In 1961 like most starving artists, Nicholas became a painting contractor. He painted people's houses, buildings, and a lot of commercial work for the United States Government. He soon started doing sign work for the Marine and Sailboat Sign Company, as well as working in the Newport News Shipyard Sign Shop. He was highly recognized by different art critics as well art companies that would come down to acquire his services. At the time, his mother and father thought he was too young to leave home.
Later, he was recognized by top artists and Professor A.B. Jackson. One of his very good friends was Allen Lewis and art teacher at Huntington High School. When Mr. Lewis needed help getting murals done or stage props he asked Nicholas to do it for him.
When he was in first grade at Booker T. Washington High School, his first-grade teacher, Mrs. Martha Johnson had notice his ability to put colors together and had made mention of it to his mother, as well as having him to do art work for the classroom. Nicholas can remember painting the same picture about twenty times until he came up with 'Family'.
Nicholas would do sketches of boats, trees, and arrangements of leave, and plants. His favoite artist was Van Gogh who did a lot of repetition. One day, Nicholas saw a painting of some of Van Gogh's work, which was a boat picture. Then, Nicholas realized his art was like Van Gogh, a great impressionist artist. The first boat painting that Nicholas ever sold was to one of his teachers, Mrs. Fannie King. He later would do a painting called, 'The Gatehouse'. He sold it to a banker named Arthur Slater.