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Sue Shanahan
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Sue Shanahan has spent her career as an artist bringing children to life in her illustrations. In addition to contributing work to various children’s books and magazines, she has been commissioned by such clients as Walt Disney World and Auyrn Inc. Oprah Winfrey has purchased Sue’s art for her private collection and had her as a guest on her ”Favorite Things” show. Sue’s work has also found its way into the White House, where her portrait of Chelsea Clinton hung in the former First Lady’s study.

As a writer Sue’s blog, Commonplace Grace, is regularly featured in the Huffington Post.

Entries by Sue Shanahan

We Burn Brighter Together

(0) Comments | Posted July 31, 2014 | 2:31 PM

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"Good friends are like stars. You don't always see them, but you know they are always there." -- Eleanor Roosevelt

I just returned from our annual one week stay on Martha's Vineyard. Since 1997, my family has vacationed together there. Early on, my...

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In Art and Life: Perfectionism is the Enemy

(0) Comments | Posted July 16, 2014 | 11:32 AM

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Perfectionism is the enemy in art -- and just about everything.

Over the last 10 years, I've developed a pattern of procrastination when I begin a new illustration. I circle over my Arche's hot-pressed watercolor paper like a hawk stuck on repeat. I...

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American Hope

(0) Comments | Posted July 2, 2014 | 11:18 AM

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"Children are hopes" -- Novalis

I began work on the above illustration in 1999 through the advice of my then agent. It was all over the news at the time, that an immigrant family had named their newborn "America" in hopes of not...

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Hope Lives in Books

(0) Comments | Posted June 18, 2014 | 4:46 PM

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"There are perhaps no days of our childhood we lived so fully as those we spent with a favorite book." --Marcel Proust

The drawing above is one of my favorites. It illustrates a scene from a children's book my sister Laura wrote about...

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Learning From Maya

(0) Comments | Posted June 4, 2014 | 11:09 AM

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Maya Angelou 1928-2014

"When you learn, teach, when you get, give." -- Maya Angelou

Dr. Maya Angelou passed away peacefully on May 28th. She was a poet, memoirist, performer, educator, activist and mother. In 1982, when she took on a professorship at Wake...

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Coincidences: We Are Never Alone

(8) Comments | Posted May 22, 2014 | 12:12 PM

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In 2012, while vacationing on Martha's Vineyard, I was shopping for a beach read. A little volume, whose cover wore the night sky, caught my eye. Its title, When God Winks: How the Power of Coincidence Guides Your Life, intrigued...

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How Can I Be Plus Size And Invisible?

(0) Comments | Posted May 14, 2014 | 7:51 AM

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Hello Gorgeous

I am a plus-sized woman. There is no hiding that. Although being large was the bane of my youth, at 58 I've come to terms with what is. I've spent a large portion of my life on a diet...

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Grandchildren: A Shift in Focus

(0) Comments | Posted April 24, 2014 | 11:01 AM

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My first grandchild, Cameron John Shanahan, was born on April 8, 2014. I was looking forward to his arrival from the moment my son, Brian, and his wife, Pam, told me they were expecting. In fact, I jumped up and down...
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The Big Picture: Perspective Is Everything

(0) Comments | Posted April 9, 2014 | 4:18 PM

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The Big Picture

"I'm like the painter with his nose to the canvas, fussing over details. Gazing from a distance, the reader sees the big picture." - Author Steven Saylor

My sister Ann passed away, without warning, on the morning of...

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I Once Knew a Girl Who Gave Up Thinking...

(0) Comments | Posted March 28, 2014 | 12:55 PM

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The mind is a complete idiot. -- Dr. David R. Hawkins M.D., Ph.D.

I have a young friend who never ceases to amaze me. When Andrea and I first met, I took her soft-spokeness as mousy. Inside and out, she seemed pretty ordinary....

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Over the Rainbow: Your Life's Purpose

(0) Comments | Posted March 26, 2014 | 3:27 PM

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(This illustration graced notecards I did as a gift for Maria Shriver's 50th birthday.)

"The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why." - Mark Twain

Everyone's life has a calling....

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Sojourner's Truth

(2) Comments | Posted February 27, 2014 | 10:06 AM

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"Every time God's children have thrown away fear in the pursuit of honesty, trying to communicate, understood or not -- miracles have happened." -- Duke Ellington

Whenever I think about the life of Sojourner Truth I'm inspired and amazed. She was...

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I Love You to the Moon and Back

(0) Comments | Posted February 13, 2014 | 9:13 AM

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My love will always light your path

And guide you to the moon and back.

It greets you at the break of day

And whispers from the milky way.

- Sue Shanahan, Love You to the Moon & Back (2012)

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Keep Going: Harriet Tubman's Legacy

(0) Comments | Posted February 3, 2014 | 1:10 PM

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"Don't ever stop. Keep going. If you want a taste of freedom, keep going." -- Harriet Tubman

No one knows if Harriet Tubman really uttered these words, but there isn't any question that she lived them. Harriet was born into slavery and raised...

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Being Beautiful Is Not a Profession

(0) Comments | Posted January 30, 2014 | 4:30 PM

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I learned very young that a woman's power came from her looks. Specifically, my beauty, or lack there of, was how my worth was measured. The straightness of my nose and thickness of my eyelashes were important but useless if I...

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Let it Snow: Hercules Couldn't Keep Me From My Son's Wedding

(0) Comments | Posted January 21, 2014 | 8:50 AM

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Friday, January third, was my birthday. This year it was to be part of a bigger celebration. My husband Bob, our son Rob, his wife Emily and I were booked on an early morning flight from Chicago to Boston. We were...

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Hope in the New Year

(0) Comments | Posted December 31, 2013 | 5:20 PM

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The pears in the drawing symbolize hope. The mocking bird is not only from Oprah's favorite book, To Kill a Mockingbird but is the official State Bird of Mississippi.


"Hope makes the impossible possible." - Lorna Byrne

In 2001, I...

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Don't Waste the Miracle

(0) Comments | Posted December 19, 2013 | 9:32 AM

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There's a spiritual energy that covers the earth during the holiday season. It's that undefinable "something" that makes people more selfless, more friendly and kind when December rolls around. As a child I learned it was called the Christmas spirit. Wise...

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For the Love of Grace

(0) Comments | Posted December 12, 2013 | 11:51 AM

"Blessed be childhood, which brings down something of heaven into the midst of our rough earthliness" -Henri Fredric Amiel


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Grace of My Heart


The little girl in the above illustration is Grace Audrey McDonnell. She is...

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Home Is Where the Heart Is, and the Heart Never Really Leaves home

(0) Comments | Posted December 10, 2013 | 12:50 PM

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The arms of love encompass you with your present, your past, your future, the arms of love gather you together. -Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

The concept for my above christmas card, Home for the Holidays, sprang from my daughter's imagination. Fresh from college, Bridget...

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