Fine Art Oil Portrait Painting Techniques and Figure Painting Techniques.
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Marvin Mattelson at his easel, commentating while demonstrating.

Student Testimonials
I would not be showing in galleries nor be a painter today had I not met Marvin Mattelson. Simple as that. Not once had I considered classical painting as a viable goal and I was under the assumption that the train had already left my station in regards to learning such a daunting skill set. But Marvin took the seemingly insurmountable alchemy of realistic oil painting and broke it down into a manageable step by step approach. With swiftness and ease he presented and communicated the most intricate age-old concepts behind some of the most beautiful artworks in history. The debt my life and career owes to his teaching cannot be overstated.

When I first came across Marvin's class, it was like uncovering a rosetta stone of painting. I could now look back at the artwork I had admired all my life and suddenly see the clockwork moving underneath, glimpse the decisions made by the painter's hand and thus feel closer to and appreciate art like never before. Every epiphany along the way felt like a vast expanse opening up in my mind. But with understanding came also realization of the focus and work required to become a skilled draftsman. Thanks to Marvin, and while acknowledging the challenge ahead, I could now see a very clear path forward. With devotion I could follow it to where anything was possible.

Spending time in Marvin's workshop, it's one of those rare instances as a student when you feel that your instructor truly loves teaching and is genuinely thrilled by the progress made by you and the group. This joy is why he's SO good at what he does, and it's also the source of the great atmosphere and pleasant camaraderie in the studio. If anything, Marvin is a tireless perfectionist who approaches his mission of teaching much in the very same way he has approached art throughout his career. Wholeheartedly, and striving to do it in the best way possible. As such, Marvin has a unique way of expressing the most complex areas of knowledge, blending hard-earned truths and wisdoms with plenty of humor and outrageous analogiies. Who knew that learning a discipline so utterly focused could also be such tremendous fun?

Over the last few years I've taken several workshops led by talented painters. Hands down there's just no-one like Marvin. His students make fast progress and their work sport an unusual clarity compared to that of other painting groups. Regardless of your entry level, Marvin's teachings will give you a firm footing to stand on as an artist. With this strong platform and understanding you can branch out in any direction or combine it with any method of work you prefer.

Marvin is a mentor and I hear his voice every day as I stand by my easel. Educational as it's been, I've also had some of the happiest, most satisfying (and funniest) moments of my painting career in his classroom.
I stand in awe of Marvin's passion for painting and If you have any ambition of improving your artistic skill and increasing your understanding, this class comes with my highest recommendation.
Billy Norrby

Marvin Mattelson's technique and teaching philosophy have been an invaluable asset to my own understanding of painting. A tremendous amount of the knowledge and experience that I have acquired in this class greatly informs the way that I paint in my own time as a full time professional artist, regardless of what subject matter I choose to depict. Everything from the best choice of materials, to a thorough understanding of color, to the handling and application of paint and the achievement of compelling realism is covered in Marvin's method, and in a manner that is extremely easy to absorb and process. The method allows for immense personal development for an artist at any stage in the game. In the various classes I have attended throughout my studies and my career, I have never witnessed such great strides of advancement in well-rounded skills as in the students in Marvin's class. I am grateful to count myself among them.

It really has been a hugely transformative experience for me, and I wish that more aspiring artists who had the chops to progress with their painting discovered his class. I do make a point to tell anyone asking about my portraits or just painting-advancement to consider signing up.
Martin Withfooth

I have been working in the animation for quite a while now. I enjoy it very much. I still do oil paintings on the side. I have to say I am lucky to be doing what I love. And of course, I never forget that my painting/illustration skill really comes from your class. Wheather you see it or not, i do still use your theory in my work all the time. Especially now, I do a lot of lighting studies/lighting art directing for movies. You really taught me so much about lighting and picture making fundamentals.
Daisuke Tsutsumi

I'm always mindful of how much I appreciate the information you shared as a teacher. It has made a huge difference in my artistic career and ultimately in my life. You're an incredible person... Thank you Marvin.
Dorian Vallejo

This is the fourth semester I've taken your portrait painting class. I'm so excited about the major improvements in my painting and I wanted to thank you and let you know how transforming and life changing for me your class has been. I also took your workshop in photography and photoshop. Your depth of knowledge in all these areas is truly awesome.

