I grew up in Coral Gables, Florida, the youngest of five children. I had a great childhood playing outside with my friends, surrounded by lush vegetation and flowers and skittering lizards under a brilliant blue sky. I loved visiting an attraction called the Parrot Jungle, where I was enchanted by the birds' bright, bold colors and patterned feathers. My interest in nature and my love of color evolved during these formative years.
I also spent a few childhood years in Ireland, where my father served as Ambassador during the Kennedy administration. The Irish landscape was a patchwork of sparkly greens, filled with cows, sheep and other animals I'd never seen in tropical Miami. There were storybook castles and thatched roof cottages everywhere. I read about leprechauns in Irish folk stories and firmly believed in them!
These two very different environments - the sunny tropics of Miami and the magical surroundings of Ireland - really influenced my development as an artist. When I create book illustrations today, I still draw on these vivid childhood memories for inspiration.
I developed a love of language from my mother, a published poet. When I was little, she strung rhyming words together throughout the day in a playful way. This taught me that words could be fun, and even musical. My mother’s strong influence is reflected in the way I write my picture books today - entirely in rhyme.
I majored in art at Occidental College in Los Angeles. After graduating, I held many "day" jobs - art gallery manager, special events coordinator and public relations director - while continuing to paint. I also designed covers for note card companies and freelanced as a textile designer for the apparel industry, designing fabric for clothing sold at Lord & Taylor and other stores.
Years later, after marrying and having a family, I took my two children to the library every week to check out picture books. I became interested in writing and illustrating a book of my own, but I needed an idea. Then, while once visiting the zoo, my kids were amazed to see a flamingo standing on one leg - sound asleep! This was just the idea I was looking for and inspired my first book, Some Sleep Standing Up. Since then I've written and illustrated seven more books and am currently working on another. My artwork is also featured on products such as puzzles and notecards.
It's a joy for me to express my passion for rhythm, rhyme, color and pattern in my picture books - and to convey that passion in my school and conference programs. And nature, the ultimate designer, is always my theme and inspiration.