I’m sure you would agree that a day started with breakfast at a quaint little bistro is going to be a good day. The same is true even in the heart of Texas, where we found the perfect little patio at Blue Dahlia Bistro.
The back patio at the East Austin location is unbelievably enchanting. Under a wooden canopy draped in greenery, it feels a little bit like a secret garden… which just happens to have tables and chairs and servers. Though it was a cloudy day when we went, it still felt a bit magical. In a place as beautiful as that, it almost doesn’t even matter what they serve me.
Our table’s order was varied; frittata, crepes, waffles, charcuterie, oatmeal. All the traditional fixins of a wonderful breakfast spread. The photos, as you can see are ridiculous. Everything looked picture-perfect.
I stumbled upon Chandler O’Leary’s Drawn The Road Again travel blog thanks to one of my favorite daily reads, HonestlyWTF. As Chandler journeys from coast to coast, her memories transform into pen, ink, and watercolor onto the pages of her many moleskin notebooks. In drawing these experiences, she honors their temporal beauty more than she ever could with just a mere photograph. The simplicity of this act is a pure revelation; paying homage through expressive representation is a tradition that goes back to the origin of art itself. With new media flying around every day, we often forget how meaningful these artistic forms can be. They serve as a relic of the cultural and physical landscape we so take for granted. They remind us that in order to cultivate and preserve memories, we must pause, absorb, and reflect. This obviously comes second nature to Chandler, but her choice to share this passionate diary is as courageous as it is generous. She invites us into her personal history and her marks guide us through a romantic look at places and things we may have never noticed on our own. I’m so thankful that she took time out of her busy travels to connect with me and I hope you feel as enlightened as I do by her sincerity and dedication to her craft.
Describe what your work is about in one sentence.
I document my life and travels via sketchbook drawings, in order to create a record of where I’ve been and what I’ve experienced.
What’s your favorite object to draw?
Lettering. I’m a fiend for type (I’m a lettering artist in my “normal” professional work), so I’m always on the lookout for found typography, hand-lettered signs, vintage neon and street lettering. There’s a treasure trove of beautiful lettering out in the world, and some of the best stuff was done by people who were never trained as an artist or designer.
When my family comes to visit me, they usually take me to places I would have never gone myself. One of these places is Helen, Georgia. In an effort to see some natural beauty, we set out on a short road trip and found ourselves meeting the Blue Ridge Mountains of North GA. Here, just a couple hours from Atlanta, is where you’ll find Anna Ruby Falls – a humble yet still gorgeous spot in the Chattahoochee National Forest. The actual trek to see the falls is really easy so it’s a bit more fitting for a leisurely afternoon stroll rather than a true forest hike.
Just as interesting as the waterfall were all the quirky country shops speckled throughout the town of Helen. The architecture of the main street is meant to be a re-creation of historical German alpine villages (I tried to take pictures but they all looked hella boring), but it ends up being sort of like a second-rate Epcot scene. While it feels a bit lame, there’s something that’s also weirdly charming about it all.
A Georgia road trip just isn’t complete without a stop for boiled peanuts and tchotchke-browsing. Although it seems like my family and I never actually manage to eat all the peanuts we buy for ourselves.
….Oh, also gem stones. Yes, I said GEM STONES. Are they real? Maybe. Are they pretty? Definitely. I didn’t purchase any because I have no earthly idea of what I would do with them. So I thought I should at least take some pretty pictures.