Suzanne Truman | Biography

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Media Description: Encaustic on Panel

"All spring, I watched the rising blue-green grass,
above it's gleaming and substantial shadows,
toss in the breeze,
like wings."

---- Mary Oliver


Suzanne Truman was born In Phoenix, Arizona; raised on farms and ranches in Arizona and California until her Family moved to Kentucky when she was 15. She returned west after attending a year at The University of Kentucky. She worked in Yellowstone National Park and lived in Hawaii for three years before migrating to the Rocky Mountains to finish her art degree in Bozeman. From there Suzanne moved to Missoula, Montana to complete her MFA, in painting. After graduate school she taught backcountry field courses in Alaska and along the Rio Grande and Big Bend National Park for two years. She went on to teach painting and drawing at The University of Montana-Western and Montana State University for the next seven years. Presently, Suzanne lives with her husband and their cat in Bozeman, Montana. The open west, and a sense of place, continue to strongly influence her paintings.

Nature offers a myriad of sensations and awakens a sense of discovery when one is "exploring" their surroundings . Colors and textures inspire a lyrical essence of story. Engaging my senses and becoming absorbed in my surroundings elicits a sense of wonder. Robin's egg blue sky, indigo nights, aqua seas, red rock canyons; vermilion, azure, sienna, and viridian patinas of lichen covered rocks - These visual and emotional experiences inform my paintings. Thus, the exterior landscape fuels my interior landscape (psyche, mind's eye, soul).

While painting, I strive to use the elements of an additive and subtractive process in a harmonious way, to evoke a metaphorical aspect of my natural surroundings. As the surface evolves, I sand, scrape and scratch back into the multi-painted layers. By intuitively responding to emerging images I feel that I am both weaving and unraveling a "story". I seek to reveal this "discovery" through each finished painting. (When complete, I hope to have images that look as if they're found objects. That is why I conceal my brush strokes). For myself, these paintings function as a tiny aspect of the wonder felt in "The Land" that can not be explicitly ( realistically ) represented. In turn, I hope these abstract images stir the "interior landscape" of each viewer to inspire their own sense of discovery.

Suzanne Truman's Encaustic Process...

According to Ralph Meyer's excerpt in The Artist's Handbook, his traditional encaustic description states, "Encaustic or hot wax painting comes down to us from ancient Greece where it was a major creative art process for both easel and mural painting. It is perhaps the earliest formal easel-painting method, and it shares with the ancient process of fresco a certain fundamental purity.

Its use was displaced by other mediums with the developing and changing requirements of European art so that during the medieval and Renaissance periods it was a genuine lost art. During the eighteenth century, mural painters sought a new material that would give permanent results under drastic conditions, especially dampness; wax seemed to fill these requirements and the reputed excellence of the ancient Greek process offered a goal to artists and scholars; and so, by means of literary research, a revival of encaustic began. This work, which continued through the nineteenth century, is well documented, and today we have not only the ancient sources but also 200 years of records to guide us in our current revival.

The classic encaustic method consists of painting on any ground or surface with paints made by mixing dry pigments with molten white refined beeswax plus a variable percentage of resin (usually dammar varnish), working from a warm palette. Warming and chilling the surface can also assist the brush or palette knife manipulations. A final heat treatment, or burning in (which is the meaning of the name encaustic) by passing a heat source over the surface, fuses and bonds the painting into a permanent form without altering it, and a light polishing with soft cotton brings out a satiny sheen. When cool, the picture is finished; no further change ever takes place."

Suzanne Truman declares, "Sometimes I use the classic encaustic method. I label these paintings "encaustic". Most times I paint with oil paints mixed with a wax medium. When these paintings are dry I 'fuse' them, or 'burn in', with a heat gun. This stage is the same as the 'burning in' (or fusing) process applied in classic encaustic painting. This is also why both my encaustic paintings and my oil/wax paintings look similar. Even though technically encaustic means 'burning in', I feel that the two types of paintings I do should be labeled separately because the oil/wax paintings are not created from a molten palette, and because by using oil paint rather than molten wax and dry pigment, the paintings are actually different in their ingredients.

