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contact portrait artist Marvin Mattelson
Painting portraits is my passion. I started drawing when I was two years old and ever since making pictures has been at the core of my existence. It's always thrilling to experience the moment a painting takes on a life of its own. One instant there is an amalgamation of colored shapes on the canvas surface and boom, with the addition of a single stroke it's transformed into a lifelike entity.

I feel I've been blessed with a special gift and it's incredibly satisfying to know that I can use my talent to bring joy into the lives of others. I strive to meld the physical and spiritual characteristics of each person I paint into the most telling portrait possible. To me, conveying the essence of my sitter is paramount.

Every portrait I paint provides me with the opportunity to create a work of art that exhibits both beauty and timelessness. It's exciting to consider the possibility that one day my painting may become a cherished heirloom, providing deep meaning for many generations to come.


Many of the greatest masterpieces of Western Art have been commissioned portrait paintings. My inspiration is drawn from the art of the great academic masters, such as Rembrandt, Van Dyke, Sir Henry Raeburn, Ingres, J. L. David, William McGregor Paxton and William Adolphe Bouguereau. My challenge, as an artist, is to live up to the standard of excellence they've established. Michelangelo said the greater danger is not that our hopes are too high and we fail to reach them; it's that they're too low and we do.

I carefully study the masterful portrait paintings on view at New York City museums and auction houses, whenever possible. During my pilgrimages, I meticulously examine these masterpieces, always evaluating how I can best incorporate my observations into my own work.

Many of my clients tell me that through the process of having their portraits painted they've developed a newfound appreciation for art.

I encourage my subjects to pose from life, as often as their schedules can permit, because it gives me time to get to know them better. Working from direct observation also allows me the opportunity to observe and incorporate more subtle nuances of form and color into my painting. For me, the process of painting from life is incredibly exhilarating, but I understand that in today's world it’s not possible for most people to devote the time necessary to have their portraits done entirely from live sittings. Therefore, I've dedicated myself to honing my photographic skills in order to ensure that my reference materials provide me with the very best possible visual information to work from.

A great portrait painting goes far beyond merely capturing a faithful likeness. The physical process of applying paint with a brush creates a unique dynamic energy, impossible to replicate through any mechanical process. A painter, unlike a photographer, has infinite opportunities to edit what he's observed, whether working from life or from a photo, playing things up or down in order to create something that goes far beyond the surface. I use my reference photos, as a starting point. I alter them significantly in order to achieve a final composition that best conveys my sense of the sitter. Each element in my painting must be in perfect harmony with the overall composition for me to consider it successful.

I constantly strive to reach the highest artistic plateaus in order to best achieve my goal: to create portrait paintings that will not only meet but will surpass all expectations.

Marvin Mattelson

Portrait Artist © Marvin Mattelson 2002 Portrait Paintings
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