and celebrate in every nook and cranny of our nation. This is why I started the 50 States project three years ago, and I’m taking the fact that I happened to finish the series right before the most divisive election in living memory as a sign that I need to remember this fact going forward. After all, the real work of our country involves all of us.
 
Those of you who read my travel blog know that I express my love for every state—blue, red, purple, whatever—through my drawings. I will continue to do so, to feature the beauty and wonder and hilarity and kooky humor of every state. That is what will get me through the fear and sadness and anger I’m feeling now—and I hope it will help you in some small measure, as well. So the break I took from blogging to focus on our book is over; Drawn the Road Again starts back up again tomorrow.
 
In the meantime, you can celebrate all 50 States with me tonight at the Ted Sanford Gallery at Charles Wright Academy in University Place, WA, where the entire series is on display through November 29. From 5:30 to 6:30 tonight I’ll have a gallery reception and small pop-up shop. Let’s talk about the good that’s out there—from Paul Bunyan to Elvis to the World’s Largest Frying Pan, and everything in between, from sea to shining sea.
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Double features

Atlas Obscura feature on Chandler O'Leary

 

I wanted to let you know about some fun online articles I’ve been a part of lately. First up is one I’ve mentioned briefly before: the folks at one of my favorite travel websites, Atlas Obscura, have been doing a series of features on roadside attractions, featuring some of my sketchbook drawings. The series started with an interview about my Drawn the Road blog—

Atlas Obscura feature on Chandler O'Leary

and has since expanded to a series of detailed features on some of my favorite roadside oddities.

Atlas Obscura feature on Chandler O'Leary

My favorite part is watching their ever-growing map dotted with pins representing where I’ve sketched things. I hope to see that thing peppered with dots before long! You can find all the features to date here. Many thanks to Allison Meier for devoting so much good ink to my sketches!

Roosterwax feature on Chandler O'Leary

The other series I wanted to share is one on a local architectural studies site for kids and teens called Roosterwax. When their president, Lauren Hirt, asked if she could feature some of my sketches on the site, I said yes simply because I was excited about Roosterwax’s mission. But I had no idea just how wonderful a thing I was in for when I went to look at the first post.

Roosterwax feature on Chandler O'Leary

Each week Roosterwax features a different architectural sketch of mine—but the sketch is merely the starting point. Lauren writes a thoughtful and detailed post to go with each sketch, and analyzes my work the same way an art historian might—breaking each piece down into its technical and compositional details for students to investigate.

Roosterwax feature on Chandler O'Leary

The result is both flattering and humbling for me (and maybe a little nervewracking, since my drawings always have mistakes in them!)—I’m used to analyzing the work of others that way, but I’ve never experienced it myself.

Roosterwax feature on Chandler O'Leary

Most of all, I love reading each post because it gets me to think like a student again. After a lifetime of drawing, many of the skills and tricks I learned in school (and afterward) have become ingrained, but I always feel like my sketches could be better. Reading each Roosterwax post is like having my own little private (and super kind) critique each week, giving me lots of ideas for improving as an artist. I can only hope that together we can inspire some aspiring architects, as well!

You can follow along each Friday, on the Roosterwax site. Thanks so much, Lauren—looking forward to the next installment!

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Two shows, one night

Exhibits by Jessica Spring and Chandler O'Leary

Both Jessica and I have solo shows on display right now, and while they deal with different topics, our similar personalities and interests made for a surprising number of overlaps. While we were marveling at how much our shows had in common with each other (which was especially funny, considering that neither of us saw the other’s exhibit until both were installed!), it occurred to us that it might be fun to have our receptions on the same night.

Exhibits by Jessica Spring and Chandler O'Leary

So we joined this month’s Third Thursday Artwalk and created a mini gallery crawl of our own. Here’s how it works: stop by my reception at the Tacoma Public Library first and pick up a letterpress keepsake. Then take your keepsake down the hill to Jessica’s reception at the Old Post Office (which is exactly 5 blocks from the library), and print a phrase on it with her antique printing press. Both events are free and open to the public. We’ll also have a small pop-up shop at Jessica’s reception, stocked with goodies related to our shows and also featuring guest artist Mare Blocker.

