“surprising nuance and depth” – Kirkus reviews

… more accessible and richer than a list of events. Despite the disappointments in her life, the narrator doesn’t wallow in self-pity. Instead, she ties her experiences to political and historical events with clear, sometimes funny one-liners…. In this way, her writing mirrors her line drawings—simple lines with surprising nuance and depth. The book’s title evokes her love of calligraphy, her meandering travels, her poetry (the book includes several poems) and society’s expectations for women that she must decide to uphold or not. Her deliberate storytelling style makes for thoughtful… reading.

Artists, writers and other “outsiders” will find much to ponder in this reflective memoir. — Kirkus Reviews



The Eric Hoffer Book Award, Honorable Mention for Memoir

This memoir chronicles six decades of a successful artist’s life. The author has become an internationally known painter, photographer, and poet, and has traveled in Asia, Mexico, France, Canada, and throughout this country. Much of her artwork and some of her poems are included here. Although she has always been creative, she writes, “Being an artist was not a label I sought or understood. It is my identity, not a job… The intense desire for the work of making art is a yearning necessity, as irresistible as the most attractive and jealous lover.” She now resides in Santa Fe. This memoirist does not have grudges to bear; rather, her book reveals a fortunate woman, moving through her life’s adventures and disappointments with almost unflagging perseverance. It should especially provide inspiration for readers who are earlier on the risky yet rewarding path to “following one’s bliss.”


A Life Beyond the Lines Jessica Treat: “most interesting and impressive” “honesty and clear-sightedness”

Susan Gardner is a poet and artist whose memoir, Drawing the Line, chronicles the life of a woman who increasingly places the rigor and discipline of art and the act of creation at the center of her life…..Gardner’s memoir is most interesting and impressive for its chronicle of the life of a highly intelligent, capable woman…. Gardner is able to devote herself to her sons, and enjoy the demands of motherhood.  At the same time she finds her way around obstacles and limitations (foreign service wives were not allowed to work at this time) to a life of great integrity and accomplishment that includes teaching, public service, fluency in first Korean and then Japanese, along with painting, drawing, printmaking, gallery shows and expositions.  Carving out a path that is her own, Gardner eventually journeys to Santa Fe, New Mexico….

After an initial chapter in Mexico, Drawing the Line follows Gardner’s life chronologically… which the reader comes to find increasingly compelling. The balance Gardner strikes between reserve and divulgence seems right, and the honesty and clear-sightedness with which she relates the continual challenges (the loss of a child, her husband’s affairs, exclusion from the working sphere abroad) as well as the resources she is able to draw from in facing them bind the reader to her with great compassion and respect.  Wherever she lives, she attempts to reach out, to create community, a life much larger than the one prescribed to her.  Gardner’s memoir will interest many, and to those women who struggle still against the dictates of society or their own upbringing, it provides an important example, a path of encouragement and a means of support.



Drawing the Line ~  Passionate Life is a work to savor…. imbued with the same vitality, restraint, and dignity as a perfect line. – Diane Thomas, author of The Year the Music Changed blood lotus November 2011 p61-62


Drawing The Line is a beautiful story of a woman’s struggle to be herself…. a personal exploration of the last six decades, and a peek into the formation of an artist…. – San Francisco Book Review
 August 2011

Drawing the Line is a fine memoir with plenty to absorb throughout. – Midwest Book Review/Small Press BookWatch Vol 10 No.8 August 2011

Gardner has given us a meticulously detailed, ruthlessly honest and emotionally redemptive story…. Drawing the Line generously offers that epiphany to all of us. — Wayne Lee, author of Doggerel & Caterwauls: Poems Inspired by Cats & Dogs

… sophisticated in its simplicity and profound in its lack of guile. Drawing the Line is soulful and beautiful. – Marc Talbert, author of Altogether Ernest

Susan Gardner’s Drawing the Line is a poignant and touching personal story that vividly captures what it is to grow and discover, not only as an artist, but as a human being. – Scott Harrison, Artistic Director, Ironweed Productions

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