Of man camps and mass destructionWatford City, ND

North Dakota oil fields sketch by Chandler O'Leary

I always embark on road trips with the expectation that I’m going to delight in what I see along the way. Mostly that’s the case—I’m interested in just about everything, and the road is always full of pleasant surprises. But while this blog mostly has been a collection of things I love, I also sketch things that disturb and anger me.

I did this drawing in complete haste, in pencil and super-quick watercolor, from the passenger seat of a moving car. It’s a sketch of the oil fields in western North Dakota—and it’s the only image I managed to get of them on that trip. There were a lot of people around, and I didn’t feel comfortable stopping to take photos of what I saw. So this image is all there is of that afternoon—yet because of this drawing, my memories of that day are so strong that even nearly four years later, I haven’t been able to shake them.

The majority of my sketchbook drawings just stay sketchbook drawings—they’re “finished” in their own right, and the sketchbook is as far as the image goes. Sometimes, though, a sketch might become the basis for a fine-art project—and that’s the case with this image. Well, the project in question is finished, and on display over at my studio blog—if you’re curious, feel free to head over and take a gander.

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