Artwork by Jessica Spring and Chandler O'Leary

Here’s the skim milk:

Third Thursday Art Walk: Dual Exhibition Receptions

Stop 1: Drawn the Road Again
Solo exhibition by Chandler O’Leary
4 to 5:30 pm
Tacoma Public Library Handforth Gallery
1102 Tacoma Avenue South

Stop 2: reCollection
A Spaceworks installation by Jessica Spring
5 to 9 pm
Old Tacoma Post Office, north end of lobby
1102 A Street

Exhibits by Jessica Spring and Chandler O'Leary

Put on your walkin’ shoes, and we’ll fire up the press—see you on Thursday!

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Fiberglass and frames

Installation photo of "Drawn the Road Again" exhibition by Chandler O'Leary

‘Scuse the bad photos—all I had on me was a mobile phone and a shaky hand. But that’s okay, because if you’re local, you can see the real thing. I just finished installing my newest solo show, featuring sketchbook drawings of roadside attractions!

Installation photo of "Drawn the Road Again" exhibition by Chandler O'Leary

I went for a wide variety of favorite fiberglass and concrete monuments—not just here in Washington, but all over the U.S. (and even in Canada). The result is 30 drawings of roadside kitsch, from giant food to warring twine balls to bovine behemoths. Here are the details:

Drawn the Road Again: Roadside Attractions sketched by Chandler O’Leary
On display through October 25, 2014
Handforth Gallery, Tacoma Public Library
1102 Tacoma Ave. South, Tacoma, WA
Reception: Thursday, October 16, 4 to 5:30 pm

For the reception on October 16, I’m trying something a little different: instead of an opening reception, it’s more of a closing one. And that’s because I’m teaming up with my buddy Jessica Spring to do double receptions that night, with a joint keepsake! Here’s how it works: stop by my show first and pick up a commemorative illustrated postcard. Then head down to Jessica’s reception at the Old Post Office (which is just a few blocks down the hill at 1102 A Street), and print a saying on your postcard with Jessica’s antique platen press. More details on her show can be found here (scroll down).

Installation photo of "Drawn the Road Again" exhibition by Chandler O'Leary

Many thanks to David Domkoski and the Tacoma Public Library for hosting me and providing such a great and visible space, and to Mary-Alice for helping me hang the show and stay sane! (Also for wearing the best Chuck Taylors I’ve seen in years.)

Sharky's Souvenir Shop sketch by Chandler O'Leary

One more thing—if you can’t be there in the flesh, you can find all the fiberglass on the Drawn the Road Again blog! I’ll be featuring roadside attractions from now through the end of the show (new posts every Monday, Wednesday and Friday)—many that are in the exhibit, and some extra goodies that are just online.

See you there—in the meantime, watch out for sharks!

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Milestone

Collage of road sketches by Chandler O'Leary

I have no idea where the time has gone, but today marks the first anniversary of my illustrated travel blog, Drawn the Road Again! In the past year, I’ve jumped around in both time and place to share as many different travel sketches as I could. But what I might just love the most is sketching the road itself—so in honor of the occasion, I put together a little collage of road sketches posted in the last year.

Sharing my travel sketches has truly been a labor of love—thank you so much for coming along with me for the ride! I can’t tell you what it means to have the encouragement of your comments, social media posts, online sharing, travel recommendations, emails, and even actual mail (you know who you are!). I never dreamed of the response my sketches would have, and I am awed and humbled by your support. Thanks to you, I can’t wait to see what lies just beyond the horizon. You can bet I’ll be ready, sketchbook in hand.

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Via kangaroo mail

Frankie Magazine feature on "Drawn the Road Again" by Chandler O'Leary

Look what was in the gigantic mailbag yesterday! The kind folks at the Australian magazine Frankie did a feature on my Drawn the Road Again blog! Not only is it an honor to be included, but this might just be the most gorgeous magazine I’ve ever seen. (And they even tied it up with pretty twine when they sent me my copy—swoon.) I know that at least a handful of stockists carry Frankie outside of Oz—so if you’re lucky enough to live near one, be sure to pick up a copy and see all the beautiful goodies inside.

Many thanks to Holly M. and Frankie Press for interviewing me!

