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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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Get gussied up

Tuesday is the day! Our book will be released worldwide on October 11, and we’re celebrating with a costume party! This is where you can be the first to get your hands on the book—and extra worth the effort if you want to see Jessica and me wearing ridiculous wigs. We don’t want to be the only ones celebrating Halloween early, so come on down and join the party. We’ll have prizes for the best outfits, Dead Feminists cake and punch, and a printing press ready to make your own keepsake. We’d love to sign a book for you, too. If you’re looking for costume ideas, you might dress up as one of the ladies in our book…

dead_feminists_color_photos

…or you might choose another favorite historical heroine, or a beloved fictional character, or even an historic feminist dude! Anything goes, and we can’t wait to see what you come up with. Here’s the skinny on the event:

Official Book Release Costume Party
Tuesday, October 11, 7 pm
Hosted by King’s Books
218 St. Helens Avenue, Tacoma, WA
Event is free, all ages welcome; more info here
Come in costume, dressed as your favorite historical feminist!

Installing the Dead Feminists exhibition at the 23Sandy Gallery in Portland, OR

In addition to finally sharing the book with you next week, we also wanted the chance to share some of our original artwork. So for the past two years we’ve been planning a big retrospective exhibit with the 23Sandy Gallery in Portland, OR. Laura Russell, the owner and curator of the gallery, has been a major supporter of our series since the beginning—and this week it was no different, as she jumped right in and helped us install our artwork in her space!

Exhibit of the Dead Feminists series by Chandler O'Leary and Jessica Spring at the 23Sandy Gallery in Portland, OR

The show features 10 original letterpress broadsides from our series, two mini-broadsides, original process materials, plus vintage ephemera from our book. This is the first time we’ve done a show like this, and 23Sandy is the only place you’ll still find some of our older, out-of-print broadsides available for sale.

Exhibit of the Dead Feminists series by Chandler O'Leary and Jessica Spring at the 23Sandy Gallery in Portland, OR

The exhibit also includes our 24th and newest broadside, but since she comes out on October 11, alongside the book, we have her hidden under a black veil for now. But you can see her—and all the other artwork—unveiled at our reception and book signing later this month. Here are the details:

Make-Ready: Dead Feminists from Print to Page
A Dead Feminists retrospective exhibit
on display through October 29

Reception & book signing Saturday, October 22
4 to 6 pm, free!
23Sandy Gallery
623 NE 23rd Ave, Portland, OR

Exhibit of the Dead Feminists series by Chandler O'Leary and Jessica Spring at the 23Sandy Gallery in Portland, OR

If you can’t make it to Portland, you can also learn more about the exhibit and view an online catalog on the 23Sandy website.

Make-Ready is just one of many different exhibits in the works this fall—we’ve got the Dead Feminists coming to galleries around the country for both solo and group shows. We’ll be sharing more info here on the blog soon, but as always, you can find all our events, shows, book signings and talks listed on the events page.

See you Tuesday—in costume!

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Let’s go sketching together

In-progress photo of Craneway Pavilion sketch by Chandler O'Leary

If you’re looking to bring a little sketching into your life, or you attended last month’s sketch outing and want a little training, you can learn the basics with me in July!

School of Visual Concepts photo by Chandler O'Leary

I’ll be teaching my one-day urban sketching workshop again at Seattle’s School of Visual Concepts on July 16—I only teach this workshop at most once a year, so if you’ve been wanting to get some drawing skills under your belt, this is your chance!

Materials for urban sketching workshop with Chandler O'Leary

In the class you’ll get a crash course in everything you need to get you on your feet and sketching. We’ll cover travel-friendly materials, tricks for setting the scene, finding inspiration on-the-go, and all kinds of drawing, watercolor, perspective and composition techniques.

In-progress photo of Chambers Bay Golf Course sketch by Chandler O'Leary

And of course, you’ll get plenty of hands-on experience with the chance to get out there and draw in the wild.

Students sketching in Seattle during urban sketching workshop with Chandler O'Leary

My favorite thing about teaching sketching workshops is seeing my students learn from each other. We’re all basically drawing the same thing, but since everyone has a different style, point of view and level of experience, the finished results are wildly varied.

Students sketching in Seattle during urban sketching workshop with Chandler O'Leary

Last year we all walked to South Lake Union Park, and I loved seeing what everyone chose to focus on in their sketchbooks.

Student sketching in Seattle during urban sketching workshop with Chandler O'Leary

We had both beginners and veterans among us that day, and everyone completed at least one full-color sketch (several went to town and came back with a whole handful of drawings!).

Student sketchbook drawings from urban sketching workshop with Chandler O'Leary

The really fun part is the end of class, where we all got together and shared our drawings. No two were even remotely alike, but all were completely gorgeous!

In-progress photo of San Francisco sketch by Chandler O'Leary

So if you want a fun kickstart to your new life as an urban sketcher, join us! Here are the details:

Urban Sketching: Learning on Foot
Saturday, July 16, 2016
School of Visual Concepts
2300 7th Avenue, Suite B, Seattle, WA
BYO sketching materials (a list of suggested materials will be sent when you sign up)
More info and registration here!
(Use the code GIVE_SMALL at checkout for a $25 discount!)

