Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Elephant in the Room

Another baby step has been achieved! Actually, baby elephant steps. It's a big canvas, so that makes a difference in the shoe size I'm going by. The layout for the painting is done to size - all the characters and writing are in place, I just finished printing out fifteen 8 1/2"x11" drawings and Scotch taping them together like a puzzle to tape onto the 30"x40" canvas. When I showed it to my daughter she gave a happy gasp when she saw it. That's as good as a thumbs up, so I'm on my way to the fun part ---- painting.

 Here it is: Step 3 ..... (click on pic to enlarge)
Background to be added later.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Drawing a Blank

It's 8:15 Saturday morning. I have a "to do" list that trails from my computer to the mailbox - and to make matters worse, underneath that paper trail are deep trenches of quick sand. As I start on my favorite "to do", the earth suddenly pulls me in, slowly.... as if to warn me "Think about what you're about to take on.... is this REALLY a priority???" "I don't know," I ponder, "but my heart is tugging at me to do this particular thing." That's my problem here. You know that saying "If it feels good it must be right"? Well, that's a crock! The truth is "If it feels good your decisions could be vastly tainted."

Bottom line, all I want to do is draw, and the 30"x40" blank canvas standing on its easel is the to do that I'm drawn to (no pun intended). I don't want to take the 17 boxes of Christmas decorations out of storage and bring them into my house. I don't want to clean my house so that I can put up my 8,000 pieces of Christmas paraphernalia. I don't want to work on my website where I have to struggle with learning how to put up a shopping cart so that I can start taking orders. I don't want to organize the paid bills and paperwork that pile up each hour. I don't want to cut my husband's hair that looks like he's homeless cuz I've been putting it off for so long. The truth is I don't want to get dressed. . . I don't even want to brush my hair!
I just want to sit
in my big cozy chair
in my cozy warm robe
with my pencil in hand
and draw the fun characters
that will adorn the blank canvas
that will hang from the wall
that sits against the crib
that my grandbaby sleeps in.

So, that's where I've been, and that's what I've been doing .... and, as promised in my last blog, here are some pencil sketches that I've come up. I can't WAIT to start the painting!!! ........ but I HAVE to until the time is right - after I've trudged through the difficult quick sand and crossed the "to do's" off my list in sequence of relevance instead of instant gratification.
Oops! Gotta go. My husband's calling me. . . barber apron around his neck, comb and scissors in hand, waiting patiently so that he can cross "Have Susie cut my hair" off of HIS list of "to do's"!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Job Interview

Yesterday I was hired for a job. Pay: $0.00. Benefits: Zero. Hours: More hours than I'll be sleeping. Job Title: "Know-It-All-Mom." Job Description: Covering a 30"x40" bare canvas with color, design, and WHIMSY.

Let me back up. Several weeks ago, when my daughter was with child and Googling every website in search of nursery decor, I received an email from her bubbling with enthusiasm. She'd found THE PERFECT picture that she'd been looking and looking for to go on the wall above her baby's crib. Mind you, I always anticipated being the one doing the picture above my grandchild's crib ---- BUT what could I say?!! I couldn't be intrusive - or worse yet, make her feel OBLIGATED! I listened to her as if I couldn't draw a straight line as she went on and on: "Mom, it is ADORABLE!!! I HAVE to have it .... even though it's not in our budget, it's worth every penny! This artist is fantastic -  I can't wait until it arrives!!!"

It arrived. . . and, sure enough there it was... hanging on the wall above my grandchild's crib. I looked and looked at it. "REALLY??!" I thought. "THIS is what she jumped hoops over for?!!" Now the critical artist in me took over, and I couldn't help myself as I pointed out every poorly placed brush stroke and clashing color on this mediocre sized canvas. She finally admitted that she was a bit disappointed when she saw it. Then the competitive artist in me stepped up to the plate as I exclaimed "I could do SUCH a better job!" adding, as I slid to second base, "As a matter of fact, how about I do a picture for you - MUCH bigger, and you can see it as I go?" She agreed -but I'll be honest, I had to sell her on it. The next morning I exited Aaron Bros. with all the tools I'd need: brushes, paint, huge canvas, mixing palette, giant tracing pad, Matte Mod Podge, Glossy Mod Podge .... and sweaty palms. Can I live up to all this???

