Up Close: Diane Kraus

Lending a helping paintbrush …

Diane Kraus fell in love in the summer of 2012 with a warm, fuzzy face. The 35-year-old Moscow artist helped save the life of Sam, a handsome cat that was living in a colony that had been abandoned when a trailer park closed, forcing all the residents to relocate. Kraus felt adoption wasn’t the only thing she could do for Sam and his feline buddies. She started a fundraiser on indiegogo.com called “Sam’s Friends,” an art driven campaign to help raise money for The Northeastern Pennsylvania Animal Adoption Network. An accomplished artist who has done commissioned pieces for The Civil Air Patrol as well as online gaming communities, Kraus is accepting donations through the “Sam’s Friends” project and offering different art packages in return. From Sam’s face on a postcard to a pastel drawing or an oil painting of your own pet, Kraus is hard at work in her art room turning out portraits of Fluffys or Fidos. She found her passion in helping out the purring. Meet Diane Kraus…


When did you realize you wanted to be an artist?
In 2009, I decided to go into art professionally and finally said, “This is really it. I’m not going to listen to anybody else and I’m not going to worry about failing.” Before then, it had always been very hard for me to say, “I’m going to be an artist,” especially because I’m not from an artistic family. People don’t understand that art is everywhere. I decided two years ago that art is what I’m doing and I have to keep getting better and keep my art out there.

How do you balance life and art?
A lot of people ask how I make myself work. They key for me has been doing things that I am genuinely interested in. When I was doing graphic design, I would have to twist my own arm to sit down and work on a logo. Every day, I get to a point where I do all of these chores, emails and networking and then I have to work. I work for hours and really concentrate until I can’t work on it anymore. Then the next day, the progress you made the day before motivates you to do even more. Finishing a painting feels so good; to have the client be happy motivates you to do the next one. What is the next challenge someone is going to give me and how do I make it come to fruition and make them happy?

Who are some of your influences?
I am very classically based. My first love is going to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and going to the European classical arts. Pierre-Paul Prud’hon. I walked into the Met in 1998 and saw this gigantic wall-sized painting of this female figure with wings. I was just bowled over. I love Neo- Classical painters, Renaissance painters like Da Vinci and Raphael, but also Norman Rockwell because he creates a scene and tells a story. To have that narrative aspect with a classical aesthetic is what I really aim for; to have it look beautiful and still tell a story.

Your influences are classic, but you are also influenced by modern gaming as well.
The gaming world is really interesting. It’s a huge well of inspiration. I happened to start playing World of Warcraft seven years ago and I became involved in a role playing community. All of these people were writing about their characters and drawing pictures — I never knew anything like this existed. I had been writing stories and drawing pictures of my characters since I was 11 years old, so I was like, “Where have you people been all of my life?” People started asking me to draw their characters. Once people started paying me for them, it was terrific! It’s very exciting to always have that as a resource for inspiration.

Talk about your current fundraising project “Sam’s Friends.”
There is a wonderful rescue group called the Northeast Pennsylvania Animal Adoption Network. They do tremendous work rescuing cats that are on the street; the kind of cats you don’t think about or maybe see run across your backyard. They take these cats in. There was a mobile home park that closed down and a bunch of cats were left inside trailers. They were starving to death and hurting each other, fighting for food. NEPA AAN traps the cats, gets them spayed and neutered, places them in foster homes and tries to help every cat. They asked if someone could give Sam a home and he was the one cat I was going to draw. Anytime you draw something, you make a connection with it. After I took him home, I spoke to the rescuers and found out how they worked and their passion about it. I woke up one day and decided to see what I could do for them; I will draw pictures for donations. I had an Indiegogo fundraiser up in a week. I now have a whole list of pictures of cats I have to draw. I don’t know where this is going to go because I like the idea of using art to raise money and awareness. If you would like to help get Sam’s friends off the street, my cat would appreciate it and I would to.

How does it work?
There are different levels — $12 gets you a postcard with Sam’s picture on it; $20 gets you a print; $35 gets a picture of your own cat and so on. I’ll paint any pet; dogs, horses, birds, guinea pigs. It doesn’t matter. It’s your best friend; it’s your pet. Once people donate, I contact them and we talk about the details. They send photos and I do the drawing, painting or pastel and I send it to them. I’m really enjoying the momentum, getting these pictures out there and letting people see what they are getting in return for helping animals.

What are your hopes for the project?
We would like to meet our $3,000 goal. That money would really help the rescue effort and also raise awareness for what NEPA AAN is doing and what animal rescues are doing all over the place. These people are going out and trapping animals and getting them off the streets and giving them homes. Donors get beautiful artwork too. And I love drawing animals. It’s really relaxing.
tom graham

Visit www.indiegogo.com and search “Sam’s Friends” to donate. You can also visit www.Dekraus.com to see Kraus’s  portfolio and blog.

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  • CG

    Wonderful article! Thank you, Diane for all of your hard work to help our animal friends. NEPA AAN is a wonderful organization that helps street cats become lap cats. Your use of artistic talents to help this group is surely a win-win! Thank you!

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