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Diana Madaras and her Spirit Animal Collection

Diana Madaras and her Spirit Animal Collection

Posted by John Wolfe on 13th Feb 2020

Artist Diana Madaras says, "Painting fills me with joy."

She is equally well known for her bold, colorful Southwest art as for her generous charitable giving.

Diana owns the gallery in Tucson, Arizona that features her work, and she is president of the non-profit Art for Animals Foundation, a charity she founded in 1999 to help abused, injured, and orphaned animals.

She is a colorist who celebrates the subtle, natural beauty of ordinary scenes in a way that is both intense and dramatic. She paints in both watercolor and acrylic and has a diverse portfolio — from brilliant desert landscapes to expressionistic portraits.

Her new Spirit Animal Collection tells the story of Diana’s deep connection to animals, a recurrent passion throughout her life.

Growing up, Diana lived in an apartment attached to her dad’s veterinary hospital and loved watching him care for animals. As a child, Diana helped out where she could, from filling pet prescriptions to working as her father’s surgical nurse when she was in college.

When people dropped off abandoned wild birds, squirrels, or rabbits, Diana fed them and provided the care they needed. From a young age, she always had great compassion for these injured animals and prayed for magical healing powers to ease their suffering.

Her charity has raised $200,000 for animal causes in Southern Arizona. In 2017 she also served as the chair of the Tucson Wildlife Center fundraiser.

Diana is never afraid to venture into the unknown by exploring new mediums and painting techniques.

The Spirit Animals are painted on Yupo paper using a watercolor technique Diana learned while studying with artist Mark Mahaffey.

Yupo is a very slick, non-absorbent paper which does not allow the paint to soak in, rather it sits on the surface until dry. The wet paint colors flow together in random and unexpected ways.

In this series, Diana did not begin by mapping out the animal on paper with pencil as she usually does. Instead, she let the Spirit Animals gradually emerge as the colors moved spontaneously.

Watercolor on Yupo is the most difficult medium to control. It affords unexpected surprises and frustrations, and conversely, gives the painting a fresh and unique look.

There are 5 things the Spirit Animals have in common — all have a black sky, all have a moon and stars, all are painted on Yupo paper, all are named after song titles, and all have a tattoo.

Visit Diana at Sibley's West between 6 and 8 pm Friday, Feb. 21.