I did my first character drawing for it this morning, and showed it to my boss. "So, Katy, what do you think?" "It's ADORABLE!!!" she said. Whew! I passed the first inspection. I have a feeling this boss is going to be a tough one. This painting had better be GOOD!!

Stay tuned and wish me luck. I just might put up sketches as I go along. If you don't like them be kind. I'll be walking a fine line with this one. ;o)

P.S. I am soooo excited to get started!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

LEFT - RIGHT- LEFT - RIGHT ... The March of Indecision

Lately I've been waking up extra tired — not from lack of sleep, but from quality of sleep. You know, those dreams where nothing works?! You try to make a phone call and the phone keeps going dead — or you're in a huge hurry to get home and you can't find your neighborhood as you frantically circle around and around? It's no wonder I'd wake up exhausted! It's also no wonder I was having those dreams. I've had a major decision to make, and my brain's left and right sides were wrestling for my attention.

I have two businesses — one creating whimsical pictures for the commercial market, and the other, marketing and promoting products that my daughter Jeana and I have invented,  Two different types of businesses, but both vying for the spotlight and a huge chunk of my time. Some people are great at multitasking. I'm not. So, for the past year I've put my energy wholeheartedly into that right side - doing illustration work, recreating my website, gliding along in a nice flow of direction with a business plan in mind. Then along came baby.... grandbaby, I should say, and in stepped those left brain cells, tapping for more attention and distracting me from all that great creative focus!

My younger daughter, Katy, was the driving force. Being in new-mommy mode she's been struggling with all the questions that come with the territory: How do I get my newborn to sleep for more than 8 minutes at a time? Should I let her cry it out? What are the very best baby products in terms of safety and convenience? She's been Barbara Walters on the loose — asking questions of anyone that answers to "Mom"! And I've been observing her as she's been handling those struggles of inexperience.

How does this have anything to do with this writing? I watched Katy as she used one of our products, the Stay-dry Bath Apron & Towel, and I witnessed with fresh eyes exactly why I'd interrupted my illustration career those few years ago to help design and market this product. Here was my daughter, wearing the Stay-dry Bath Apron that I'd given her with my tiny granddaughter wrapped cozily inside. I watched as she effortlessly transferred Delaney (aka:Laney-loo) from this warm wrap into the bath water - and back into her arms again with the ease that it was designed for. It all ran so smoothly. I looked at Katy and proclaimed,"All new moms should have one of these!" She strongly agreed. It was originally designed to keep mom from getting soaked - which of course it does, but what really stood out in both my daughter's and my mind at this time was its safety feature. Because it's hands-free there's little possibility of losing one's grip with slippery, flailing baby at lift-out time. Normally, without the bath apron, it's a struggle to get baby covered. A loose towel is tucked under mom's chin or over her shoulder, and it's awkward, to say the least, to get everything going at the same time! The baby starts crying from the chill while mom nervously fumbles around to get her covered. An accident waiting to happen.

So, here I was, passionately wanting to get the word out once again about this must- have baby product, yet on a roll with my illustration work. Knowing I couldn't do both, I tossed and turned for an answer. (Enter, the first paragraph to this blog.) Voila! After a good amount of research, the answer came to me.

Which side won? Stay tuned — be watching for news this fall :o). Until then, the Stay-dry is available in a variety of online stores:,,, and (also in their stores) to name a few. To see a video of the original white Stay-dry in use click here. (New colors have since been added: citrus green, pink, and soft blue.)