I've taken art classes and workshops for years, with some very good teachers and some not so good. The very good teachers brought me to a higher place than I had come in with, but not knowing exactly what I was looking for or missing, I was aware that there were missing pieces that were eluding me and I never felt that I was getting to that next level.

The improvements that I've seen in my painting over the last four semesters is dramatic. Your totally unselfish and generous teaching and your entire method of teaching and painting is what I've been missing and looking for. Your demonstrations are the best I've seen. You explain everything that you're doing, answer every question and go through every step of the process. Having seen the demonstrations four times, I have to say every painting you do in class is a masterpiece. I can't say that about other demonstrations I've seen. You communicate your color method and method of painting in a very understandable way and it is a method that takes a good amount of work to master, but is logical and it works.

I had admired your work for years before actually signing up for your class, and I only wish I had known years ago what an amazing, knowledgeable and generous teacher you are. Better late than never! I feel very honored to be studying with one of the great artists, and teachers, of our time.
Thank you.
Carole Katz

This workshop is an unusually dense and thoughtful course of instruction - well worth taking twice - even for copious note-takers like myself. I processed the information differently and more completely the second time. It exceeded my expectations and my expectations were very high. It might have taken a decade or two for me to learn, on my own, what Marvin delivered in one week. Benjamin Franklin said it best: "Learn of the skillful; he that teaches himself has a fool for his master."
Brian Owens

I thank Marvin most of all for the recent growth I have seen in my own art. His ability to communicate his knowledge of painting to students is, in my mind, unsurpassed.
Matthew Innis

The top 10 reasons to attend a Mattelson workshop at Binders, in no particular order:

(1) Marvin’s color system makes mixing skin colors much easier and faster, but without any compromises – it’s also perfectly accurate and helps you to “see” the true colors on the model and understand what you are seeing. And yet it’s not (like the systems of other artists whose workshop I have attended) mysterious at all. It is perfectly logical and scientific.

(2) Adopting Marvin’s method of mixing and applying paints to a canvas made my own painting process much more efficient, accurate and fun. I have a limited amount of time to paint each week and this method gives me the most ‘bang for the buck’ during my painting time.

(3) This workshop is like getting a semester of knowledge in a couple of weeks. Marvin is very generous with his time and information, including evening workshops on art history (tying his methods and instruction into renowned artist’s work), marketing, color theory, etc. The students also pick up great information on drawing in general, and photography for artists, although Marvin also teaches workshops on those subjects separately.

(4) Marvin does not teach a particular ‘style’ of painting; he is teaching good, sound, time-tested basic art theory and practice, which can be applied to any style, and much of which can be applied to other media as well.

(5) Marvin demonstrates by creating his own painting alongside the students (on alternating days). The ability to watch an accomplished artist and how he applies paint to the canvas taught me as much as what I heard. And (unlike some other teachers) he explains what he is doing, and why, as he goes along.

(6) Being able to paint from a live model is invaluable. Most of us by necessity have to paint a lot from photographs, but the subtlety and accuracy in skin color that his students can achieve from life at the class just can’t be duplicated in working only from photos. I still keep my workshop paintings handy when I am painting from photos, to remind myself of what skin looks like “in the flesh”

(7) The facility – the room, lighting, and staff at Binders is great, and having a fully-equipped art supply store right there is inspiring and convenient (not to mention the great restaurant next door).

(8) At many other workshops, you may learn (as I had) how to paint a 2-hour “alla prima” portrait, but I wanted to learn how to take the paintings to a further level. Marvin’s class is perfect for that – by stretching the class over 2 weeks, it gives the paint time to dry between sessions so that the benefits provided by this “indirect” method of painting can be seen. Only after I had taken Marvin’s workship did I understand where I wanted to “go” with my portraits and how to get there. I look back at my older work now and wonder why I never “finished” them…although I keep them around as reminders.

(9) This is not a “gimmick” system (no “happy trees” here). What is taught and demonstrated is solid, from the foundation to the top, even though you can also pick up methods, and equipment, that make the application of this knowledge much easier.

(10) The workshop is great fun, with good music, lots of humor, and a ‘good time had by all,’ as they say. Anyone is welcome to contact me through my website at for more recommendations for Marvin’s workshops.
Matt Ellrod

It was a fantastic experience for me to participate in the workshop. My instincts had been pointing me in that direction for some time now and it's very gratifying to know that they were correct. I was able to connect to a part of myself that has been dormant for many years. The supportive environment and the excellent instruction were exactly what I needed to become involved with portrait painting again. I've decided to put all of my other obsessions on hold and pursue this direction for the entire next year. I'd also love to make studying with you an ongoing "habit". I know that I have only scratched the surface of the knowledge you can provide.

