As an award-winning illustrator and author of children’s picture books, a Rhode Island School of Design graduate and professor in the Illustration Department at RISD…I feel INCREDIBLY lucky; I get to do all the things that I love to do. But in truth: luck + hard work + passion were and are the main ingredients for where I’m at now. It’s one of the reasons that I became the Internship + Professional Development Advisor for my department; I see it as a way to help students get a running start into the professional realm, to open a doorway and give guidance into an unknown world. My favorite part, is looping graduates back in to pay it forward, and help the latest flock find their wings!

One of my latest ventures has taken my teaching to a new place, with a color course in the on-line universe of Lynda.com…I had to rethink how I would teach virtual students…who were virtually invisible ☺ The process of developing a course, teaching in front of and talking to- a camera, and not knowing how the content would be received and understood, was a creative challenge and an amazing journey.

As an illustrator, I’ve been able to explore painting and color with clients like Hasbro, Celestial Seasonings, Mead Johnson and Disney, and have received awards from the Society of Illustrators, multiple Awards of Excellence from Communications Arts, the Irma Simonton Black Award, and the Critici Erba Prize at the Bologna Book Fair. My artwork has been exhibited throughout the country with one-woman shows at Books of Wonder Gallery in New York and Beverly Hills, at the National Museum of American Illustration in Newport, the RISD Museum, Society of Illustrators (NY), The DeCordova Museum, and Storyopolis in LA.

MJ About Collage


I AM a native Rhode Islander, born in Pawtucket, and now live in Barrington with my most amazing creations to date, my daughter Gates and son Liam, and the long lashed Labrador beauty, Chance. As my luck continues…I have found joy with Tim and have discovered, as Aristotle so profoundly said

Tim and  - slight rouond“Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies.”

Excerpt of 5 Questions from the Providence Journal:

What were the first books you can remember that enthralled you?

The first book that I can remember was a primer that my older brothers brought home from catholic school…a Dick and Jane reader. The illustrations looked wooden and a little creepy to me…but fascinating! I was not in school yet…but recognized the word SURPRISE… and ever since, SURPRISE has been my favorite word and life mantra! The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins, and Horton Hears a Who pinged a moral chord. Dr. Seuss was a cagey devil- he knew how to tell big life stories with little rhyming ones. The books that touched my writer and artist soul though, were the Little House on the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, illustrated in soft black and white tones by Garth Williams. I think that series set in motion my love of traveling in the mind through story, and building worlds with pictures that invite a person in, and let them imagine the world beyond the page.

Who are the people who inspire you?

The people that inspire me most are almost never famous. They are often the under dog. …they are people who step up to the plate and do what’s right, in the face of danger, hardship, impossible odds and with no expectation of reward or gratitude. I see the faces of these people in the news, I know them as friends and love them as family. My greatest inspiration is my mother, she is a light like no other…and my father, who learned to grow and be giving, late in life, but not too late.

Are you a cat or dog person?

Yes. I’m a Cat~Dog person.
I love cats.
I love dogs.
Variety is the spice of life!

about page studio shotWhat are your top three songs on your iPod?

I don’t have an ipod…but on my computer, my favorite songs in this order are:

Goodbye by German composer Ulrich Schnauss
Boxes by The Steelwells
Home by the Talking Heads

Pandora.com is one of my best friends…she serves up alternative music, 70’s and big 80’s tunes, bluegrass, funk…and keeps me guessing. I have synesthesia and see colors when I hear music…it helps me paint! I can’t play a tune on anything, but music creates pictures and color in my mind. People who can sing and make music are magical to me…

What is your favorite part of the day?

When it’s sunny…late day, with long purple shadows and orange light. When it’s a gray day…early morning when the day is filled with blue green expectation.

Are you an indoor or outdoor person?

HA! Like the cat and dog question…love the ying, love the yang.
I am a nester, so the home is a sanctuary.
Nature is the place to stretch the wings and fly.

How do you define comfort food?

Comfort food is the food that makes you feel like a child in a safe, warm embrace.
I cook, consult Bon Appétit and Cook’s Illustrated on a regular basis…utterly believe in eating whole, unprocessed foods to sustain life and health. But if I think about grilled cheese sandwiches, Campbell’s Cream of Tomato soup, and TV tables parked in front of a Disney movie on a Sunday night with my family when we were kids…now THAT’s comfort food!!

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