Now — back to the right side. Ahhhh.... it's so nice to have a good night's sleep for a change!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Big Picture

These last few weeks I've suffered from what I categorize as the "To-do Overload Syndrome".  Lots to do on my "have-to-do" list with little to no time to do it. So far my clocks have refused to slow down to my pace!
First and foremost, as I've clearly announced, I have a brand new grandbaby. One who lives close-by--- with a mom who is brand new to her "mommy/protector/I-am-everything-to-you" role --- who I'm very close to --- and who could use my help. So, I give the best support that I can. I devote my early mornings to calming them both down, holding, rocking (the baby, not the daughter), discovering THE answers to how it all needs to be done  - only to find out that I know NOTHING! The fact is all of my great words of wisdom go down the drain the second I call out my "you should do this" bragging rights.  My new little grandbaby does the opposite of what I strongly predict she will do if only her mother would take heed to my advice!

After I've finished proving how much I don't know about how to calm a baby, or how to insure my daughter and son-in-law a good night's rest,  I come home to my house of quiet . . . head down from my motherly-advice-failures; Back to my life at the computer to be productive - To my life at the drawing board to create - To the ga-jillioneth interruption that keeps me unfocused from all the work that I've set out to get done - To the sun that is setting as a reminder of how quickly the day has passed with zero accomplishments on my part. I am now filled with the "A" word: Anxiety. . . . . . big time!

What to do? The question that plagues me! Well, tonight I made a conscious decision to do what I never do.... that we all need to do at times like these. I decided to do NOTHING. To make no decisions. To not even glance at a business book --- and to stay a mile away from my demanding computer. I pulled up a lounge chair on my deck, grabbed a magazine from the stack that I never take the time to read,  poured myself a chilled glass of wine, lit Citronella candles, and smelled the freshly mowed grass before me. I was in HEAVEN. Being in a cabana in Tahiti wouldn't have felt any better. The trees were still, the sky was tranquil, my overactive mind was on "pause", and my emotions were soooo at peace with one another. Wow! Why don't I do this more often??? (The one thought I allowed myself to think).

Tomorrow morning I'll be ready to tackle my to do list with less crowding. My creative juices will be fresh, and I won't even try to have all the answers for my new-mom daughter. Letting go of all the intricate puzzle pieces that make up one's day - if even for an hour - is revitalizing. Taking the time to actually see the simple beauty around us is blissful. Bottom line, it's taking in the big picture of life that puts our to do list in perspective and gives us the freedom to move forward more effectively in our accomplishments.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

If You Can Say Something Nice - Say It!

Last week I went with my daughter and friends to P.F. Changs for dinner. As usual, the food was over-the-top and the company delightful — but to top off the over the top evening was none other than James, our server. He was the BEST!! Not only did his face light up the room with his deeply dimpled smile, but he was on target for what we didn't even know we needed throughout the evening!
Each one of us was REALLY impressed! So impressed that I called the manager over to our table as we were about to leave. She came over looking a bit glum - the "Uh oh, what'd we do wrong?!" kind of look. When we enthusiastically told her of this guy's virtues as a server, she was thrilled. "He's up for Manager, so it'd be great if you sent these compliments on to Corporate." We took her card showing the email address and left.

I couldn't wait to give this server, James, the kudos he so much deserved! I mean, it's a BIG thing - acknowledgment. How many people are taken for granted? How many don't realize the effect they've had on someone after performing an act of kindness or by taking that EXTRA step to do a great job at whatever it is they do? So, I wrote an email to Corporate, who will forward it on to James, who will wear that dimpled smile when he reads it, and may even be promoted to Manager because of it.
Maybe it's the artist in me. . . being my own worst critic. Erasing, redrawing, erasing, redrawing - until it's right. . . or at least until I think it's right! It's a vulnerable job, being an artist.
Well, guess what? The same morning that I sent that complimentary email, I by chance came across a website blog that was written unbeknownst to me. It's title:

A little bit of inspiration goes along way...

Posted by Emma Measures on Thursday, November 19, 2009
I really like the work by Susan Drawbaugh...

especially this mouse, i think they work really well and love the colours, the simple designs but somehow they seem to have a great amount of detail. i like the use of tones and shades which really bring the characters to life. I'm a child at heart and i love these kind of images.
     Yes. . . This blog brought a big smile to my face. How nice to know my work has inspired someone - I had no idea. Acknowledgment is the best!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Away from the Norm

The last few months I've been offered jobs that are completely out of the box for me. One was for a corporate event invitation & logo, the other was for a Power Point sales presentation of a new product, and the last a poster announcing an upcoming musical event at the Courthouse Square in Prescott, AZ. Bottom line: CHALLENGES, CHALLENGES, CHALLENGES! 