I searched the web for examples of contemporary portrait painters and was disappointed to find that 98% of the work I saw was not really painting. Most of these works were clearly copied from photographs with little to no understanding of effective composition or color structure. Your paintings stood out clearly as luminous and elegant images that also happened to be portraits. It was clear that you were creating sophisticated color harmonies as well as classically structured compositions. Your extensive study of masterworks was evident and the paintings combined naturalistic likeness with pictorial integrity. Your were the 2% I needed to study with.

I would also like to say that I think your generosity is rare indeed. All of the hard work and research you have done over the last several years is a gold mine for your students. Your own work is a testament to the beauty and logic of the color system. I have been describing it to my friends as a typewriter analogy. I have been hunting and pecking for 25 years and have finally been given a keyboard I can understand. I'm confident that with practice I'll be able to reach that all important "flow state" with respect to color and value.

At no time in my education ,which includes a BFA from Boston University and an MFA from Yale, did I encounter anyone who was qualified to teach on this level. I believe you have isolated some of the core truths in figurative painting. Thank you so much for helping me to see them. I feel that a whole new direction in painting has now opened before me.
Kathleen Speranza

My work has shown significant improvement since taking Marvin's 2 week workshop. His common sense instruction combined with a quick wit made learning a new procedure a pleasure. He has given me the ability to appreciate finding my mistakes as well as the tools and knowledge to correct them. The workshop was a total blast and I would recommend it to anyone with the desire to learn from a living master. I cannot thank him enough for helping me learn to see.
Cheri Cowen

I did the NYC workshop in August and I strongly recommend this class to anyone who wants to learn about oil painting. I travelled all the way from London to attend this course ( there were also students from Spain and Ireland ) and we all share the same opinion: it was totally worth it!

Marvin is unbelievable. He's very professional, knowledgeable, cool and incredibly funny. He would make a great stand-up comedian. When it comes to painting he's definitely the most passionate person that I've ever met. He knows painting like the palm of his hand. His organized and methodical approach makes the whole process a very pleasant journey.

He has completely changed my way of working. Now I execute my paintings in half the time and the result is doubly satisfying. I was telling my colleagues that before this class creating a painting felt like a long, painful and often traumatic childbirth. After taking this course it's like delivering the baby underwater.

The classes were truly amazing; they were insightful, laid back and practical. We all connected beautifully, we were like a big painting family...a painting tribe with Marvin being our Moses, guiding us through the desert of oil painting.

On Saturday, after class, we all went to The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Marvin took us on a tour and analyzed some of the realistic portraits that he considered exceptional, an experience that has completely changed the way that I look at painting.

I absolutely loved the experience! If you're looking for a great course to learn oil painting, this is it.
Marco Palomeque

Marvin, I know everyone will agree with me when I say you are a fantastic teacher. You taught me more than I even knew I needed to learn. It's hard to put into words an experience that has had such a profound effect. It has changed the way I paint. And yes, I have started painting. My husband has been drafted into sitting for me. It was such a unique experience that I will cherish the rest of my life.
Barbara Clack

You have changed me forever!
Matthew J. Moffett

Thank you for the gift you gave our class of sharing a lifetime of knowledge about painting in two of the shortest weeks of my life. Your passion for art and commitment to breaking down portrait painting into a series of specific steps was exactly what I was looking for - I didn't expect to get the highest quality of teaching by signing up for a workshop over the internet. I have to say, I was blown away by your ability to set the highest standard for each one of us and at the same time make it fun and inspirational. You are a true teacher - and I am so grateful for the effort, dedication and care you gave to each workshop member and to the world of portrait painting. Thank you.
Meg Aiken

Marvin, how can I ever thank you for this week?? What a wonderful, eye-opening adventure it was. I so enjoyed meeting you and having the honor of spending time with you. I can't wait to put what I've learned from you into action and have been working all morning to rearrange my condo (read also: life) to create space for the development of my artwork. I know I'm only one of hundreds of students you've encouraged and artists' lives you've helped to transform, but you made me feel so special and have left an indelible impression on my art and my life.