Note: unless it’s pouring rain, we’ll be sketching outdoors. Please dress accordingly, and plan to be on your feet! Bring lots of drinking water (and snacks if you need them), layered clothing, sunscreen, a protective hat, and good walking shoes. Last year it was 100°F outside, but thanks to everyone being prepared and smart about the heat, we still had a great time!

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Spilling the beans

Process photo of Dead Feminists book by Chandler O'Leary and Jessica Spring

A year ago we told our families and closest friends. A few months ago we started whispering to colleagues and acquaintances. Lately we’ve been spreading the word on the down-low, at events and gatherings. And now we can finally spill the beans in public:

Jessica and I are publishing a Dead Feminists book!

We’ve been hard at work for months already, and the writing, editorial and design part of the process is entering the home stretch. But it’s still too early for us to be able to share many nitty-gritty details, but we can tell you that the book will be called Dead Feminists: Historic Heroines in Living Color, and that it’s coming in October 2016 from Seattle’s very own Sasquatch Books.

There’s so much more to come, everything from photos to the cover design to sneak peeks to event details. But for now, enough things are still up in the air that we can’t show all our cards (or mix all our metaphors) at once. So to make sure you don’t miss any announcements, I suggest signing up for our mailing list.

More soon—we promise!

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St. Valentine’s Day Massacre

Tulips photo by Chandler O'Leary

Inside the house we have these this morning…

Photo by Chandler O'Leary

…but Valentine’s Day looks a little different in the yard. Spring is already on its way here, so we have to seize the moment and get going on the massive pile of landscaping projects we have planned for the year.

Photo by Chandler O'Leary

So we’re spending our romantic weekend with chainsaws and tree stumps. Hope your Valentine’s Day is a special one, too—whether you stick to tradition or not!

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Monkey business

Monkeyshines medallions illustrated and printed by Chandler O'Leary

Well, now that it’s been a whole year since I first showed you these, and the secret no longer needs keeping, I can tell you about what I did today. Today is the start of the lunar new year, and here in Tacoma we have a tradition that proves how wonderful this town is, year after year. The tradition is called “Monkeyshines,” a public treasure hunt through the city that falls on (or around) the first day of Chinese new year each year. The name comes from the Year of the Monkey on the Chinese zodiac cycle, exactly twelve years ago, when an anonymous artist going by the name “Ms. Monkey” created a few hundred colorful hand-blown glass floats, each one stamped with a monkey design, and hid them all over the city. Anyone who found one could take it home with them, and since only Ms. Monkey’s inner circle knew about it, it came as a complete surprise to those lucky few who found treasure that year. Over the years the tradition has grown and the secret has spread like wildfire, with more and more beautiful pieces of glass art being hidden around Tacoma with each cycle of the zodiac. Since the only rule is “take only one,” many people have taken to rehiding the ones they find, or contributing their own handmade treasures to the hunt. Not that it’s easy to find multiple Monkeyshines—or even one! Even now that there are thousands of treasures hidden each year, it’s still like finding the proverbial needle in the haystack. I’d never been lucky myself, coming up empty-handed year after year.

2015, the Year of the Ram, completed the 12-year zodiac cycle that started with that first treasure hunt. Ms. Monkey approached me (no, I won’t tell you who she is!) and asked if I would contribute some “Monkeyshines” of my own to the cause. I jumped at the chance: even though I’d never found a glass float myself, I loved the hunt, and by then I’d amassed a mental database of potential hidey-holes. By then I was more excited about the prospect of hiding treasure than of finding it. Besides, even though my work has been moving away from letterpress printing in recent years, it was fun to do a printing project again.

Monkeyshines medallion illustrated and printed by Chandler O'Leary

So I whipped up a little medallion design, and hand-carved it in linoleum.

Monkeyshines medallion illustrated and printed by Chandler O'Leary

Then I threw it onto my tiny tabletop press, and set to work.

Monkeyshines medallions illustrated and printed by Chandler O'Leary

I printed close to 500 medallions (until I ran out of paper and the block started to break down!), and then hand-assembled them in the style of my other letterpress ornaments.

Monkeyshines medallion illustrated and printed by Chandler O'Leary

And then came the fun part: hiding them all over Tacoma.

Monkeyshines medallion illustrated and printed by Chandler O'Leary

Since there were so many medallions, and I had to go out of town over Chinese new year, I enlisted friends to help, and staggered my own distribution over several weeks. Together we managed to canvass almost the entire city map, hitting both well-traveled areas and less-visited neighborhoods.

Monkeyshines medallion illustrated and printed by Chandler O'Leary

The hiding was, indeed, the best part. I loved walking inconspicuously at weird hours, my hands stuffed in my pockets and posing as a searcher, waiting until the coast was clear to pop another medallion into one of Tacoma’s nooks and crannies. Sometimes I’d hang around and wait nearby until someone came by and discovered what I’d left behind. It was a thrill every time.

