Anthea Callen trained as a painter and print maker at Birmingham College of Art and Design (now Birmingham City University), in the UK. She went on to study and establish a career in art history and visual culture, while maintaining her art practice (see GALLERY). In 2010 Callen was Visiting Professor in the Painting Workshop at the School of Art and Design, Australian National University, Canberra, then Professor of Practice-led Research at the School.

Callen is a painter whose primary interest is in the human figure and its form, studied through drawing and colour using a wide range of mixed media from oils to pastel, inks to graphite; she undertakes portrait commissions. She has also consistently worked in collage to explore non-figurative ideas of colour, form and space and since 2000 has been experimenting with painted abstracts, working with acrylics on hand-made paper and now also on canvas.

Anthea Callen's practice is informed by her art-historical expertise (and vice versa), including her specialist knowledge of historical artists' materials and techniques. This correspondence is particularly relevant to her colour work and her oil painting. She has studied artistic anatomy as well as formal life drawing of the human figure and maintains a regular practice in this field. This interest crosses over into her research in art history, in her examination of the historical role of anatomical dissection in art and medicine, as well as artists' training in the discipline; this forms the basis of her new book on anatomy & masculinity for Yale University Press. She has researched and written on painters' studios in nineteenth-century France, and has recently published a book on 'plein air' landscape painting.

Anthea Callen began exhibiting her work regularly in the early 1990s; she has had a number of one-woman shows and has participated in group shows mainly with other women artists, and including three Warwickshire Arts Weeks.