Laura Glenn Douglas was born in Winnsboro, South Carolina, and began her studies at the College for Women in Columbia, South Carolina. She later attended the Corcoran School of Art and Design in Washington, D.C. and in 1925, she was in New York at the Art Students League. From 1927–1935 Douglas studied in Paris with Fernand Léger and in Munich with Hans Hoffman. Douglas’s paintings were shown widely in Paris, including at important exhibitions such the Salon d’Automne, the Salon des Tuileries, and the Salon des Indépendants. Upon her return to America in 1935, Douglas worked on commissions in South Carolina, producing both easel paintings and murals for public buildings from 1935–1938 and again from 1940–1942.
In 1942 Douglas established a permanent studio in Washington, D.C. and for the next twenty years, taught painting at The Phillips Collection. Her letters of reference included praise from Hans Hoffman, Fernand Léger, Alfred Stieglitz, and Georgia O'Keeffe—all remarking on her aesthetic sensitivity and technical skill.
Motivated by a desire to promote her native state through her painting, Douglas confined her work to subjects of South Carolina after 1940. Douglas commented on this shift during one of her lectures at The Phillips Collection stating, “the South has been sung in song, literature, prose, and poetry, but the portrayal of the South in painting has not been successfully done as yet. I seek to put the poetry and history of the South in paint, but with vigor and creativeness and not sentimentalism.”