Suzy Kitman: Living Images

By Morgan Madison

Below, Green Apple on Yellow, oil on wood box by Suzy Kitman.

North Portland artist Suzy Kitman has a New York flair and speaks candidly about her passion and process. In order to be successful, she says: “You have to find the medium that engages your brain and your heart.” Through a winding career that has taken her from New York to Montana and ultimately Portland she has found her medium to be painting. Her portraits, in particular, readily show the connection between logic and emotion by being technically sound and layered with nuance and feeling. The results are revealing about human nature and offer an engaging glimpse into the unique personalities of her subjects.

Though Suzy has grown into an accomplished portrait painter, she is as surprised as anyone that this is the case. Born to creative parents, she grew up in the New York area and was focused on the arts from an early age, but came to painting a bit later. She went to Kenyon College in Ohio where she received a BA in art, studying drawing, print and photography. From there she returned to New York and experimented with a variety of careers including; graphic design, catering and illustration. One of her most formative endeavors, though, was working at the Met as a patina artist.

Being in the presence of master work and a museum environment stoked her interest in realism, and the careful eye she had to develop in order to re-create patinas was a natural catalyst for this burgeoning interest. Around this time Suzy also began to re-consider her use of materials. She experimented with painting and developed a passion for its hands on nature and a slow deliberate process. Further refinement of her approach occurred during her pursuit of an MFA at the University of Montana which culminated in her thesis exhibit: Night Flying Babies, an ethereal series of paintings that explore themes of power and freedom.

Below, Night Flying 4 Ellie, oil on canvas by Suzy Kitman.

Suzy is currently pursuing a number of different series which include: blushing and voluptuous fruits, doll still lifes and non-traditional portraits that convey personality in unexpected ways. Suzy has come to approach painting as a “meditation of seeing” and emphasizes the need to be wholly present and observant. This conscious decision has formed the core of her artistic personality, and it is readily apparent in the way her work honors its subjects.

Suzy’s work can be seen at The White Bird Gallery in Cannon Beach and through September 15th at the Albina Community Bank in St. Johns. She also shares her passion as an artist through teaching classes at the Multnomah Arts Center and the Portland Art Museum. It is an incomparable experience though to visit the artist at her studio in North Portland and actually see her works in progress and witness first-hand the passion she brings to the creation of her sensitive and insightful living images.

To see more of Suzy’s work, visit her web site at

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