By Hannah Priebe, Staff Writer

Lauren Miles likes to spend her spare time with her art supplies spread out, her music playing and her head in the stars.

Lauren enjoys making what she calls “galaxy paintings,” where she paints nebulas, planets and stars. Sometimes, she also includes a small form of text in the painting.

Her method of creating art involves experimenting with techniques such as using her fingers to paint the nebulas and planets, and even using a toothbrush to flick paint to create stars.

“The hands-on aspect is really freeing,” Lauren said. “I can paint what I want how I want it and allow myself to get messy.”

She keeps some of her paintings for herself, but most are given away as gifts. For the people she cares the most about, she likens giving them one of her creations to giving them a piece of herself.

Before leaving for college, Lauren gave her best friend, April, a galaxy painting. “A Piece of Sky for Me and You” is written on it, symbolizing the way the sky would keep them connected.

Out of all her creations, though, her favorite is a series of three paintings that she made after the  Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando earlier this year.

As a member of the LGBTQ+ community herself, the shooting devastated her, and she felt a deep need to do something to help, even if only on a small scale. As a result, she created three paintings to share a message of hope with others.

When the three paintings are combined, they form a nebula rainbow with the words “Love is Love.”

Upon seeing her paintings, others are often awestruck by the detail and artistic ability they showcase.

Lauren wants to continue with art as a hobby throughout her life because she believes in the power it possesses.

“Painting is really important, and it can tell a lot about who I am,” she said.