Palouse paletteEastern Washington state

Palouse sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Every once in a while, I don’t even bother starting with a line drawing, and just go straight to watercolor instead. On this day, the dust being kicked up by tractors had obliterated much of the definition of objects in the scene. The result was a landscape distilled down to blocks of pure color, like a patchwork quilt.

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Morning mistTacoma, WA

Port of Tacoma sketch by Chandler O'Leary

On this morning, my city felt like a stage set of paper cut-outs. I just about killed this sketchbook dead by working and reworking the flimsy paper for this drawing—but even as the paper threatened to give out on me, I found myself wanting to add more and more layers. Capturing reality accurately proved elusive that day, but when I look at this page now, I remember the moment with perfect clarity.

Which, I suppose, is the reason I do this stuff in the first place…

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Quick n’ dirtyColumbia River, WA

Columbia River sketch by Chandler O'Leary

And then there are sketches where I don’t have the luxury of time. I did this sketch from a (however slowly) moving train, so I frantically blocked out the drawing in pen, and then approximated the color based on whatever was currently passing by my window. It’s maybe not the most precise or accurate way to work, but it gets the job done in a pinch.

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Lone wandererBig Sur, CA

Big Sur sketch by Chandler O'Leary

I just got back from two and a half weeks of wandering in California—and by the time you read this, I’ll be on the road again, after just a few hours at home. The pre-trip scramble is never the most fun part of traveling, but I know that the trip ahead will have plenty of quiet moments like the one above.

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Tea for two hundredVictoria, BC, Canada

Victoria, BC sketch by Chandler O'Leary

I don’t know if it’s the shape I’m attracted to, or merely the fact that I drink a ridiculous amount of tea every day, but I’m beginning to realize that within my pile of sketches I have quite a collection of teapots. So here for your viewing pleasure…is a collection of teapots.

It seems appropriate to drink Chinese tea at the start of the lunar new year—so imagine me raising my cup to you, in wishing you a happy weekend.

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Sealed with a kissSan Simeon, CA

Elephant seals sketch by Chandler O'Leary

I’ve never done Highway One in the summer, so I’ve never seen it the way most people do—choked with tourists and traffic. I prefer to see the coast highway in the winter, where the only teeming hordes to contend with are those of the pinniped variety.

Elephant seals sketch by Chandler O'Leary

The elephant seal breeding ground on the Big Sur coast is worth pretty much any detour at this time of year. Be warned, though: don’t have too many other things on your agenda that day. Because you’re going to be so fascinated (and a little freaked out) by the spectacle before you that you’re going to want to throw your plans out the window and stay all day.

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Study in blue-greySan Francisco, CA

San Francisco sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Today is the last day of CODEX, after which I’ll be hitting the road again for points south. This evening, though, I’m looking forward to a few hours of downtime in the city with friends. It’s easy to forget in a bustling place like San Francisco, but there are plenty of quiet pockets to sit and let the world around you slow down for a moment.

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