Going into your drawing workshop, I had hoped to gain a fresh perspective and learn some fundamentals I could apply to what I already knew about drawing. I had no idea what I was about to experience. Like so many of your students, I thought I had some knowledge on the subject, but right away I realized the smartest thing I could do would be to leave behind what I knew and fully embrace your incredibly unique methodology. You didn't just teach me to draw, you taught me to see — a universal skill I can apply to everything I create, regardless of the medium.

So few people have the ability to operate at the level you do artistically, but even fewer have the skills and desire to teach others how it's done. You took what you learned about us as individuals and you developed custom, innovative teaching methods using them to push each of us to new levels. You understand how people learn and seem to genuinely thrive off of your students' progress. Selfless with your wealth of knowledge, you jumped at any opportunity to share what you know with your students. After only six days, every one of us walked away with more knowledge than we could have ever hoped to achieve in that time-frame and for that amount of money. This workshop was, without a doubt, the best investment I've ever made in the development of my skills as an artist.

I cannot thank you enough for everything you taught me this week, Marvin. You are a spectacular teacher and person, and I will be counting down the days until I can study with you again.
Mary Beth Lumley

After taking Marvin's class or workshop, be prepared, you will have no more excuses to not paint well!
Jeannine Jackson, Founder & President Emeriti, Connecticut Society of Portrait Artists

I have recently painted my best portrait head ever, I think, both due to your color system (which makes it much easier to achieve a good result with fewer errors), and due to your inspiration to keep working until you 'get it right.'

I read all the time in magazines and books that you need to know 'when to stop' on a painting. It occurs to me that this saying is only true to the extent that the artist desires an 'unfinished' look, or because the artist is continuing to paint aimlessly with no strategy or goal in mind. Since your class, I have found that (as you said of yourself) I could keep working on a painting indefinitely, by focusing on getting smaller and smaller shapes to be more accurate (in shape, color, and edges), while at the same time periodically stepping back and simplifying the larger shapes and value areas. Although it seems that sometimes I am just correcting things back and forth, I think the overall effect with oil paint of this repeated 'correction' is a more subtle appearance, due to the build-up of more and more layers of translucent paint.

I used to wonder how someone could spend more than 5 or 6 hours on a 3/4 figure; now, when I look at some of my old paintings hanging around I find myself wondering why I didn't 'finish' them. Thanks again for your teaching!
Matt Ellrod

Thank you so much for everything in Santa Fe! You have an incredible talent and I am so glad you are willing to share what you have learned. I did learn more than any class I have attended and appreciate your time.
Nancy Haacke

I studied with portrait artist Marvin Mattelson for four years. He is an accomplished artist and has been teaching and painting for over thirty years. He is a master at communicating and extremely generous with his knowledge, he is a mentor whom has greatly influenced my life.
Chris Wilson

Since completing your workshop, I have jumped into utilizing all the knowledge I absorbed into my current projects. Again, thanks so much for your class and time and your unmeasurable talent. I look at painting in a whole new way; trying to make my subject breathe is now my goal ...a lofty one no doubt, but anything less would be the me before your instruction. I look forward to another workshop since I only scraped the top of the iceberg. I am honored to have been in your tutelage and so very thankful I know you.
Tod Mason

Marvin Mattelson is a walking fountain of knowledge. He presents crucial concepts in an easy-to-grasp fashion. His entertaining yet informative seminars can transform and hone your vision.
Jamie Schneider

Dat class was insane, Mahvin.
Dusty Scott

I wanted to take a moment to share with you how incredibly grateful I am for your inspired leadership over the course. As I have shared with you before, without your hard work, willingness to go the extra mile and amazing spirit I would have been lost at sea with my painting. You helped me take what was a situation ripe for failure and turn it into a victory with far reaching implications in the life of one young & untrained painter like myself. You have made me a better painter and for that I am eternally grateful. Your teaching skills and love of painting are awe inspiring and incredibly humbling. Most importantly,I thank you for your friendship during and after class hours and I wish you continued success as you continue to passionately raise up tomorrow's painters...
Your Turkish student Ilke from Istanbul, city of dreams..."
Ilke Sevinsel

What a great time I had the past 2 weeks at your workshop. You are a treasure...Not only are you the best art teacher I ever studied with but you kept me laughing with all your great jokes and wonderful sense of humor. Your kindness and continued sharing with others will always bring you much happiness.
Barbara Sarvis

