Okey-dokey, artichokeyTacoma, WA

Artichokes sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Now, I know these might not exactly be roses by another name, but I didn’t have to travel far or wide to see them: these artichokes are my favorite thing in my next-door neighbor’s garden.

Artichokes sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Turns out she grows them as ornamentals, as she’s not a big fan of eating them. So thanks to her, I got to see them bloom for the first time.

Now, just about the only thing that would make those next-door artichokes better is if they were fifteen feet tall…. Just sayin’.

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Coming up rosesPortland, OR

Portland Rose Garden sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Drawing super-complex things like rose gardens always breaks my brain a little. I start out with good intentions, attracted by the detail in every petal and the stunning colors of all the rose varieties. But every time I look down at my page and back up again, I lose track of where I was. Then I kind of throw up my hands, and suddenly everything becomes a mess of color blotches. But that’s okay—because when I go and look at the sketch later, my memory of actually standing among all those real roses is crystal clear.

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Kook mosaicPenland, NC

Ceramic-mosaic garden wall sketch by Chandler O'Leary

This is what happens when you let a bunch of artists build a garden wall. Somehow, I doubt this is something you’d see on HGTV, but it definitely confirms that these are my kinda people.

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Guiding LightGateway National Recreation Area, Sandy Hook, NJ

Sandy Hook lighthouse sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Okay, so the title of this post is not an accident. Apparently this lighthouse actually was a guiding light—on the soap opera of the same name, that is. But I’ll have to take Wikipedia’s word for that one, because vintage soap operas aren’t really my cup of tea.

Sandy Hook lighthouse sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Vintage lighthouses, on the other hand, are exactly my cup of tea.

Sandy Hook lighthouse sketch by Chandler O'Leary

And when I found out I was standing inside the oldest working beacon in America? Well, I paid extra close attention.

Sandy Hook lighthouse sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Sandy Hook Light celebrated its 250th anniversary this weekend. I couldn’t be there for the festivities, but the Tailor and I spent a day at Sandy Hook a few years ago, and I did these sketches then. It was a flawless summer day—not the kind of weather you need a lighthouse for, but certainly the conditions that would show off its best features.

Sandy Hook lighthouse sketch by Chandler O'Leary

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Big towSeattle, WA

"Toe Truck" sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Seattle is one of the most tow-happy cities I’ve ever encountered. If you’ve ever tried to decipher the convoluted weekday parking rules downtown here (where signs say things like, oh, I dunno, “2-hour parking except third Wednesdays in months with an “R” in them, between 3 and 6 pm, and then only if driver is wearing red hat and matching lipstick”), you’ll know what I’m talking about.

But you know, if I ever got towed by a tow truck with actual toes on it…I might be a little more forgiving.

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Front Range from the front seatBetween Colorado Springs and Denver, CO

Colorado Front Range sketch by Chandler O'Leary

There are some roads I have traveled so often that I have permanently etched into my memory every landmark, every sign, every single geographical feature along the way. The seventy miles between Colorado Springs and Denver is one of those stretches. When I was a kid, I knew exactly how far we were from our destination by which butte we passed; the profiles of every mountain in every season; and which hill was next to appear on the horizon. Every time I go back, no matter how much farmland has been converted into brand new suburbs, the mountains never change—and my mental map gets retraced with the same lines. On this day, I sketched while the Tailor drove, but I just as easily could have done this from memory—laying out every hill and peak along the route on one long, continuous sheet of paper.

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