A local artist is creating masterpieces in a very unique way after he fractured two vertebrae.
"About 15 years ago, I was in a diving accident in the Rio Grande," said Jared Dunten, who spoke with KVUE's Michael Perchick in his studio.
He fractured his C4 and C5 vertebrae, and has been quadriplegic since. Dunten comes from a family of artists, and did some artwork before his accident. After his injury, his mother encouraged him to get back into painting.
"Really, she was the one probably crammed a brush in my mouth to shut me up from complaining," joked Dunten.
Dunten took her advice and has gradually increased his workload. Over the past year, he took lessons to refine his skills. He typically completes 8-16 paintings in a year and holds two annual shows.
Dunten compares his process to that of a boxer.
"Every time I get in front of a canvas, it's like squaring off into the ring. All right, let's see how this one is going to go," said Dunten.
Dunten added his work now has a greater purpose.
"The idea behind starting painting and doing any of that was really to just bring some attention to people in wheelchairs," he said.
With the help of an assistant and his wife, who help mix paints and wash brushes, as well as adjust the canvas' position Dunten puts the paintbrush in his mouth, and paints away.
"If people that were going through a similar situation could find out that I left, continued to work, got married, had kids and life's still really pretty fantastic, then there's a lot to look forward to," said Dunten.
The paintings, both orchids, are titled C4 and C5 after the two vertebrae Dunten broke.
He hopes doctors will eventually find a cure to end paralysis.
"How do we get out of this? Like let's get (paralysis) over. Let's finish it. Let's move on to cancer, or ALS, or anything else but let's finish, and let's figure out how to get people out of wheelchairs," said Dunten.
He also helps others who are in similar situations.
"There's a lot of times and a lot of people that have contacted us, whether it's families or other therapists, or organizations, that ask questions about (painting with your mouth). You know we're always happy to go talk to someone that's recently injured, and say 'Look, there's a lot of stuff to look forward to,'" he said, saying he's feel fortunate to work with local organizations like Lone Star Paralysis Foundation in Austin. He donates his work to help raise money and awareness.
Go here for Dunten's website.