My senses are my profession, so I respect them and listen to them with great interest. 

My art, like my life, is heavily influenced by my sensory experience. I see sound as color. It hurts to touch some common textures, like towels. I will always have sunglasses, and often noise-canceling headphones in my bag. And, I feel most myself barefooted.

The way my brain processes sensory information is similar to the way autistic adults' brains process sensory input. I am grateful for this beyond my art (and despite any and all pain caused to me) because it has given me so much in common with people I love, some of whom started as strangers, others as family.

My attention to my senses makes my work more vibrant, colorful and rich in texture. Creating a portrait, for me as an artist, is about respecting my neurodivergence and celebrating the beauty of our shared experience as artist and artist's model.

I paint 3-5 commissioned portraiture artworks and limited series solo per year. Start your commission(s) here. 


 "Constellations", 2013 (ABOVE) hung in the Martha Gault Art Gallery, as part of 'SELF: An International Juried Exhibit of Women's Self Portraiture', at Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania. 

 "Constellations", 2013 (ABOVE) hung in the Martha Gault Art Gallery, as part of 'SELF: An International Juried Exhibit of Women's Self Portraiture', at Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania. 

"Hummingbird", 2012 (ABOVE) hung in "The Intersection of Painting and Photography: A Father-Daughter Journey Through Art" in Sertoma Arts Center, Raleigh, NC. 

"Hummingbird", 2012 (ABOVE) hung in "The Intersection of Painting and Photography: A Father-Daughter Journey Through Art" in Sertoma Arts Center, Raleigh, NC. 

I always start my paintings by creating a photograph or series of photographs. I see these as my sketches. 

I have painted a portrait of myself each fall since becoming a full-time painter.

And, I have a photo shoot or drawing session with myself every six-months. 

Having portraits made that explore your personal meaning, on a regular basis, is something I recommend to everyone. Even if you can't afford to have the collaboration of a professional artist on a commission, use your smartphone or point-and-shoot on a timer to take images of yourself, expressing where you are in life.

 I've learned a lot about who I want to be, by asking and answering questions about what I think of myself through images. 

My process is the same on self-portraits as it is with other subjects.

 

AN EXAMPLE OF MY CURRENT ACRYLIC PORTRAIT PROCESS: "GENDER", 2014 (BELOW)

For some reason that I can't entirely explain with words, this is what I had in mind for my 2014 self-portrait: I wanted something between a mug shot of Jesse James and an ornate victorian art nouveau illustration. This is what came of that idea, and my process for working a painting. 

#1: the Photograph, edited.

Edited with Adobe Photoshop and Corel Painter. 

I always start my portrait paintings by printing a little 4x6 photograph. I develop the digital file using Photoshop and Corel Painter, then make a little print in my studio in Raleigh, NC on fine art Hahnemühle paper.

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#2: Painting on a 4x6 Print of the photograph

Pens. Acrylic Ink. Gouache.

Then, I paint into the little photograph to make a little painting. I use a unique combination of acrylic ink mixed with gouache, Copic pens, with contour brushes, blown air, and my fingers. I also use a lot of texture: marble dust, sand, seashells, and lately, beer brewing ingredients. These little paintings fit in the palm of your hand, and are hard to put down once you're holding it. 

#3: Painting on a large Canvas Print of the little painting

A final, varnished original work. Often framed or mounted and ready to hang. 

Then, I photograph the little painting, edit the photo and print an enlarged version onto canvas. I paint on this new canvas more, using similar techniques to the ones I used on the smaller image, but with larger strokes and often deeper textures. This is the final painting, when it finishes this stage. 

#4: Final painting installed/displayed

 The final painting is installed in it's new home, ready for decades of viewing. 

The canvas will then be either be framed or stretched and ready to hang/display. This particular painting hangs on the mantelpiece of my studio, with the little painting in the box beside it, so that I can illustrate my process all hands-on in the studio. 

 

Paintings

 

Click to see the full, large image. 

Some are collaborations, some are solo efforts. Some are digital, some are original acrylic. I offer a limited number of commissions per year.

 

****I've started drawing & coloring comic portraits! I penciled, inked, flatted, and colored the above piece, using an image I'd taken for a client. 

Comics!

Painting has been teaching me how to draw. I drew this sketch, working from a painting portrait I did earlier (seen above as a little thumbnail here). 

