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About Suzanne

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.

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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. 

“Ripple” is constructed of 160 discs floating off the wall, and focuses on the subtle color shifts and patterns of ripples. It was largely influenced by travels in Indonesia and finding tumbled smooth beach stones in subtle grey-blue-green tones. I am interested in percept and the quick formation of visual information in the brain before the viewer is entirely conscious of it. 

I have attempted to enhance the perception of movement by subtly projecting the disc shapes at varying distances from the wall. Painted tonal shifts and the shifting levels of each piece casting overlapping soft shadows also enhance the suggestion of movement. I have painted a large pale aqua rectangle behind the “Ripple” series with the intention of creating a wall installation that at first glance may appear to be a painting of circles, rather than painted circular objects.


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.


When I use the classic encaustic process (molten wax with resin & pigment) I label these paintings ‘encaustic’. When I paint with oil paints mixed with a cold wax medium I call these ‘oil/wax’ paintings. When the oil & wax 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 my encaustics and my oil/wax paintings have a somewhat similar appearance. Though technically encaustic means ‘burning-in’, I feel that these two types of paintings 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 & resin, the paintings are actually different in their ingredients, process, appearance and longevity.


For more information on the encaustic process, read Ralph Meyer's The Artist's Handbook, and The Art of Encaustic Painting by Joanne Mattera.

Article about my work in Western Arts and Architecture

Suzanne Truman CV

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