Laurie Buck’s studio is in bloom. Not with real flowers, mind you, but canvases alive with them. Wearing a paint-splattered apron, the former English teacher holds sway at her natural-light-filled space on the second floor of the White Whale, a circa 1880 boarding house that is now home to a coven of creatives.

Flowers are the chosen subject for this self-taught artist, nature’s endless variations providing ample fodder for her explorations of color. Her florals are not so much representational of the natural world as they reflect her memories and impressions, an intuitive study in color, shape, and line, forever preserved in acrylic paint. “Color is everything,” notes the artist of her experiments with monochromatic hues. “I feel like I’m studying color as I move from light to dark, learning as I go how one color turns into other colors and shades and tones.”

Displaying an ethereal abstract quality, Laurie’s work mirrors her optimistic philosophy that beautiful things arise from life’s chaos. Her free brushstrokes bring to mind the paintings of Post-Impressionists such as Van Gogh, Cézanne, and Matisse, whose works have influenced her style. “When I begin a large painting, I make all kinds of slashes and crazy abstract marks on my canvases and build on top of those. You can see the drips and splotches,” she says, pointing to a large canvas on the mantle in her studio. “The paintings grow organically as I go.”

A literature major, Buck claims she was more comfortable crafting words. “I always said I was not artistic,” she confesses. It wasn’t until her oldest daughter was about six years old (Laurie stopped teaching when her first child was born) that she uncovered her penchant for visual art. Each week, as a bonding experience, the two would watch YouTube videos of how to draw faces, and that’s how Laurie learned to draw. The next thing she knew, she had turned the family dining room into a makeshift art studio.

The mother of three steals time—most often when her children are at school—to cultivate her craft. Her studio, which she calls “my happy place,” performs multiple functions: art space, oasis, office, shipping area. It even contains a covered table that doubles as her “coffee bar.”

Taking inspiration from gardens and interior design, Laurie is grateful for the opportunity to create and help support her family with her work. “Art has been the most beautiful and unexpected gift God has given me,” declares the soft-spoken artist. “It’s something I never dreamed I could do.”

You can purchase Laurie Buck’s work online through her website