Born in the Blue Ridge Mountains, in Alma near Stanley, Virginia, as the only son of a farmer family - his ancestors were all farmers. His parents allowed him to develop his artistic potential instead of forcing him into their way of living and supplied him with paint, brushes and also fine art training.
Quaintance moved to New York in his early twenties where he started to work for several different advertising firms. Later on he moved to Los Angeles and his beautiful art started to attract peoples attention. Even though he also painted a lot of young good looking athletes who posed for him nude it is said that Quaintance often preferred to use himself as a model for his paintings. In 1937, he was the highest-paid illustrator for Gay French magazine, earning more than $50,000.
In 1938, he spent an extended time in his hometown with his new lover, a handsome young native Puerto Rican named Victor Garcia. Garcia became the artist's model, life partner, and business associate until Quaintance's untimely death, despite the coming and going of several other handsome young Hispanic lovers. Victor was the first of a series of Latino lovers. One of his boyfriends was Eduardo, and he presented him, a Mexican , as an Apache because, as one paramour observed, it was "more glamorous."
His paintings and illustration are found on the covers and in the pages of most of the seminal physique and body-building magazines of the 1940s and 1950s, such as Physique Pictorial, Body Beautiful and Demi-Gods.
Quaintance worked for Lon of New York and for Bob Mizer, of LA's Athletic Model Guild, eventually opening his own studios in Los Angeles and later in Phoenix, Arizona.
He became famous for his work for the physique magazines in the 1950's. He moved to a ranch in Phoenix where he was surrounded by beautiful cowboys and Latino lovers. The Western scenery had always been his favorite and he produced many of his most beautiful paintings while living on the ranch.
Quaintance was the first artist to eroticize Levi's, long before they became an icon of American culture or an emblem of one's sexuality. Quaintance also fetishized the cowboy look, effecting it himself in his later years, almost as if in anticipation of the cowboy's later assimilation into gay culture. And before politics knew the difference between correct and incorrect, Quaintance's paintings celebrated Mexican, Native American and Central American peoples and images.
There are about 60 oil paintings by Quaintance existing in the hands of private collectors and museums today and the value of these paintings are almost priceless.
Quaintance was also a professionally trained dancer who performed, onstage, everything from classic ballet to tap and the tango. He wrote and produced plays and talent shows in his native Page County, Virginia
Quaintance died in a Los Angeles hospital of a heart-attack on his 55th birthday. Victor Garcia and Tom Syphers inherited Quaintance's estate.
His paintings today are so scarce and highly desired, they pass from collector to eager collector without ever being offered on public art markets. His sculptures are even harder to find. And the photographs that he mass-produced and sold for $1.00 each through his mail-order business now fetch even $1500. John John Waybright and his co-author, Ken Furtado of Phoenix, AZ, are doing research to locate all Quaintance's works.