Creative People Being Creative

Screen Shot 2013-10-01 at 9.34.09 PMA 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.

The Right Tool for the Job
The Right Tool for the Job


Author: Chris

Chris La Tray is a writer, a walker, and a photographer. He is an enrolled member of the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians and lives in Missoula, MT.

8 thoughts on “Creative People Being Creative”

  1. Amazing stuff. I’ll have to find the time to take a deeper dive. Great artist, and a great attitude.

    Honestly, it really tears at me how there must be so many people like Chandler out there, but for whom life didn’t provide the right set of circumstances to let them express themselves. I’ve know a fair number of people, many of them old High School friends, whose creativity was just ground out of them by Life.

    Because of that, when I see a person like this, who’s able to do what they love and share it with others, it really does the soul good to experience it with them.

    1. Exactly, Jack. Then there are also plenty of folks who will say, “Oh, I wish I had the time to. . . .” when it’s just that they don’t TAKE the time. If one wants to be creative, sometimes one needs to watch one or two less episodes of whatever TV show one is currently binging on in service to the art, right?

  2. I used to keep journals in which I sketched as well as wrote. It’s amazing how much you actually see with your eyes when you do that, and how those images stay in your memory. Alas, blogging and sketching don’t go together for me.

  3. I must have found her blog via your blog before – isn’t it great? I could spend hours looking through her sketchbooks.
    Cathy Johnson is another sketcher I really like and try to follow online (more nature-oriented instead of travel).

    1. This is the first I’ve mentioned it. Maybe we saw it the same place somewhere else? I’m sure we walk at least a couple similar paths out on the web without even knowing it. I’ll definitely check out your other link as well.

    1. Thanks for the comment! I didn’t even know about her “Dead Feminists” stuff; the only store I saw was a link from her Anagram Press site, and it has the “on vacation” shingle hung. The DF stuff looks great! Thanks for sharing that info, and thanks again for stopping by. I always get a thrill when someone new leaves a comment, heh.

Leave a Reply