Meet Wesley Truman Daniel, artist with a colorful history

Top: Artist Wesley Truman Daniel is pictured working with acrylics over spray paint on “Prickly Hair,” which is part of a limited edition anthro-botanical series he began in 2022. Three 4ft x 2.5ft paintings remain from the series and can be viewed on his Instagram page Truman Daniel will lead a plein air painting event at the Harry S. Truman Little White House on April 12.
Bottom: Wesley Truman Daniel created the musically gifted grizzly “Chuck Beary” mural for a Chicago recording studio.

Wesley Truman Daniel is a Chicago-based professional artist, art instructor, and muralist. Along with being the descendant of a couple generations of artists, he’s the great-grandson of President Harry S. Truman, and on Friday, April 12, he will be in Key West to lead a “TRU-ly Amazing Art” series plein air painting experience and competition on the grounds of the Harry S. Truman Little White House.

Ahead of his arrival, the Windy City artist agreed to a pre-event “get to know you” Q&A session:

You are a multi-medium artist, working as a muralist with buildings as your canvas, sometimes working on a smaller scale with oils, and also proficient in graphic design. Would you describe yourself as a born artist or was it something that emerged over time?

I’ve always had good spatial awareness. My mom held onto a sketch I did when I was about 4 or 5 years old that I made of myself sitting in a room, sketching, but from behind, from the perspective of an observer. Rather than drawing only what I could see, I drew the whole environment. I would constantly doodle in school as well. I was not a proficient artist at first, but practiced every day. So I guess I was born drawn to art, but not a born artist. I had to learn to think creatively and build my skills.

What did your arts education look like?

I started as an architect major in high school but caught the acting bug and ending up pursuing acting and later getting a BFA in it. I always maintained an art practice through my life but didn’t return to art school until recently to get my Visual Arts teaching license. Most of my arts education was trial and error and YouTube videos.

When did you first begin perceive yourself as a professional?

I considered myself a professional once I started to sell work and get commissions. I had always sketched, but began painting right out of acting school in 2012. I started to get commissions through friends and that’s when I considered myself a professional. My girlfriend Maria, now my wife, was a huge reason I began painting. She saw my early work and pushed me to expand my practice.

You have two generations of artists between you and your presidential great-grandfather: your dad, Clifton Truman Daniel of “Give ‘Em Hell, Harry!” fame, and your grandmother, singer/actress Margaret Truman Daniel. Did you inherit any of great-grandpa Harry’s political DNA?

Definitely! The majority of my professional life I was pursuing acting and painting in my free time. I was also a middle child and learned to navigate relationships very well. Teaching is a new profession for me, but not new. I’ve always enjoyed absorbing new things and disseminating it to others. I enjoy demystifying. Well, that should be what a politician does, but I feel it’s changed to the opposite these days, unfortunately.

Besides leading the April 12 plein air event and competition, what are you most looking forward to doing while you are in Key West?

I’m really excited to be leading this “TRU-ly Amazing Art” event at the Little White House, and as you might imagine, Chicago is not the best for outdoor painting! I first made it down to Key West in 8th grade and have been many times over the years. I haven’t been down in more than 10 years and this is my first time going it alone. I’m looking forward to catching up with old friends and hunting for six-toed cats. I also may crawl a bit on Duval.

“Plein Air Painting with Wesley Truman Daniel” is the second installment in The Key West Harry S. Truman Foundation’s recently launched “TRU-ly Amazing Art” series. From 10:00am – 1:00pm Friday, April 12, artists can join in a plein air painting experience and competition with Truman Daniel on the grounds of the Harry S. Truman Little White House, 111 Front Street, Key West, Florida. Each registered participant will be provided with an authentic 1911 roof shingle from the Truman Little White House for their canvas. Artists bring their own outdoor painting supplies, such as easel or plein air box and tripod, paint, brushes, brush washing container, etc. Light refreshments will be served.

The winning artist will score a tour around Key West for a party of six in the Foundation’s elegant vintage Lincoln Cosmopolitan stretch limousine that Truman used during his Presidency. The winner’s artwork will also be placed on permanent display in the Truman Foundation gallery.

“TRU-ly Amazing Art” events benefit the Harry S. Truman Little White House and are presented with the support of the Monroe County Tourist Development Council. The mission of the not-for-profit Harry S. Truman Foundation is to preserve Florida’s only presidential museum—the Harry S. Truman Little White House—and to provide programming that supports civic engagement, education, and the historical and cultural influences of the Truman era. Tickets and registration are available at

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