Once a month, we feature local small business owners and artists who are using their creativity to make the homes and businesses of Roanoke beautiful.
This month, our spotlight is on artist Maria Osorio Driscoll. Maria’s abstract representations of landscapes, fruit, and nature in her paintings feature her signature bright and cheerful color palette. Every year for the holidays, she also has also paints a collection of ornaments showcasing those same bold colors.
Bringing Joy: Maria’s Story
Maria has been creating artwork her whole life. Originally from Bogota, Colombia, she came to Roanoke to visit a relative in 1999 and unexpectedly met her husband. She transferred from the university she was attending in Colombia to Hollins University, where she finished her art degree. She has been a full-time artist ever since.
“I started out doing a lot of murals for kids’ rooms and just doing canvas pieces on the side,” Maria said. “In the past four to five years, I’ve transitioned and now I’m mainly just doing canvases.”
She gets her inspiration for her paintings from nature. She also reads a lot of interior design magazines, seeking to stay up to date on the trends so that her paintings can coordinate with a variety of homeowners’ interiors.
Several years ago, CIRCLE commissioned Maria to create a custom art package featuring Roanoke landmarks for our clubhouse design at South 16 at The Bridges apartments. Maria’s large painting of the Roanoke Star became especially popular in the community. “I created prints of it and started selling them,” Maria said. “That project is one of the things that propelled some of my other work.”
One of Maria’s renditions of the Roanoke Star.
Maria does several shows each year and sells her work through local markets and at Magnolia Home Furnishings in Roanoke. With the continuing rise in popularity of social media, Maria, like other artists, has found a lot of success with promoting selling her artwork through these platforms. “Instagram has been a great way to get the word out,” she said. “I find myself shipping art to places I never expected.”
She gets most of her work now through commissions. “I get a lot of requests for landscapes mainly. Places that are meaningful—family properties, where they’ve gotten engaged, things like that,” Maria said. “Sometimes I get requests for paintings of their wedding bouquets. Those are not super realistic. I call them flower bombs because they are close up and all over the canvas. People also like my fruit.”
Throughout her career, no matter whether she is a painting the Roanoke star or a bowl of fruit, her use of bright and bold colors and patterns has been the consistent theme of all of her pieces. She strives to bring joy through her artwork.
“I think what people like the most about it is the colors,” she said. “It’s cheerful, colorful, and bold. It’s just happy.”
A Colorful Christmas: Maria’s Holiday Collection
At Christmas, Maria brings joy with her unique collection of holiday pieces. “About two years ago, I noticed that a lot of artists were doing their own line of Christmas ornaments, so I started doing those myself.”
Since then, she has hand painted hundreds of holiday ornaments featuring the same cheerful color palettes that she uses in her paintings. This year, for the first time, she also painted some monochromatic color schemes, such as navy and white and black and gold.
The fact that her ornaments feature something other than a traditional Christmas color palette makes them unique. “A lot of people buy them as hostess gifts or teacher gifts,” Maria said. “I’ve even had a few people tell me that they’re starting to collect them.”
She also does a different holiday object each year. Last year she painted large wooden Christmas trees:
This year, she opted for 7-inch and 14-inch tree figurines, painted with her whimsical patterns.
As she creates these seasonal pieces in hopes of bringing Christmas cheer, Maria finds joy in the process. “I love playing with patterns, so these are a fun way to do that,” she said. “Once I start, it’s just relaxing, and suddenly I realize it’s 3:00 in the morning, and I’m still painting them. They’re just fun.”
She painted 300 ornaments and 32 trees and has sold out of all of them through custom orders, sales at local markets, and on Instagram. With only a few days until Christmas, Maria is working feverishly to finish her last four commissioned paintings that people are giving as gifts.
So unfortunately, if you want any of Maria’s holiday pieces, you’ll have to wait until next year. She’s hoping to launch an online shop in 2018, so keep your eyes peeled for those beautiful ornaments for sale early next Christmas season.
When she’s not painting, Maria enjoys spending time with her family, chasing around her two sons and two dogs. Maria is grateful for the Roanoke community, and she gives back on a regular basis by donating several paintings each year to local charities.
“I love the mountains and the people,” she said of Roanoke. “I just love doing paintings for people. It’s great how responsive and supportive everyone has been.”