Meet Nicole Cotten Callac: a local live painter, high school art teacher and artist

When Nicole Cotten Callac was struggling with classes in high school, there was one subject she still flourished in: art.

She was introduced to the art world through painting and drawing. After studying photography and painting at LSU, she knew she wanted to help others learn about the wonders of art and have the freedom to express themselves in a safe space.

Now, the 30-year-old is a full-time high school art teacher at The Dunham School. When she’s not teaching, she does live painting at events, sells paintings at local markets and paints portraits for clients.

The Baton Rouge native loves her job. She paints live at galas, weddings, sports games and other events. She uses oil paint to capture the unique scene she’s conveying through an abstract expressionist style.

“It feels like I’m a part of this process that has been around forever,” Callac says. “The impressionists would go set up their canvas at a boat party and start painting because that was the only way to capture memories. So I really appreciate the live painting coming back.”

Callac knows how to experiment with colors to create a standout piece. Her art often pays close attention to highlights and shadows using a variety of colors. To depict someone’s skin tone, she uses blues, pinks and purples as a striking way to challenge herself and the viewer. In her home studio, she paints with watercolors, acrylics and oils on wood, canvas and paper.

Much of her work features nature and the female form. She paints female figures in different scenes, with different hair styles, clothing and subtle mannerisms. Her creations are often a reflection of how she is feeling or what she’s experiencing currently, she says.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, Callac sold her work at Mid City Makers Market and the Baton Rouge Arts Market. Now, locals can shop her art online or email her to request commissions. No matter how circumstances may change, she says she plans to continue teaching and helping others tap into their artistic side.

“I don’t think I’ll ever want to give up experiencing art with other people,” Callac says. nicolecallac.com

This article was originally published in the August 2020 issue of 225 Magazine.