I have to admit, I was quite intimidated when I first began working on each of these jobs. After all, I'm supposed to be funny - or at least whimsical with my work! None of these asked this of me. I had to put on my SERIOUS hat... my Graphic Artist hat....which hasn't been worn enough lately to fit comfortably. I nearly always take on a new challenge, because, for some reason, I'm of the mindset that if someone else can do it, why not I? So I start thinking outside the box, thrive on Google research, and doodle ideas all over the place... using my eraser a LOT! This is a good thing. By the time I'm finished with each assignment I'm feeling so accomplished - like I just passed a crazy hard test! I've now used computer programs like Illustrator, and Indesign, and Photoshop like I'd never used them before! I won't say that I didn't speak to my computer in a very loud, frustrated voice throughout the process, but in the end, I felt really good.... sort of like putting together a complicated meal that takes all day of cooking & figuring out the recipes! Once I got a taste of the work, it was delicious - and I can say I could do that! with a "pat pat pat" on the back. :o)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Getting Personal

Three days have gone by since I posted my last blog... funny how quickly time passes when you're staring at a newborn baby's face for hours at a time! While at Laney's house (I no longer refer to it as "my daughter and son-in-law's house") my step-granddaughter, Katie,and I had a little chat. I hate the word "Step"- it sounds so "Mommie Dearest"! Anyway, we talked about how she needs to stop calling me by my first name. After all, her baby sister won't be calling me Susie - so why should she?? So, we agreed that from now on I will be "Mammy" to her - the name my first grandson gave me, and the name I'm called by his brothers, cousins and friends. We hugged on our new decision, and I'm feeling more and more like her Mammy each day. It doesn't hurt that she loves to draw! .... and she's quite good at it. I play a special role with each of my grandkids - cook with one, play piano with the other, and play ball with the two year old. I've decided that she will be my Art buddy - and when we're together I'll teach her how to draw. Hmmmm ... then maybe when little Laney grows up a bit we'll dance together ... or collect bugs ... or maybe those tiny little hands with the very long fingers will want to play the guitar? My guitar's been standing in the closet with a broken string for years - it's time it got some use! Meanwhile, I thought I'd post the picture that I did of Katie after we were introduced by the man who would become my son-in-law. She was just learning how to jump rope, and with all the sparkles that she loves to decorate herself with I had a GREAT time working on it - a few pearls here, some rhinestones there - I had a hard time stopping myself with the jewels - but she loved it.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

A Brand New Inspiration

On Friday, July 9th, I saw Creativity at its peak! My younger daughter, Katy, gave birth to her first child and our first granddaughter, Delaney East Harris - Laney for short. Coincidentally, Laney is the name I'd planned to give my Katy when I was pregnant those many years ago, but husbands do have their say! The East part of the name is especially meaningful to me. It was my precious great grandfather's last name, my mother's middle name, and handed down to me as my middle name. It was also part of the signature I'd written at the bottom of all my masterpiece pictures for so many years before going commercial: SusanEast. Not having had a lot of time to do my own creating this past week, I did get to sit down and draw one very special piece. Katy has an adorable 7 year old stepdaughter, also named Katie - who's been an only child until now. I'd made a picture for her bedroom of her jump roping after she and I first met. She appreciated it so much that I decided to make a special Big Sister t-shirt for her to wear during that first introduction to her new little sis'. Katie already has her own dress-style - SPARKLES wherever she can wear them - so, for both pictures, I went to town gluing on rhinestones and pearls! Friday afternoon, when she first walked into the hospital room beaming with excitement, I presented her with the shirt. I'm not sure what sparkled more - the rhinestones or her beautiful smile! It's definitely times like these that being an artist feels most gratifying!