Painting has been teaching me how to draw. I drew this sketch, working from a painting portrait I did earlier (seen above as a little thumbnail here). 

Then I colored the sketch, using modern comic coloring methods (I've been taking a class, you never stop learning). Like the Hubble image in the background?

I came late to comics, so I read a thousand pages a week, and I try to draw/paint/write everyday. I've been doing this for about a year now, and I can feel it enrich my paintings and the scope of what I am able to do with writing. I love that comics can be a beautiful combination of literature and art.  It's a new dream of mine to write and/or color a monthly book. Comic portraits are something I currently do on commission, and I am working on my illustration portfolio. 

Photography

I like to show a couple of straight photographs, because people sometimes forget I start with photography when making a painting. And, as such, I also offer collections of images that I created but were not selected for a painting, including prints/wall art/albums.

I've taken tens of thousands of photographs; I take thousands of photos a month with my iPhone alone. It's an amazing way to interact with the world around you, and explore different ways of seeing. For me, photography has been like sketching, even from before I could draw at all with a pen and paper. For nearly a decade, I have been sketching beauty and the outlines of stories with photography. 

Hey, I am Cari, and I'm a painter.

I feel like Dexter at that one NA meeting, declaring my secret, saying it that way. But, it's true: I'm a painter. I know, right?  I didn't think it was a possible career either, until I was living it. I often collaborate with my Dad (painter Don Quiett) on pieces, and you can read more about our story together here. I'm also a published writer (poetry and fiction in journals and reviews), creative writing teacher (I've taught university level courses and currently mentor autistic adult writers one-on-one). Below is how I see my story as a visual artist.

Your being here helps me keep doing this dream of a job and bring art in a personal way into people's lives. People like you, if you like all this of course : )   

What's my Story as an Artist?

(The tl;dr version. If you're in a hurry, check out the pictures to the right to learn, quickly, a bit about me.)
Claude Monet's series of paintings "Houses of Parliament" is a favorite of mine. I feel blessed to have seen one in person. I may have touched it. I was young, and the daughter of a painter who told me paintings were meant to be touched. If I did touch it, it felt like the velvet dress of the lady of the lake, just as she emerged from the water. I probably didn't touch it though, so it's ok. 

Claude Monet's series of paintings "Houses of Parliament" is a favorite of mine. I feel blessed to have seen one in person. I may have touched it. I was young, and the daughter of a painter who told me paintings were meant to be touched. If I did touch it, it felt like the velvet dress of the lady of the lake, just as she emerged from the water. I probably didn't touch it though, so it's ok. 

When I was a little kid, I had a window seat with a big round window and built-in book shelves. I'd stand on the cushions tippy-toed and take art books from the shelf one at a time, so I always knew where the one I held belonged. Then, I'd curl up in the corner, and lose myself in paintings, page by page. I'd make up stories about who these people were to the artist, and I loved to imagine their world in the past as different to ours in the present. I particularly liked the color in the portraits of Renoir, and was fascinated by the casual nudity found in a slim volume of Courbet's paintings. Cassatt taught me the beauty of small moments, of children and families. And Kandinsky taught me that meaning doesn't have to be legible. Books are magic. In the recent "Cosmos" with Neil DeGrasse Tyson, he claims that writing a book can change the world. I couldn't agree more. 

Monet painted the same scene, from the same spot, on different days, and during different types of weather.  Everything changes, moment by moment. It's part of the beauty of life, that the only constant is change. Monet made moments timeless in a way that only art can. I love that. 

Monet painted the same scene, from the same spot, on different days, and during different types of weather.  Everything changes, moment by moment. It's part of the beauty of life, that the only constant is change. Monet made moments timeless in a way that only art can. I love that. 

In high school, I fell in love with writing, and with Oscar Wilde's work. I saw myself in the fictional painter Basil Hallward in a way I'd never seen myself in a fictional character before, and I loved the idea that he put too much of himself in painting a portrait that looked nothing like him, that was of someone else. Beauty is a way of seeing. Wilde also taught me that paintings can change the way we see the world. The story, as it was told to me (though I have since found the details to be less than accurate, this is still my favorite version): Both Wilde and Monet would stay in the same hotel in London, the Savoy, and Monet would paint his view of the Houses of Parliament out of that hotel room window, and Wilde would say of his paintings, that Monet forever changed the way Westminster looked to all who saw his paintings. And, it's true, for me at least. I can't look at those famous buildings without conjuring Monet's vast sea of colors enveloping them. Art changes the world, too; it changes more how we see things as individuals. And, importantly, it can change how we see ourselves.

