The Story Behind the Spirit Animal Series

The Spirit Animals tell the story of Diana’s deep connection to animals –a recurrent passion throughout her life.

Fly Me to the Moon
by Diana Madaras
Watercolor on Yupo • Price: $3,750
Image Size: 20 x 26” • Framed Size: 34 x 40”
The coyote’s symbolism is associated with the deep magic of life and creation.

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.

Amazing Grace Eagle Watercolor

Amazing Grace
by Diana Madaras
Watercolor on Yupo • Price: $2,200
Image Size: 16 x 20” • Framed Size: 29 x 34”
The graceful soaring eagle represents honesty, truth, majesty, strength, courage, wisdom, power and freedom.

Today Diana continues to help animals in need. She supports a charity she founded (Art for Animals) that has raised $200,000 for animal causes in Southern Arizona. In 2017 she also served as the chair of the Tucson Wildlife Center fundraiser.

Jumping Jack Flash
by Diana Madaras
Watercolor on Yupo • Price: $1,850
Image Size: 13.5 x 20” • Framed Size: 23 x 30”
Seeing a jack rabbit is said to be a sign of good luck.

Diana’s Spirit Animals were partly inspired by the powerful animal images of John Nieto—one of the most well-known Native American painters and an artist represented by the Gallery. She had always admired Nieto’s bold use of color and strong composition, and is grateful for his contributions to the art world.  Diana was saddened to learn of Nieto’s passing this July when she heard the news from his son. While she had wanted to do a Spirit Animal series for years, John’s paintings finally provided the impetus.

Wildcat Original Acrylic John Nieto

by John Nieto
Original Acrylic Painting • Price:  $10,000
Image size:  24 x 30”
This is only the third wildcat Nieto has ever painted.

by Diana Madaras
Watercolor on Yupo • Price: $3,250
Image size: 18 x 24” • Framed Size: 27 x 31”
The wildcat is a powerful and beautiful animal --cunning, intellectual and playful.

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 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.

Blackbird Original Acrylic Painting

Blackbird singing in the Dead of Night
by Diana Madaras
Watercolor on Yupo  • Price: $1,250
Image size: 10 x 12” • Framed Size: 21 x 22”
As a dark and mysterious creature, blackbirds are associated with lunar symbolism.

At this point, you may have noticed a few fun themes throughout all of the Spirit Animals. 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. 

Preview all of the Spirit Animal Series here