Burns' work coalesces around color, light, and the things she loves- the changing seasons in the Northeast, a certain time of day or night, rich textures, surprising shapes; making sense out of chaos or finding wonder in subject matters others dismiss. She focuses on the natural world, primarily working in oil paint on canvas. Other media include watercolor and pastel. While her paintings draw from actual places, they are abstract syntheses, created in the studio. Over the years she has gradually moved from directly in nature to working indoors from photos or memory. "In my studio, I'm more likely to be selective and push color further away from the realistic, but in the end, the painting itself leads the way."