Here I'm using a PS4 to take a photograph that became a painting.

Here I'm using a PS4 to take a photograph that became a painting.

Since grad school (MFA in Poetry), I have been fascinated with self portraiture. Each time I render a vision of myself, it becomes a part of my self-identity. I can reassure myself, touch the keystone of my own truth, when I look at myself in my paintings and works of art. I am beautiful, complicated, sometimes ill, and sometimes seductive. More than anything, the portraits I've made of myself remind me of who I want to be. How I see myself, and how I want to feel in life, is worth more than anything to me.

Making art is fun, and natural. I want to show any one who sits for me the beauty they keep on the inside, that 'self' they let shine when they're engaged in living and being candid. I want to show you yourself.  Furthermore, the way I think of it is: I want you to inspire yourself, as you inspire art.

Here is an example of my digital process, taking photography to an art portrait. This image was taken while playing "Flower" for PS4. 

Here is an example of my digital process, taking photography to an art portrait. This image was taken while playing "Flower" for PS4. 

I can't remember being happier than I was eating this, outside of creating art. And, Dad's face while I plopped the raw squid in my mouth, after I told him what it was: priceless.  

I can't remember being happier than I was eating this, outside of creating art. And, Dad's face while I plopped the raw squid in my mouth, after I told him what it was: priceless.  

As I'm telling you this, I have 57 books checked out from the library in my studio. (I read while the layers of my paintings dry.) They're all graphic novels, except two memoirs from autistic writers. I subscribe to over 30 monthly comics, mostly from Image. It's a dream of mine to write a series based on the idea of Don Quixote going road-tripping across the American West, and for it to be dripping with beauty in watercolor. I have started this novel/series.

As I'm telling you this, I have 57 books checked out from the library in my studio. (I read while the layers of my paintings dry.) They're all graphic novels, except two memoirs from autistic writers. I subscribe to over 30 monthly comics, mostly from Image. It's a dream of mine to write a series based on the idea of Don Quixote going road-tripping across the American West, and for it to be dripping with beauty in watercolor. I have started this novel/series.

My older brother collects classic video games systems. (Don't you just love all the wires.) This one is a pride-and-joy japanese import. I love feeling like a little kid, cross-legged on the floor, playing games over the holidays. 

My older brother collects classic video games systems. (Don't you just love all the wires.) This one is a pride-and-joy japanese import. I love feeling like a little kid, cross-legged on the floor, playing games over the holidays. 

I like corners. They are comfy, safe, good places for magic to happen. This is the corner of my first studio in Raleigh, NC. I also like natural wood, repurposing tools, and organized chaos. 

I like corners. They are comfy, safe, good places for magic to happen. This is the corner of my first studio in Raleigh, NC. I also like natural wood, repurposing tools, and organized chaos. 

Dad's painting-name is Don Quiett.

We collaborate, often, in our arts.


My Collaborations with Don Quiett (my Dad):


(Part of) Dad's Story with Art:

Dad started painting in the closet under the stairs as a kid (a voluntary Harry Potter), because his parents didn't approve of painting. They would say painters were "queers" or "bums" and that both of those things were bad.....It was a different time, not that it really excuses my grandparents. We come from an irish neighborhood in Pittsburgh. Dad eventually came out of the closet (irony, hehe) and painted while he got two doctorates and played football. He played for Penn State, and still holds the record for longest punt (at the time of writing this). 

"Music is Born Here" is my favorite of Dad's paintings done before I was born; it hung in the NCMA, Raleigh, back in the late 70s. 

"Music is Born Here" is my favorite of Dad's paintings done before I was born; it hung in the NCMA, Raleigh, back in the late 70s. 

His paintings hung in galleries across the country, as he authored scientific articles and met dignitaries as an epidemiologist. He met Mum, when she came to teach at NCSU, where he also taught. It was in Mum's garden, years later, that Dad taught me mashing marigolds could make orange pigments for my fingerpaintings. And, it was then I first realized how much I liked orange. 

 

One of my favorite memories as a kid, is watching this painting be illuminated by lightening in the middle of the night. Why I love it fascinates me. For Dad, this is 'The Horse Laugh of Death' and explores what the Vietnam War means to him. 

