By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
For Tucson artist Diana Madaras, 2018 is about revival.
She recently spent two weeks at White Stallion Ranch on a painting retreat to create artwork for her miniatures show in March at the Madaras Gallery. This summer, she’ll return to the country that kickstarted her career: Greece.
“I never knew I would be an artist,” says Madaras, who worked in sports marketing for 18 years. “I enjoyed painting a lot. I always had a lot of creative yearning. I painted when I was younger, but I started painting again after a trip to the Bahamas.
“Then, a professor at UA was taking a trip to Greece and he said, ‘You’re coming with us.’ He talked me into it and it altered me. I came back and three years later, I sold my (sports marketing) company and became a full-time artist.”
After 25 years, Madaras is return to Greece with “him”—Chuck Albanese. She and Albanese will paint for three weeks in Greece. A guest artist at Madaras Gallery, Albanese taught Madaras how to paint with watercolors during the inspirational trip.
Madaras shares her talents through her gallery, which also regularly hosts shows. February’s exhibition is Lauri Kaye’s Tucson Portrait Stories. The artist’s reception is 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, February 11.
The show is an ongoing series of mixed-media drawings on brushed metal. It illuminates the people, places and events of Tucson.
“She puts the story below the painting,” she says. “It’s included on the metal.”
Madaras is careful about who she invites as guest artists. She may see artwork when she’s out and then invites the artist to show.
“Mostly it’s from work that I’ve become familiar with,” she says.
The joys of her career show in her voice and facial expressions. She may love painting, but she also gets a “kick out of meeting the customers who buy the paintings.”
“Everybody has a story,” she says. “I do a lot of commissions. One couple brought in a cockatoo to be painted. We did a photo session and I thought the woman would want a small painting of the bird. She wanted a 30 by 40. It’s a huge painting.”
At the end of the shoot, the client handed her a bag of feathers so Madaras could accurately represent the color.
“When I came home, my husband said, ‘Why don’t you put the feathers in the painting?’ I thought it was a great idea.
“I called her and asked what she thought. She loved the idea and said, ‘Why don’t you put her first eggshell in the painting?’ I didn’t know how I was going to do it, but it worked out.”
She used the feathers as leaves, and the eggshells as texture on the branch.
“We had a big reveal at a gallery opening and the husband just broke down and started crying,” Madaras says.
“It’s totally heartwarming and fulfilling. If I can paint and bring other people joy by doing something joyful for me, then there’s nothing better and I’m doing my job.”
3035 N. Swan Road