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As a young girl I remember laying in bed looking intently at an embroidery hanging on my wall that was gifted to me when I was born. The hand stitching illustrated a mushroom with tiny forest animals gathered around.
I memorized every stitch of the bunny. I wondered what the little character was thinking. I dreamed about that world. Above the mushroom was the delicate embroidery of my name Marijanel Veronica with my birthday stitched underneath. The illustration was so pretty.
My years admiring illustrative artwork was formative. I grew to recognize the incredible value of one simple picture.
Knowing the power of the picture is what led me, as an adult, into photography and visual arts.
I was gifted with a vivid imagination from the start. A dreamer. A doer. A creator. Industrious. Thoughtful. Detailed. Good with my hands. I made huge messes as a kid. I was always found doing crafts. I remember taking green yarn, making a wig, hiding in the bushes and convincing my little brother that I was a green haired fairy.
My dad and I built a dollhouse together and much of my time was spent making teeny weeny food for the dolls out of polymer clay. I still have a tiny clay salad here on my desk and a box of my mini furniture in my studio to inspire me. When other kids were doing sports I was on an old sewing machine inventing new fashions. I loved and read Beatrix Potter and watched the Secret of Nimh a thousand times.
Artistry in my bloodline. My great grandmother was an oil painter, specializing in florals, and I remember visiting her apartment and colouring with crayons beside her. She taught me how to shade and to never go out of the lines. What she didn't realize about her granddaughter was that I LOVED to go out of the lines. Scribbling was risky and fun.
You'll notice even now my illustrations might appear tidy but if you look closely there's always some scribbling somewhere. I can't really help it. I have to scribble.
I spent much of my creative life pursuing "serious work", intent and accomplished at both photography and clay sculpture. But I lost my spark and I was hard on myself. It was finally in my 40s that I gave myself permission to be known as an illustrator. To scribble. To create whimsical characters and imaginary places. I’m so thankful I let go and allowed this gift to operate in my life.
Illustration had resurfaced in my life many times, and one day, after I drew a little mouse just for the fun of it...it stuck around for good. Now as a result of believing in the power of illustration and firsthandly seeing the joy and impact it brings, I've embraced this season of my journey.
I smile when I say that...
I take CUTE seriously!
I live in British Columbia, Canada with my hubs, Steve, and our kids CJ (21) and BJ (16). Our cat named Russell is kind enough to let us stay in our home (he’s king of the house of course) and he’s the star of my Instagram stories on @paintwithmj
I decided to go by MJ because sometimes Marijanel is hard to spell, it's pronounced like Mary Janelle but spelled like Marijane with an L. My mom added an L to her moms name. I've explained that so many times in my life, sometimes three to five times a day, that I finally just say "I'm MJ"
When I’m not creating as an illustrator you might find me cooking (I lean toward vegetarianism these days) and taking photos for enjoyment. I enjoy writing, podcasting and dabbling in all areas of art and creativity. I have several children’s books that I hope to publish in the near future. My stories come to me when I'm least expecting them. Every morning I have coffee and journal. Through my life I’ve clung to faith that we are all unconditionally loved by our Creator and I challenge myself to live that way and show that through my illustrations.
I dedicate time every day to illustrating and developing classes. I personally fulfill and send handwritten notes when you order from my shop. I care about the success of each student who takes my online classes. I aim to keep the classes fun, yet informative, because it's been the joy if illustration that's healed me. I thrive at seeing students be successful and discover the wonderful world of illustration.
I purpose to open my eyes to flowers, bees, butterflies, birds and harmony of life all around me in order to capture it in story picture. I am incredibly grateful to be here today and I thank you for taking the time to read my story.
That's a bit about me. Marijanel aka MJ
Marijanel Knight Illustrator + Teacher