Carrie Dinah-Rivah depicts Pacific Northwest wildlife in vibrant large-scale paintings. She identifies with the spiritualism and motifs of the Northwest School of Painters, blending abstraction and form in dreamlike layers. She captures the essence of animals and plants with the same skill she used in her career as a portrait painter.
How Carrie gets her ideas for paintings:
A gentleman smiling warmly at me as he passed me on a NYC sidewalk... wearing a black velvet blazer with gold embroidered dragonflies,
A woman in a hot tub in Vancouver revealing that her deceased aunt visited her in the form of a dragonfly,
A friend describes the smells and sounds of Austin, TX in the
summer, and especially how grackles would call out and look right in your eyes as you passed by...
These stories present themselves in mysterious and amazing ways - whether a dream, an odd encounter, superstition, or extreme coincidence. These stories become paintings.
Zocalo, First Thursday Art Walk, Pioneer Square,Seattle
Northwest Academy for the Healing Arts, Seattle, - LMT 2019
University at Buffalo Law School; Buffalo, NY - Juris Doctorate 2010
Wayne State University; Detroit, MI - BFA 2007
I am formally trained in painting, with a BFA from Wayne State University in Detroit. Kristin Beaver, then an adjunct professor, is the person I credit with teaching me to paint. You can see her work here. Her large-scale figurative work is incredible. You may see some of her influence in my brushwork and paint handling (at least I hope so!).
It was in college that I fell in love with portrait painting. Portrait work was a great fit because I had the technical expertise and I was effortlessly able to capture the “essence” of my subject. I’ve painted judges, jazz musicians, my favorite actors from 1970’s kung fu movies, friends and family, candid paintings of people - no one was safe. In the years prior to my current body of work I specialized in mixed media children’s portraits.
A Note from the Artist:
Here's the story about how I started painting animals a few years ago:
A few years back I wanted to give something special to a dear friend who helped me through a difficult and heartbreaking point in my life. I knew his office was decorated with dozens of pictures of white horses. I asked him what the connection was with these horses, and he told me about recurring dreams he’s had since childhood of riding a white horse. Naturally, I painted him white horses emerging from a vivid, dreamy background. The piece was drying on my easel when some friends stopped by. One friend in particular was a collector of contemporary Pacific Northwest painters and he offered to buy the piece. In that moment I realized why he responded to that particular piece - I was channeling the spirit of my dear friend for whom I painted it. The wild horses I painted for him captured his essence more than even a portrait ever could.
The horses I painted for my friend had a primal quality. People have since remarked that my work is reminiscent of cave paintings, and I couldn’t agree more. The animals I paint are egregores in that they connect with the viewer on a universal subconscious level. This connection is what makes my paintings unique.
I started experimenting and playing with the idea of painting wild animals. I asked friends what their favorite animal was and why. I painted lots of horses, then owls, vultures, buffaloes, moose, and on and on - each one inspired by a friend’s answer to my question. The paintings became less about the animal, and more and more about why the animal resonated with the person.
I showed the first series of wild animal paintings in 2017. People responded to the work with wild, wonderful, mysterious stories that connected the viewer with the painting. Complete strangers would see my work and tell me things they never told anyone else. For example, one woman told me how she was sure that her beloved grandmother, who passed on, visited her in the form of a dragonfly. One man bought an owl painting because it represented his choice to live free from his family’s superstitions and confining beliefs. Another collector who purchased a painting of a coyote told me that a coyote once visited him in a dream and warned him about the betrayal of close person.
This is all to say, I don’t choose the subjects of my paintings. The idea for each and every painting comes from a story told to me about someone’s connection to an animal. I paint that connection between animal and human. Thus, I have come to believe that animals are messengers. In a sense, I consider myself as much a translator as I am a painter. When we are open to hearing their message, we become open to all that is mysterious.
I live in the Magnolia neighborhood in Seattle, which is incredibly supportive of the local arts community. The shops in Magnolia village host monthly Art Walks and the the Magnolia Art Experience (MAX) organization works tirelessly to foster and support the local art scene. I show my work regularly at Modele’s in Magnolia. Deb Bluestein and her crew are my favorite people to work with, and I consider myself blessed to have them in my life. My work is shown at Modele’s alongside museum quality pieces, and the devoted clientele includes some of the most discerning collectors in the city.
I paint in my home studio in Seattle. My home has huge south-facing windows. My lovely dog, Scarlett, is the best sidekick anyone could ever ask for. If you look at the “behind the scenes” photos, you’ll see her in quite a few pictures.
I am committed to sourcing materials from local Seattle businesses. Dunn Lumber is where I buy the birch panels that I paint on. These panels are perfect for my painting style - they support infinite layers of paint, colored pencils, artist crayons, and pastel - I can even scratch into the surface to reveal hidden layers of color and texture. My paints, pastels, crayons, colored pencils come from Daniel Smith in SODO and Artist & Craftsman in the U District. Seattle is a great place to be an artist in so many ways!