Paintings of the stars

Local artist and LSU student Cora Barhorst paints lively nature-inspired portraits of animals, celebrities and icons

Art runs through Cora Barhorst’s blood. The Baton Rouge native was raised by her art historian mother. Growing up, she participated in art camps, took private painting lessons and ultimately received art scholarships to LSU.

Since she can remember, the 22-year-old has always enjoyed painting. But it wasn’t until she went to LSU that she realized she could turn her passion into a profitable business.

In December 2019, she started offering custom portraits, dog and house drawings and digital art to make extra money for Christmas. Before she knew it, she was swamped in commissions.

Now, Barhorst owns an online art business, Cora B. Gallery. She sells original paintings, prints, mini card sets and stickers. In addition, she makes custom portraits and art for customers upon request.

Her creations are bright, realistic and colorful. The history and classical studies major likes to experiment with different media and styles. She enjoys making iconography and nature-inspired pieces using acrylic paints.

“I make portraits of people that I would want to have paintings of in my house,” Barhorst says.


Barhorst wanted to offer something different from the average rectangular canvas, so circular canvases have become her signature style. On round canvases, she has painted portraits of musicians like Dolly Parton with a butterfly background and Harry Styles surrounded by sunflowers. She has also painted women leaders like Ruth Bader Ginsberg on a pink floral backdrop and Mother Teresa surrounded by beams of light and blue butterflies.

And this winter, her collection will be nothing like what her audience has seen from her before. She was inspired by Japanese watercolors, which she’s been interested in since she was in the eighth grade, and how subtle strokes of paint can make animals look feminine and delicate.

The upcoming collection is centered around animals, nature and gold hues. The decorative paintings feature cloudy, gold backgrounds with animals like butterflies, birds and tigers elegantly painted on the canvas. Barhorst wanted to make a new art series that people could use to accessorize their spaces.

Though her business is still new, Barhorst is off to an explosive start. She sells her work at Mid City Makers Market and in three galleries: Life Designed in Lafayette; Speakeasy Art in New Orleans; and Decor List, an online gallery based in London. All of her art is created from her home studio. In the future, she hopes to have a separate studio space and art gallery.

“By next year I want to have a studio and production space where I can go to consistently, manage myself, photograph my work and have a little place where people can come see my work in person,” Barhorst says. “In two to five years, I have a vision to open my own gallery of work.” corabgallery.com

This article was originally published in the December 2020 issue of 225 magazine.