Frankie Magazine

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Hand-lettered holidays

"Deck the Halls" holiday card by Chandler O'Leary

Even though it’s nearly as late as it could possibly be, here I am thinking, “Already?!?” But it’s true—even if you don’t do Black Friday (as you can probably guess, I’m partial to Small Business Saturday myself), today’s the “official” opener of the holiday season. And for perhaps the first time ever, I’m actually ready for it! (Well, mostly.) This year I’ve got new stuff in three different online shops—in honor of the three arms of my little business (though of course, if you ever want to combine items into one order, just drop me a line and I’ll make it happen).

First up is my Anagram Press shop, where you’ll find two new holiday cards, inspired by mid-century vintage kitsch.

"Wagon in a Winter Wonderland" holiday card by Chandler O'Leary

(One has just a touch of Griswold-y goodness…)

iPop "Clicks" magnets illustrated by Chandler O'Leary

Also in there are my new bird magnets by Seattle’s own iPop! I’m so proud and excited to have these that I’m tempted to plaster every metal surface in my studio with them. (You can read my post about them here.)

Washington State illustration by Chandler O'Leary

Next up, a little holiday travel: I’m pleased to announce the Souvenir Shop is now open on Drawn the Road Again, my new travel blog! You’ll find a big array of prints available there—

Oregon State illustration by Chandler O'Leary

from the first installments of my new 50 States Series

San Francisco illustration by Chandler O'Leary

—to original illustrations inspired by travel destinations.

Paul Bunyan sketchbook print by Chandler O'Leary

And because enough people have asked for it, there are even prints of some of my sketchbook drawings—including a Pick-a-Sketch custom order option.

"Dome-inatrix" letterpress print by Chandler O'Leary and Jessica Spring

Last but not least, the Dead Feminists shop has some new additions as well—starting with a small letterpress keepsake version of the Birth of Venus steamroller print Jessica and I did earlier this year.

"Dead Feminists" letterpress journal by Chandler O'Leary and Jessica Spring

And we’ve finally restocked our supply of mini letterpress journals (you folks cleaned us out last time we had them in the shop, and it took quite awhile to make and photograph more!). We call ’em “Lemonade Journals,” because we made them from the “lemons” that crop up during printing—misregistered prints and tiny flaws that otherwise would have ended up in the recycling bin. But with some cute stitching and fun colored paper on the inside, Jessica turned them into perfect little stocking stuffers.

"Dead Feminists" letterpress journal by Chandler O'Leary and Jessica Spring

Whew! That’s the whole kit n’ kaboodle. Keep in mind that some of the travel and sketchbook prints require a lead time to produce, so be sure to get any made-to-order requests in early! I’ll be shipping holiday orders daily until 4 pm PST on Tuesday, December 17 (when the shops will close for the holiday break).

In the meantime, I’m raising a virtual glass of eggnog to you: happy holidays!

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Let’s go!

"Motion Pictures" sketch by Chandler O'Leary

If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you already know that I keep a sketchbook with me wherever I go. And I go a lot of places. Over the years, this has translated to literally hundreds of drawings. Basically, I had a whole, huge body of work that nobody had ever seen, because somehow it never quite fit within the little world I had created online.

Until now.

"Drawn the Road Again" masthead illustration by Chandler O'Leary

I’m pleased to present Drawn the Road Again, a new kind of travel blog. You won’t find a single photograph on the site. Everything I post there is entirely illustrated—from scenic panoramas to urban gems to roadside attractions.

The blog isn’t in real time—nor does it follow any one trip from beginning to end. It jumps around from place to place, at different times, depending on the season, or the occasional running theme, or whatever happens to be on my mind. The result is a broad sampling of topics and places—I hope you’ll find it as much fun as I do.

Soon there will even be a little shop on the site, offering brand-new illustrations based on my travels. I’m still working out a few technical hiccups on the site, so look for the shop to go live in early August. I’ll make a quick announcement when it’s up and running.

This project has truly been a labor of love, and would not exist without the help of some very good friends. And I’m grateful to everyone who ever thumbed through one of my sketchbooks and said, “You should really put this online!” I finally listened.

So without further ado, let’s hit the road!