Tag Archives: Oregon

Mt. Rainier National Park sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Our best idea

Mt. Rainier National Park, WA

Tomorrow is the 100th birthday of the National Park Service. All of America seems to be celebrating right now, and rightly so. In my opinion, our wildest pockets are our true national treasures, and our national parks, as Wallace Stegner said, our best idea.

Olympic National Park sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Olympic National Park, WA

So since I’ve spent a good chunk of my sketching life in national parks both close to home…

Arches National Park sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Arches National Park, UT

…and far afield…

Crater Lake National Park sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Crater Lake National Park, OR

I figured I’d add my voice to the celebratory din, in the form of a little sketchbook retrospective.

Badlands National Park sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Badlands National Park, SD

Beyond the centennial itself, I’m always up for toasting the parks. Not only do I think park rangers are the best people on earth,

Redwood National Park sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Redwood National Park, CA

but I also sometimes think they’re the only thing standing between wildness and destruction.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Carlsbad Caverns National Park, NM

And anyway, I’m not exaggerating when I say I’m a total park nut myself. It’s my goal to visit every NPS property before I die, including national parks, historic sites, national monuments, everything. (Actually, I’ve crossed a goodly chunk of them off the list already—

Guadalupe Mountains National Park sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Guadalupe Mountains National Park, TX

—and I even have the stamps to prove it.)

Olympic National Park sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Olympic National Park, WA

I know I have a long path ahead of me before I reach that goal,

Grand Canyon National Park sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Grand Canyon National Park, AZ

and getting there won’t be easy.

Big Bend National Park sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Big Bend National Park, TX

Yet I can’t tell you how grateful I am that the opportunity exists in the first place—

Rocky Mountain National Park sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

that so many people have fought to preserve these wild places, and won.

Saguaro National Park sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Saguaro National Park, AZ

Best of all is the feeling that no matter how long it might take me to get to each park with my sketchbook,

Glacier National Park sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Glacier National Park, MT

I know it’ll be there waiting for me, as close to unchanged as humanly possible. Thanks to the National Park Service, the window of opportunity remains open.








Prehistoric Gardens dinosaurs sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Jurassic forest

Speaking of incongruous dinosaurs, if you ever find yourself traveling up Highway 101 along the Oregon coast, you might be surprised to see a brachiosaurus head poking up through the trees. Just like the Columbia River Gorge, the Oregon rainforest isn’t a place you’ll ever find actual dinosaur fossils. Still, there’s something about the misty hillsides and impossibly tall trees that make it easy to imagine yourself standing in a primordial place.

Covered bridge sketch by Chandler O'Leary

New England transplant

You wouldn’t normally think of the Pacific Northwest as covered bridge country, but we do have a few here. Southern Oregon is home to a real beauty, and the last covered bridge still standing along old Highway 99. Of course, the rainy Northwest weather and towering conifers gave it away, but otherwise, the place made me feel like I was standing in a Vermont mountain glen.

Ladd's Addition map sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Residential roses

June is the month of roses in the Pacific Northwest, and there’s no better place to see roses than the City of Roses. And there’s no better rose garden in the City of Roses than the diamond gardens in Ladd’s Addition. So in honor of my favorite Portland neighborhood, here are two midsummer sketches, done exactly three years apart.

Ladd’s Addition was the first planned residential development in the state of Oregon. Conceived in 1891 and mostly built between 1905 and 1930, the area is now a national historic district. In deliberate contravention of the city grid, the neighborhood is laid out in an “X” pattern with a circle park and rotary in the center. Where each diagonal street intersects one other at points north, south, east and west of the circle, there’s a small diamond-shaped garden that’s home to one of Portland’s many rose test gardens. And along every tree-lined and tree-named (though some have been rechristened in modern times; the map above shows their original names) street are many dozens of historic homes—many of which are unique or unusual examples of Craftsman-, Tudor- and Mission-style architecture.

Ladd's Addition rose garden sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Every part of this neighborhood is appealing to me—I’m a sucker for a good map, a Craftsman house and a pale peach rose. Put them all together, with a shady spot for me to sit and sketch, and I’m instantly in heaven.

Old Clatsop County Jail sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Goonie weekend

I’m a bit of a movie nut—especially for anything shot on location. I’m a sucker for films that center around real places—and Astoria, OR has featured prominently in so many movies that the entire town has become a cinema icon. This Sunday marks the 30th anniversary of the release of the 1980s free-range-kid classic, The Goonies, so I thought I’d celebrate by posting my Goonie sketches from a few years ago.

First up is the most well-known location in town, and the one that’s easiest to find: the old Clatsop County Jail from the hilarious jailbreak scene. This building is so iconic that it’s now home to a museum centered around the movies filmed in Oregon.

Goonies house sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Next up is Mikey and Brand’s house (with a glimpse of Data’s place next door). This house looks almost exactly the same as it does in the film—at least from what I could see below. I have a feeling the current owners put up with a lot of well-meaning trespassing from Goonies fans, so I wanted to be respectful of their property and stay on the sidewalk below. Oh, and incidentally, this house is literally around the corner from the school featured prominently in Kindergarten Cop (yes, I’ve sketched that, too—that’s a post for another day).

Cannon Beach sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Finally, no Goonies pilgrimage would be complete without a side trip to Ecola State Park, about a half hour south of Astoria. This is the spot where the gangster hideout was, where the kids entered the underground path to pirate treasure. From here you can spy (through the holes in a 1632 Spanish doubloon, of course) Cannon Beach below, and the silhouetted bulk of Haystack Rock—which you might recognize as the seastack that looms above the final scenes in the film.

This weekend Astoria is having a big 30th anniversary celebration, but I won’t be able to get down there for the event. So instead, you can bet the Tailor and I are going to pop up some popcorn, fire up the DVD player, and have ourselves a blast from the past.

Road trip map sketch by Chandler O'Leary

The final tally

If you happen to follow along on Instagram or Facebook, you’ll know I’ve just returned from a 4000+ mile road trip across the south and west of the county. One of the things I like to do at the end of a trip (and the end of my sketchbook) is a map and recap of the journey. Of course, there are lots and lots of sketches of the details along the way (I expect you’ll see lots of those in the coming weeks), but sometimes it’s nice to step back and look at the big picture.

Columbia River Gorge sketch by Chandler O'Leary


What with moving into a new house and juggling a bunch of new studio projects this year, most of my sketching in 2014 was done pretty close to home. I have a feeling 2015 is going to be very different—several road trips are already on the calendar, and I’m making plans for others. Still, I’m glad I had this year to remind me that there’s so much to see in my own back yard.

So I’m raising a virtual toast this New Year’s Eve, to the distant road ahead—and to the garden path leading right back to my own door. There’ll always be room for both.

Cannon Beach sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Powell's City of Books sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Book bonanza

Bookstores are a big part of our annual holiday shopping rounds, and my two most sketch-able favorites are Powell’s in Portland—

Elliott Bay Book Co. sketch by Chandler O'Leary

—and Elliott Bay in Seattle. Of course I’m probably going to love any indie bookstore, but both of these places have such inviting spaces that I could stay and sketch for a year. If I weren’t so distracted by all those zillions of books, that is…