Still life with skylineLake Union houseboat district, Seattle, WA

Seattle houseboat sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Last week I was invited to come and sketch the view from one of Seattle’s famous houseboats (best perk of what I do: being invited to sketch interesting, hidden things!). Unlike the biannual houseboat tour, where there’s barely time to jot down a few chicken scratches on the spot before it’s time to move on (I have to finish those sketches after the fact), this time I had all the time in the world to spread out, choose my vantage point, and luxuriate in finishing the drawing then and there.

Since the houseboat was the kind of place that made me want to just plop down and stay forever, the gift of time was even more wonderful than being presented with that stellar view.

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Plastered with pumpkinsMahone Bay, NS, Canada

Nova Scotia sketch by Chandler O'Leary

I can never seem to get enough of this season—I love being surrounded by my favorite color, my favorite weather, my favorite flavors. I’m glad there are places like this this little bakery in Nova Scotia, where you can go have a cup of tea surrounded by reminders of autumn in every direction. Otherwise, I’d probably end up going nuts with the fall decorating at home, and ending up buried alive in decorative gourds.

I probably should have done with it and just go live in a pumpkin patch.

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A room with a viewTacoma, WA

Tacoma sketch by Chandler O'Leary

The Tailor and I haven’t done a whole lot of traveling this year, because we’ve spent most of our time since January searching for and finally buying our first home. After what has seemed like an eternity (though it has actually been a lightning-fast whirlwind!), we finally moved in a week ago. Now we’re surrounded by boxes to unpack, historic tidbits to tend and restore, and a million little things to fix. But it doesn’t matter, because being able to sketch this scene out my windows anytime I wish makes me happier than I can say.

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Serves four (hundred)Long Beach, WA and Seaside, OR

Giant Frying Pan sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Well, I can’t feature the Winlock Egg without giving you something to cook it in, can I? Just over the coast range from Winlock is the town of Long Beach, home of the perfect roadside companion to the World’s Largest Egg.

Since it’s not exactly as flamboyant as, say, a giant orange, people often blow right by this one without even noticing it. But this giant frying pan is much more than just a monument. It’s a replica of a real, no-kidding, fourteen-foot pan that was actually used to cook food. For many years this frying pan was a permanent fixture of Long Beach’s annual Razor Clam Festival—where chefs actually used it for the clam fritter cook-off. I don’t know about you, but that fact alone raises this humble giant right to the top of my personal list of favorite roadside attractions.

Giant Frying Pan sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Speaking of which, my roadside attractions gallery exhibit is closing tomorrow (Washington folks, hurry!), so today is the last post about roadside giants—for a little while, at least. Next week I’ll be back with a different topic and a broader range of sketches. But I hope you’ve had as much fun as I have these past few weeks—because as you can probably guess, there’s a lot more where this came from.

Happy weekend—see you on Monday.

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Two-ton tater totO'Leary, PEI, Canada

Giant Potato sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Oh, the fates were cruel to me this day. I happened to pass through a town that shared my last name, and in that town I stumbled upon a giant fiberglass potato. In front of a potato museum.

Which had closed an hour before.

Now, really. That’s just not fair.

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Tuxedo twinsCut Bank, MT and Chehalis, WA

Cut Bank Penguin sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Bless their hearts, these birds aren’t quite so elegant as the Topeka Wren, but that’s no reason not to stand proud and proclaim their purpose.

Actually, even that is a little muddled here. Maybe Cut Bank really is the coldest spot in the nation… just don’t tell International Falls, MN. Or, you know, the entire state of Alaska.

Yard Bird sketch by Chandler O'Leary

And Washington’s famous Yard Birds store? Well, it’s defunct. But that’s okay—the 60-foot namesake (12th bird?) is alive and well, and standing for something, at the very least.

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Wild goose chaseWawa, ON, Canada

Wawa Goose sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Wawa is the Ojibwe word for “wild goose”—a fact the town of Wawa, Ontario would prefer you didn’t forget.

Wawa Goose sketch by Chandler O'Leary

And just to make sure the lesson hits home, there is a veritable flock of giant geese waiting to welcome you.

Wawa Goose sketch by Chandler O'Leary

I just hope these guys don’t get the notion to fly south for the winter—then we’ll be in trouble.

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Wrented wingsTopeka, KS

Topeka Wren sketch by Chandler O'Leary

I’m always up for the hokey and awkward when it comes to roadside attractions, but every now and again you find a true masterpiece.

Case in point: the Topeka Wren (formerly the mascot for WREN radio in Lawrence, KS) nearly took my breath away. This bird is a couple decades older than your average roadside statue, so that may explain the difference in style. But what I love is how true to form the sculpture is. The sweeping bill and tail defy the parameters of what concrete can achieve, and the pose is incredibly lifelike.

I know, I know—it’s completely nuts to wax poetic about giant concrete birds. But if roadside sculptures were oil paintings (which is a comparison I often make, heaven help me!), I’m pretty sure this is the one DaVinci would have created.

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