One of my favorite memories as a kid, is watching this painting be illuminated by lightening in the middle of the night. Why I love it fascinates me. For Dad, this is 'The Horse Laugh of Death' and explores what the Vietnam War means to him. 

Our Story (together) with Art:

Since I received my Master of Fine Arts in 2013, Dad and I have been painting together. I'd been creating professional portraits as a photographer (of families, individuals and covering weddings) for over half a decade by this point, so we started combining my more artistic portraits and physical paint. We haven't looked back since. Now, I only take on photography commissions that will end in paintings.

(That is how painting is my livelihood now, and it's awesome.)

In the summer of 2014 we had our first "solo" gallery show. The show featured all of our collaborations, our explorations on where photography meets painting and where our arts overlap and mingle. We called it "The Intersection of Painting and Photography", and the show hung over a month in the Raleigh Room of the Sertoma Arts Center. 

I learned from Dad to value color, the power of texture, and how to care for my brushes. Dad's philosophy is that my brushes are like good friends, I should never let them dry out dirty (which feels metaphorical).

And, he's learned from me.......that whitespace is cool sometimes, and metallic paints play with changing light and that he needs to tell stories that start with "I" as an artist not "we" like one would in scientific writing.

My solo paintings, and our paintings together, always start with a photograph.

We've been told more than once that our portraits are "unlike anything I've ever seen before", which we think is pretty cool. 

Dad made portraits of me throughout my childhood. In this one, you can just see the tip of my little Jurassic Park t-shirt, and in the left lower corner there's me (now) reflected in a shard of mirror in the painting.

Dad made portraits of me throughout my childhood. In this one, you can just see the tip of my little Jurassic Park t-shirt, and in the left lower corner there's me (now) reflected in a shard of mirror in the painting.

I have always loved the colors of this painting. A few years ago, I asked Dad what he thought this painting meant. He said it was me, him, and Mum, in the moments before I was born. I love the idea of an abstract portrait, and I love that this is the first portrait made of me.  

I have always loved the colors of this painting. A few years ago, I asked Dad what he thought this painting meant. He said it was me, him, and Mum, in the moments before I was born. I love the idea of an abstract portrait, and I love that this is the first portrait made of me.  

Me, painting in the 90s, in my room, as photographed by Dad. I still like being low to the ground when I work, and I still have this easel, though it's been retired to display work. 

Me, painting in the 90s, in my room, as photographed by Dad. I still like being low to the ground when I work, and I still have this easel, though it's been retired to display work. 

This is the first portrait I made of myself (you've probably seen it already) that I considered art. It marked the beginning of my respecting myself enough to start thinking of myself as a painter, and as an artist good enough to become a collaborator with my Dad.  "Constellations" hung in the Martha Gault Art Gallery in Slippery Rock, PA. 

 

We take on an average of five collaborative commissions per calendar year together, which is one every couple of months. So, if you're interested in us creating a painting for you, know that our time is limited, all our paintings start with a photograph (usually taken by Cari), and know that it takes a few months to complete a single piece. Your total investment depends on the scope of the project you wish to complete with us, but in all cases we require a $500 deposit to begin. (This deposit is used towards your painting, and is not an additional fee.) To start a painting, answer a few questions here, you'll get something fun just for inquiring wink wink.

Folks posing with paintings of themselves at our art exhibit, 'The Intersection of Painting and Photography' at Sertoma in Raleigh, NC. 


 

From Instagram

 

Happenings from my studio. Instagram is the place I share my experiments. I'm learning to draw "properly" and I do lots of things like paint with beer brewing ingredients just to see what happens. Instagram is where I share all that.

 

 

From the Blog

Honestly, I don't blog a lot. But, I like to tell stories, and I feel every painting has a story, that I will eventually get around to telling. Here's what little there is so far; I like these.

You are the most important part of my paintings, because you're the reason they are started.

Some people commission painting(s) for a specific space on their walls, or to commemorate and remember a special occasion, others enjoy the self-discovery of being seen through art. Whatever your reason, thank you. I made these posters for you, to help keep you motivated on your journey as a work of art.

Me, your portrait painter and your partner in storytelling art. 

Me, your portrait painter and your partner in storytelling art. 

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If you're ready to start a new commission, begin your journey (click) here.