Artist Statement

My work is process oriented and concerned with series and structure, and interpreting colors, patterns and textures from nature - including objects eroded and worn by nature - onto constructed surfaces in a complex minimal layering of oil paint with wax medium or encaustic paint. My oil/wax paintings are usually on larger canvases and my encaustic paintings are on smaller handmade wooden boxes with deep sides. I arrange these on the wall in series of three to 20, as sets, usually as triptychs or in grids of 9, 16 or 20. Sometimes I place an individual box/painting alone on a large wall to magnify the/objectness of the painting. Recently, I have been working in larger series of different configurations. Both of the "Color & Light" series consist of many small encaustic box paintings conceptually arranged as an installation to convey a sense of rhythm and play of light between the paintings. "Rhythm & Pattern" also plays with syncopation but with more overt colors and patterns in the individual panels. The visual elements in these installations are distilled from nature, while the arrangement and the forms reflect modern-world construction.

While painting, I strive to use the elements of an additive and subtractive process in a harmonious way to evoke a metaphorical aspect of the natural world and the play of light in the wide-open spaces of the American West. As the surface evolves, I sand, scrape and scribe back into the painted strata. By intuitively responding to emerging imagery, my intent is to reveal minimal abstractions suggestive of the cumulative effects of natural events that shape the land, and objects therein, over time. The exterior landscape thus fuels my interior landscape and these paintings serve as essences that can not be explicitly represented. In turn, I hope they stir the "interior landscape" of the viewer and inspire their own sense of visual exploration.



1996, MFA Painting, University of Montana, Missoula, MT

1992, BA with honors in Printmaking, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT


2014 Holter Art Museum, Helena, MT (forthcoming installation)

2013 Visions West, Denver, CO (forthcoming)

2011 Turman Larison Contemporary, 2-person w/Ralph Wiegmann, Helena, MT

Reese Bullen Gallery, "Sequent," 2-person exhibition w/Ralph Wiegmann, Humbolt State
University, Arcata, CA

2010 "Color & Light," Ecce Gallery, in the Emerson Cultural Center, Bozeman, MT

2009 The Cerulean Gallery, 2-person: main floor w/Ralph Wiegmann, Dallas, TX

2008 The Cerulean Gallery, 2-person: main floor w/Xan Sinclaire, "Inner Section," Dallas, TX

2007 Botanica Fine Art, Bozeman, MT

2006 Bealle Park Art Center, (Peppo's sculpture in N. gallery), Bozeman, MT

2005 Oil & Encaustic Paintings", Botanica Fine Art, Bozeman, MT

2004 "Featured Artist", Stellers Gallery, Jacksonville, FL

2003 "12 New Paintings", Botanica Fine Art, Bozeman, MT

2002 "Oils and Encaustics", The Pound Gallery, Seattle, WA

2001 "New Paintings", Botanica Fine Art, Bozeman, MT

2000 "New Oil Paintings, Botanica Fine Art, Bozeman, MT

1999 "Dichotomy", Hockaday Art Museum", Kalispell, MT

"Art on Site", Hockaday Art Museum sponsored, Columbia Falls, MT

1998 Cordell Taylor Gallery, Salt Lake City, UT

1997 "Walking & Falling", University Center Gallery, Univ. of Montana, Missoula, MT

1996 "Mixed Metaphors", thesis show, Gallery of Visual Art, UM-Missoula, MT

1995 "Second to the Last Judgment", Art Annex Gallery, UM-Missoula, MT

"Drowning In Flame", The Crystal Theater, Missoula, MT

1994 "Food For Thought", Food For Thought Caf�, Missoula, MT

1992 "Manipulated Polaroids", The Valley, Ellensburg, WA

1991 "Manipulated Polaroids", The Exit Gallery, MSU-Bozeman, MT


2012 Visions West Denver, group holiday exhibition, Denver, CO

Visions West, holiday exhibition, Bozeman, MT
Copeland Gallery, faculty exhibition, MSU - Bozeman, MT

2011 Visions West Gallery, "Montana Avante Garde" w/Ted Waddell & others, Bozeman, MT
Turman Larison Contemporary, summer group exhibition, Helena, MT

2010 Holter Art Museum, "Double Vision: partners in art", w/Ralph Wiegmann
(& other artist partners), Helena, MT

Hayden Hays Gallery @ the Broadmoor Hotel, Colorado Springs, CO

Turman-Larison Contemporary, 10th anniversary invitational, Helena, MT

Danforth Gallery, ShackUp Design/Stephanie Sandston curated, Livingston, MT

2009 "14th Annual Los Angeles Art Show", w/Stewart Gallery, Los Angeles, CA

The Cerulean Gallery, (main floor w/Ralph Wiegmann), opens May 15th, Dallas, TX

Missoula Art Museum, contemporary art auction, Missoula, MT

Fay Gold Gallery, gallery representation until gallery closed 3/31/09, Atlanta, GA

