This Virginia Artist Finds Inspiration in Her Blue Ridge Mountain Home

Colombian born artist Maria Osorio Driscoll fills her artwork with flying colors

Maria Osorio Driscoll, Painter from Roanoke, Virginia
Maria with her cheery artwork and fabrics. Photo: Leslee Mitchell; Hair, Makeup, and Wardrobe Styling: Candace Corey/Zenobia

Maria Osorio Driscoll was supposed to spend just one summer in Virginia, helping her aunt with a newborn baby. "The first week, I met a boy and found my future husband," says the Bogotá, Colombia, native with a laugh. She transferred to Roanoke to finish her art degree and has called it home ever since. "One summer turned into 22 years," she says.

For the better part of that time, Maria has been sharing her vibrant Colombian style with the South through her artwork, filling canvases with bold strokes and bright colors (@mariaosoriodriscoll). "I love being an artist," she says. "For me, it's about the connections that I've made with people, how they react to my art, and the joy it brings them."

Where I Find Inspiration

"Colombia—the natural beauty is incredible. There's a lot of value in craftsmanship; I grew up going to places with different ethnic communities because I loved seeing and collecting their textiles. My dad grows orchids, so I did a collection last fall for Well + Wonder [an online art gallery] inspired by them. He is like Mr. Miyagi from The Karate Kid: He retired from being a dentist and now plays with his orchids all day. He hangs them under plantain trees, and it's fun. My mom has always had art and flowers in our house, too, so I was raised around a lot of color and blooms."

Why I Like Taking Commissions

"I know a lot of artists don't do commissions, but I enjoy working on them because there is always a story behind them… I get emails from husbands who want to do something special for their wives, like [paintings of their] wedding bouquets or places where they met or got engaged. A lady with breast cancer bought a big painting to celebrate the milestone of finishing treatment. I love hearing those stories; the relationships are really important to me."

How To Start Collecting Art

"I think if you love it, get it. When I first began my collection, I could afford only a 6- by 6-inch piece… Now, I have a lot of little paintings all over my house. I move them around, and they make me so happy. I feel like a lot of artists are very flexible. For me, if you have something in mind that you want to work toward or are saving for, we can make it happen. With social media, it's so nice that you can connect with artists directly and get to know more about them."

Maria Osorio Driscoll, Painter from Roanoke, Virginia
Maria and her German shorthaired pointer, Bo. Leslee Mitchell; Hair, Makeup, and Wardrobe Styling: Candace Corey/Zenobia

Local Spots for Spring Adventures

"The Roanoke River Greenway is a walking path along the water that's really beautiful. My favorite place to hike is McAfee Knob on the Appalachian Trail. We've done it at sunrise a couple of times, and it's truly spectacular to get up there in the dark and then see everything [once the sun comes up]! I like exploring anywhere around the James River or Carvins Cove Reservoir too. There's a ton of hiking trails and pretty places."

A Tradition Colombia Shares with the South

"Gathering around the table is important—so are the recipes that you pass along to people you love. In my house, there's always room for someone else at the table. We'll have big meals where we'll sit for two hours afterward and just talk. The joy of putting something together to eat with people you love is really similar."

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