Cole was born in Oregon and raised in London, Hong Kong, and India. She graduated from Oregon State University with a degree in Zoology. She has spent time working in the Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic in environmental education, as a dive guide in St. Croix, US Virgin Islands, and as a naturalist guide in Baja, Mexico. She has written over 30 children's natural history books and travels with her husband Brandon, who is a wildlife photographer specializing in marine life.
It is from these amazing encounters that she derives much of her inspiration for her vividly colored, heavily textured and patterned paintings and mosaic sculptures. Drawing from her background in science, Cole creates vibrant examinations and celebrations of nature with glittering accents of glass and other mixed media.