A couple things guaranteed to get me stoked are travel and art that I can connect with. When the two are combined, I become damn near giddy with enthusiasm. Recently this site called Drawn the Road Again was brought to my attention (I honestly don’t remember where or how). It’s the ongoing project of an artist named Chandler O’Leary, and the site, combined with her Instagram feed, has become one of my favorite things on the internet. Here’s the story from her website:
My name is Chandler O’Leary. I live in Washington state with my lovely husband (whom I refer to as “the Tailor” because he makes his own clothes and wishes to remain anonymous) and our tiny stick-shift Subaru sedan. We both love to travel, but I’m the real nut in the family. For one thing, I have lived all over the U.S. and even in Italy—so the urge to wander is deeply ingrained. And I am the one who will choose the squiggliest line on the map, rather than the Interstate highway, every single time. I am the one who gets excited about driving 200 miles out of my way to see a giant concrete prairie dog. I am the one who will add an extra day to our trip to make sure we have enough time to spend at Wall Drug. I also have a thing for jackalopes, I brake for any coffee-pot-shaped building, and I have a bright yellow hat shaped like cartoon Swiss cheese.
I’ve been recording my travels in my sketchbooks for years and years now. One day I realized I had literally hundreds of drawings hidden away, and only a few close friends had ever seen them all. I run a small business as an illustrator and lettering artist, so it’s not like I don’t have a creative outlet. But somehow my travel sketches just didn’t…fit…with the story I had been weaving through my other work. So thanks to some gentle prodding from my friend Mary-Alice, I finally decided it was time to start the next chapter.
I can’t express how much I love her work, which may come as a surprise considering Chandler’s style isn’t exactly Frazetta-esque. I have always imagined myself as becoming a sketch artist, and her work inspires me to want to apply myself to it anew. What I love best about it is how she captures simple moments with her paints, and the places she passes, similar to how I, and so may other people, have taken to using our cell phones and cameras to do the same. Only Chandler’s style is so unique . . . I really love it. I imagine this kind of sketching and painting must connect her to the image in the same way that writing stories and things longhand in a notebook somehow feels like it connects me more directly to the process of making images with words. That might sound like mumbo jumbo, but it does have a different feel from just always clattering stuff out on a keyboard.
I also love Chandler’s enthusiasm for the road. The detours to weird little spots. The willingness to drive a few hours out of the way on a spontaneous whim. That kind of enthusiasm for the open road, art, and for life in general, gets me every time. I’m glad there are people like this out in the world.
Chandler O’Leary isn’t someone I’ve ever met or corresponded with, but I’d like to someday. I’m a big fan. I hope people reading this check out her work.