2008 Missoula Art Museum, "Encaustics Invitational", 6 artists, Missoula, MT

The Cerulean Gallery, (main floor gallery w/Xan Sinclaire) "Inner Section", Dallas, TX

Fay Gold Gallery, "Gallery Artists", summer exhibition, Atlanta, GA

Stewart Gallery, "Summer Exhibition", Boise, ID

Turman-Larison Contemporary, w/Tom Ferris and Jim Madden, Helena, MT

"Contemporary Montana Artists of the Waller-Yoblonsky Collection", in conjunction with a

Museum of the Rockies lecture; ShackUp Design, Bozeman, MT

Stewart Gallery, "Winter Exhibition", Boise, ID

Gallery representation, Botanica Fine Art, Bozeman, MT

2007 "Art Now", Art Fair, with Stewart Gallery, Miami Beach, FL

"Affair at the Jupiter", Jupiter Hotel Art Fair, w/Stewart Gallery, Portland, OR

Fay Gold Gallery, winter group exhibition, Atlanta, GA

UM-Western Art Museum, "Nature of Abstraction", Dillon, MT

Stewart Gallery, grand opening of new gallery, Boise, ID

2007 Missoula Art Museum, contemporary art auction, Missoula, MT

2006 Fresh Paint Art Advisors, "Spring Exhibition", Culver City, CA

"Here & Now", Self Enhancement Organization, fundraiser for inner-city

after school programs, Portland, OR

The Danforth Gallery, Livingston, MT

Gallatin River Gallery, summer & fall shows, Big Sky, MT

Nicolaysen Art Museum, "Wild Wild West", small works invitational, Casper, WY

2005 Nicolaysen Art Museum, Mountains-Plains juried art auction, Casper, WY

The Danforth Gallery, Christmas Show, Livingston, MT

Nicolaysen Art Museum, "Wild Wild West", small works invitational, Casper, WY

2004 "Toxic Landscapes", Puffin Foundation's traveling exhibition, Long Island

Foundation for Arts and Sciences Gallery, Loveladies, NJ

UM Art Museum, juried art auction, Missoula, MT

Museum of the Rockies, faculty show, Bozeman, MT

"Mountains West Contemporary Art Auction", juried, MSU-Bozeman, MT

2003 Lisa Harris Gallery, "artists shown or represented", Seattle, WA

"Art of The New West", Dahl Arts Center, juried, Rapid City, SD

"MSU Collects", Copeland Gallery, MSU-Bozeman, MT

"Mountains West Contemporary Art Auction", juried, MSU-Bozeman, MT

Yellowstone Art Museum, 34th Annual Art Auction, Billings, MT

2002 "Toxic Landscapes", Puffin Foundation's traveling exhibition, El Reino del Mundo

Galleria en la Biblioteca Nacional Jose Marti, Havana, CUBA

"Seven Artists", Stewart Gallery, Boise, ID

"Small Works, Yellowstone Art Museum, Billings, MT

University of Montana Art Museum, juried art auction, Missoula, MT

Mountains West Contemporary Art Auction", juried, MSU-Bozeman, MT

2001 "Toxic Landscapes", Puffin Foundation's traveling exhibition,

Rachel Carson Institute, Pittsburgh, PA;

Puffin Foundation Cultural Center, Teaneck, NJ

"Large Show of Small Works", juried, Elizabeth Foundation for The Arts,

award in painting, New York, NY

"Womens' Show", Stewart Gallery, Boise, ID

Nicolaysen Art Museum, "Wild Wild West", small works invitational, Casper, WY


Ochi Gallery, gallery representation, Ketchum, ID

2000 "Alternative Processes", juried, Quai School of Fine Art, Wanganui, New Zealand

