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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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Centennial stamper

National parks cancellation stamps photo by Chandler O'Leary

I don’t know about you, but on this, the National Park Service centennial, this millennial is paging through her big fat stack of stamped pages, proof of a lifetime of national parks love. Apparently I like to cram that ink into every nook and cranny of my passport—but that’s good, because I’m trying to leave room for many more to come. Happy 100th birthday, NPS—here’s to many more!

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The road goes ever on and on

Mission San Juan Capistrano photo by Chandler O'Leary

I just got back from over a month of traveling—first by way of a road trip to the bottom of California and back, and immediately afterward, a one-way Florida-to-Washington drive with a friend. In 33 days I logged well over 8,000 miles, and crossed several vastly different regions of the country. So even with the help of my trusty sketchbooks, my memories of the trip aren’t terribly linear. They’re more of a jumble of images flashing through my mind—so in that spirit, here is a similar jumble of images.

Grave Creek Bridge photo by Chandler O'Leary Bixby Creek Bridge photo by Chandler O'Leary Elephant seal pups photo by Chandler O'Leary Weeki Watchee mermaid photo by Chandler O'Leary Ybor City tile photo by Chandler O'Leary Solvang windmill photo by Chandler O'LearyPalm Springs photo by Chandler O'Leary Mt. Shasta photo and sketch by Chandler O'Leary Mt. Rainier aerial photo by Chandler O'Leary St. Roch's Cemetery photo by Chandler O'Leary Mission San Francisco Solano photo by Chandler O'Leary Shields Date Garden photo by Chandler O'Leary Mobile, Alabama photo by Chandler O'Leary Beltane Ranch photo by Chandler O'Leary Pt. Bolivar lighthouse photo by Chandler O'Leary Tucson photo by Chandler O'Leary Saguaro National Park photo by Chandler O'Leary Saguaro National Park sketch by Chandler O'Leary Sausalito house boats photo by Chandler O'Leary San Antonio Riverwalk photo by Chandler O'Leary Alamo photo by Chandler O'Leary Texas flag photo by Chandler O'Leary Marfa photo and sketch by Chandler O'Leary Laguna Beach photo by Chandler O'Leary New Orleans photo by Chandler O'Leary

Now that I’m back in the studio, I’m trying hard to get my momentum back on my ongoing projects—and to suppress (for a little while, at least) the ideas that are coming as thick and fast as the images in my memory. We’ll see how long I last before some new project (or twelve) comes out of this trip…

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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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Columbia River Gorge photo and sketch by Chandler O'Leary

We’ve had a string of unseasonably sunny days lately—so rather than stay cooped up inside the studio, I headed down to Portland to do a little drawing. Just east of town is the stunning Historic Columbia River Highway, which serves up vista after vista of the Columbia River Gorge. All I had to do was sit back, open up the sketchbook, and enjoy the view.

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Home (work).

Odometer photo by Chandler O'Leary

We got home from our holiday road trip last night—and the number on the trip odometer feels like an accomplishment.

What was waiting for me, however—

Post photo by Chandler O'Leary

—feels a bit like a Sisyphean task.

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Let’s get this snow on the road

Rocky Mountains photo by Chandler O'Leary

The Tailor and I are off on a winter road trip to spend the holidays with family and friends. I chose this picture out of pure wishful thinking, in hopes that the mountains in our path will be bare of snow…

Olympic Mountains photo by Chandler O'Leary

…though I have a feeling they’re going to look a lot more like this.

Blue spruce photo by Chandler O'Leary

Wherever you’re spending your holidays this year, may the short days be filled with bright winter sunshine—

Holiday lights photo by Chandler O'Leary

—and may the nights glow with warm, festive light.

Happy holidays!

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Maritime meandering

Sketch by Chandler O'Leary

I just got back from a glorious trip to the Canadian Maritimes with my best friend. We got to spend lots of time catching up,

Prince Edward Island lighthouse photo by Chandler O'Leary

live our childhood Anne of Green Gables fantasies,

Prince Edward Island lobster photo by Chandler O'Leary

eat our weight in lobster (and sport the latest bib fashions),

Souvenirs photo by Chandler O'Leary

contemplate hilarious souvenirs (I don’t think the polar bears are for sale, dude)—

Cape Breton photo by Chandler O'Leary

—as well as the inexplicable—

Cabot Trail sketches by Chandler O'Leary

—and of course, have plenty of time for sketching. I’ll be posting the occasional sketchbook drawing from the trip over at my Drawn the Road Again blog, so feel free to follow along!

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Island cure

San Juan Islands photo by Chandler O'Leary

If you’re like me, and you need a break from the studio every once in a while, I’d recommend hopping on a ferry and heading for the San Juan Islands.

San Juan Islands photo by Chandler O'Leary

Spend a few days soaking up the sights,

Orcas Island sketch by Chandler O'Leary

and maybe bring along your paintbox.

San Juan Islands photo by Chandler O'Leary

I guarantee, you’ll leave refreshed and good as new.

San Juan Islands photo by Chandler O'Leary

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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!