Monkeyshines medallion illustrated and printed by Chandler O'Leary

I saved this pictured for last because it echoes this year’s odyssey, when my chance finally came. Fast forward to this morning, and it’s the Year of the Monkey all over again. Since it’s now become a tradition as ingrained as Christmas, there was no question that I’d resume the hunt. A friend came to pick me up at 4:30 am, and after a quick swig of coffee, we set out.

Monkeyshines photo by Chandler O'Leary

And in less than an hour, in my eighth year of searching, I finally found my first glass Monkeyshine! Just like the previous picture, it was in the mouth of a fish sculpture—this one in the middle of a fountain downtown. Luckily for me, there was only about an inch of water in the fountain, so all I had to do was climb in and step right up. And yes, if the fountain had been full of water, I would have gone in anyway, 35-degree weather be darned. I wouldn’t have been the only one—tales of people braving murky koi ponds and polar-plunging into the Bay have become the stuff of legend around here. For some things it’s worth getting soaked and dirty!

My friend is still searching for his Monkeyshine—we spent the rest of the morning hunting on his behalf, but even if he doesn’t find one this year, we made sure to pay it forward by hiding a few small monkey-themed treasures ourselves.

Monkeyshines photo by Chandler O'Leary

So now I’m back home, refreshed after a nap and a hot cuppa tea, admiring the Monkeyshine that’s serendipitously in my favorite color. SO many thanks to Ms. Monkey, all her fellow ‘Shiners, all the friends and friendly strangers I hunted with this morning, and my art-loving city. Thank you for making this happen year after year, for making my year so far, and for bringing us all together for a chance to play explorer in our own hometown. Gung hay fat choy!

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…and to all a good night

Christmas photo by Chandler O'Leary

Tacoma photo by Chandler O'LearyChristmas photo by Chandler O'LearyTacoma photo by Chandler O'LearyChristmas photo by Chandler O'LearyChristmas photo by Chandler O'LearyChristmas photo by Chandler O'Leary

Shooting grainy on-the-fly night photos doesn’t always yield the best results, but it’s done a great job of documenting this year’s Season of Light. I hope yours is as warm and bright as ours has been, and that you are surrounded by joy while the sun makes its way back to us.

Good Yule, and Merry Christmas.

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The door’s open

Studio Tour photo and New York state illustration by Chandler O'Leary

It’s hard to believe this much time has gone by already, but Tacoma Arts Month is here again, and that means that Studio Tour is this weekend! I’m all settled into my new space (don’t go to the old house by mistake!)—won’t you help me christen it? I’m planning on doing a big blog reveal of the new studio soon, but I thought I’d let local folks be the first to see it (and the first to meet my ORANGE CHAIR, about which I am ridiculously excited).

As usual, I’ll be open both days. You’ll be able to make your own die-cut greeting card, stamp your Studio Tour Passport (that’s a new feature this year, with prize drawings for folks who visit at least 8 studios!), and of course shop for original artwork and stationery. Our street is under construction at the moment, but don’t let that stop you—there’s plenty of parking just up the hill, and the sidewalk is wide open and pedestrian-friendly. Here’s the info:

14th Annual Tacoma Studio Tours
Saturday and Sunday, October 17 and 18, 2015
11 am to 5 pm, free!
(My studio is #12 on the tour)
More info, locations and maps available here

See you this weekend!

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Seven for seven

Orcas Island sketch by Chandler O'Leary

I can hardly believe it, but I’ve now lived in the Pacific Northwest for seven years.

Mt. Rainier sketch by Chandler O'Leary

In that time I’ve done my very best to see as much of the region as possible, and document it all in my sketchbook.

Yakima apples sketch by Chandler O'Leary

So in honor of seven years, here are seven sketchbook drawings—

Seattle houseboat sketch by Chandler O'Leary

—presented in no particular order—

Columbia River sketch by Chandler O'Leary

—of some of my very favorte places

Panama Hotel sketch by Chandler O'Leary

and moments

Tacoma sketch by Chandler O'Leary

in the place I now call home.

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Midsummer sights

Rainier cherries photo by Chandler O'Leary

For the first time in anybody’s memory around here, the height of the season has actually arrived by the time the official solstice declared it “summer.” And as if on cue, it’s summer around our house, too.

Ourdoor brick grill photo by Chandler O'Leary

So it seemed fitting to take a break from the more pressing repairs on our new house and focus on rehabilitating the vintage 1950s brick grill in the back yard. The Tailor’s parents were here over the solstice, and he and his dad got the grill back into shipshape—and then re-christened it with some seriously good kabobs over the charcoal from some fragrant cedar logs.

Deer photo by Chandler O'Leary

And we’re not the only ones celebrating summer at our house: this gal has been a regular visitor all month (she’s helping us prune back our shrubs…and pilfering a few apples as payment). When we stepped out back to hang some laundry outdoors, though, we were startled to find her napping in the shade back there. She watched us put the sheets up on the line, and waited patiently for me to grab my camera.

I suspect she’ll demand some more apples from us pushovers after this—ah, well. We can put up garden fences next year—and buy our apples for this year’s canning.

Happy summer!