"Contemporary Montana Artists", Affinity Fine Art, Palm Springs, CA

"New Voices New Visions", Gallery Bergelli, Larkspur, CA

Western New Mexico University Art Gallery, faculty exchange, Silver City, NM

UM-Western Art Gallery, faculty show, Dillon, MT

"40 Freedoms", invitational, UM Art Museum, Missoula, MT

1999 Hockaday Art Museum, juried art auction, Kalispell, MT

1998 Brunswick Studios, 25th annual Christmas show, Missoula, MT

"Language of Ecofeminism", invitational, University Center Gallery, Missoula, MT


Guggenheim Museum, "Artist Viewing Program" (of slides), New York, NY

1996 Gallery of Visual Art, juried student exhibition, Best of Show, 2D, UM-Missoula, MT.

International Wildlife Film Festival Invitational, Blue Empress Gallery, Missoula, MT

"AIDS and ART", benefit exhibition, The Catalyst, UM-Missoula, MT

1995 Gallery of Visual Art, juried student exhibition, UM-Missoula, MT. Merit Award.

"AIDS and ART", benefit exhibition, Art Annex Gallery, UM-Missoula, MT

1994 "AIDS and ART", benefit exhibition, Black Dog Cafe, Missoula, MT

1992 Helen Copeland Gallery, senior thesis show, MSU-Bozeman, MT

1991 "Four Women Four Non-Traditional Mediums", Danforth Gallery, Livingston, MT


The Cancer Treatment Center, Charleston, SC

Spink, Butler and Clapp, LLP, Boise, ID

John Madden

David Quammen

Dr. David Sands, Bozeman, MT

Bananas Bar, interior murals, 2 locations, Lexington, KY

Kevin Technologies, Corp, Birmingham, AL

Ponte Vedre Inn, Jacksonville, FL

Nicolaysen Art Museum, Casper, WY

University of Montana Fine Arts Museum, Missoula, MT

Hammer Ranch, Manhattan, MT

High Plains Films, Missoula, MT

Vootie Productions, Bozeman, MT


Catalog: Missoula Art Museum, "Contemporary Art Auction", Missoula, MT, 2009

Dallas Modern Luxury, "Calendar Visual Arts", featured image, March 2008, p.36

Calendar: Missoula Art Museum, image on July page, Missoula, MT, 2008

Catalog: Missoula Art Museum, "Contemporary Art Auction", Missoula, MT, 2007

This Week, "Oils, encaustics by Suzanne Truman", Big Sky Publishing, Fri. Sept 23, 2005

Catalog: Museum of the Rockies, MSU Faculty Exhibition, Bozeman, MT 2004

Source + Design, "Color and Scale", illustrated article on Hammer Ranch w/my large painting w/Debbie Butterfield horse sculpture, November/December, p.52, 2003

At Home, "In the Studio with Artist Suzanne Truman", vol. 4 no.13, Dec 30, 2003

Catalog: Stellers Gallery, Jacksonville, FL

Seattle Weekly, preview, Seattle, WA; Nov 1st-7th, 2002

Art Access, illustrated preview, Seattle WA; vol. 11 no. 10, p. 26, November, 2002

The Stranger, illustrated preview, Seattle, WA; vol. 12 no. 7, Oct 31- Nov 6, 2002

The Collegian, "Hotbed of Contemporary Artists", illustrated interview, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT; vol. 79 no.2, Aug 2002

Catalog: "Paisajes Toxicos", artists examinan el ambiente, Plaza de la Revolucion, Jose Marti Biblioteca Nacional, La Habana, Cuba, 2002

Catalog: Yellowstone Art Museum 34th Annual Art Auction, Billings, MT 2002

Catalog: University of Montana Fine Arts Museum, art auction, Missoula, MT, 2002

This Week, "Artist's Work in Cuba Show", Big Sky Publishing, Fri. Jun 21, 2002

Catalog: Large Show of Small Work Award Winners, National Association of Women in the Arts, New York, NY, 2001

The Tributary, illustrated interview, Bozeman, MT; Nov 2001

"Hot Picks", illustrated review, Salt Lake City Weekly, Aug 20, 1998

North Woods Vision: cover, Maine, vol. 6 NL. 1998

The Networker: cover, Alliance for the Wild Rockies, vol. 9 no.3 1997

Cutbank 44: illustrated literary review, interior drawings, University of Montana Press, 1995

Camas: cover, environmental writers journal, Missoula, MT. Winter 1995

The Networker: rear cover, Alliance for the Wild Rockies, vol. 7, 1995

High Country News, rear cover, illustrated review of Ground Zero artists' performance, vol. 27 no. 19, 1995