Thank you for great workshop experience, for all that I heard that was new and never would have heard any another place. THANK YOU! And I hope I will see you another time again!
Ilze Zemite

Marvin is an incredible artist, as well as being an awesome teacher. His humor & enthusiasm make for a fun learning environment. Marvin's logical algorithm makes it easy to replicate the process within each student's individual style.
Nita Bakay

Thank you so much for teaching me. I think I learned more these two weeks than I have in the past few years. You go well above the call of duty when it comes to helping your students. You are a sincere and devoted man and I have tremendous respect for you.
Tsipora Karp

Marvin shared his hard-earned knowledge, and graciously answered numerous questions - I'm especially grateful as I certainly asked more than my fair share! I had many things I knew reinforced, and had some gaps in my self-taught foundation filled in. Now I feel as if I have the basics I need to successfully begin oil painting. Marvin gave me confidence in my current abilities, but helped me to see what I need to do if I want to become the level of painter I aspire to be.

The best class I ever took...I learned so much. It was like being rescued!!!!! I also made my own DVD for the tattooing world called: Helpful Tips In Tattooing Portraits. You can go to my new website for the video and check out the Trailer: I could not have done this without you. YOU ARE THEE GREATEST TEACHER THE THE WORLD!!!!!!! And always talk about you. If only more people CARED the way you do, the world would be a more enlightened place!!!!
Angelo Grisafi

I would highly recommend learning with Marvin. His technique and teaching style are 2nd to none. I feel so fortunate that I found this class so early in my life & art career.
Lynn Neuman

Marvin's class turned my painting on it's head! My painting has improved dramatically and my head spins every time I see just how versatile the palette is. He's literally changed my life!!!
Line Lagace-Basque

Worth the money - you won't be disappointed. Marvin puts a lot of effort into making this a fun, information filled workshop. Would highly recommend it regardless of skill level.
Lucy Stephenson

Absolutely the best instruction I've ever had. I feel my BFA was wasted compared to the quality of instruction, patience and encouragement from Marvin. Marvin knows portraits & CAN TEACH! He's willing to share his knowledge & does it well.
Marcia Cunningham

In my 20 years of painting & education, I have never had such a comprehensive & informative class. I now understand why I am doing what I'm doing. The great thing about Marvin's class is that he can teach a beginner all the way to the seasoned artist in the same class. I have never had such a fabulous teacher!!!
Claire Bradford

I learned more in 2 weeks with Marvin than in 7 years and an MFA in art school.
Jenny Lyon Poggi

I've taken a number of painting classes over the years, and learned (and forgot) a lot of rules about painting but this was the only class I've taken that I came out of able to paint any better than I could at the beginning of the class. I think Marvin is a master teacher, as well as a master artist. I'm so glad I took this class!
Pat Holland

The most intense class in both lecture and demo. Marvin is a passionate teacher, caring to make sure his students learn the concepts. He has a great personality. I feel I learned things about color, values, shapes, & composition which will make me a better artist. This class was a great value for the price.
Jackie Smith

Excellent teacher & thorough. I finally understand how to paint values.
Joan White-Spunner

I have finished my first commissioned portrait since the Mattelson workshop
in July, and I have to say Marvin has turned my work on its head. Attached
please find a new bridal portrait executed post workshop and a wedding
portrait completed before the workshop. Hoping to see this much improvement
again, I've signed up for the Atlanta May digital photography and drawing
workshops. Now I have to complete an entire new portfolio . . . .

Jenny Poggi

I've painted from life with oils (training with Marvin Mattelson - an academic descendant of William Bouguereau), and it has really improved my visual skills.
Dru Blair

I learned more than my brain could handle.
Nancy Haacke

Marvin loves to teach, and he's incredible at it.
Tim Mensching

Marvin teaches a system of oil painting that is not only ideal for portraits but is readily adaptable to any subject. His complete explanations during demonstrations reveal his years of experience as a university art professor. Class time was well-planned with demos followed by adequate time to implement the principles and techniques.
Parrish Hirasaki

No bandied cockamamie theories here! All methods and practices are evidenced by example or demonstration. Quality teaching methods with excellent handouts and clarity.
Wendy Hauschildt

I really enjoyed your digital photo workshop in Atlanta. I learned more in those few days than I had in years.
Ann Wildmon

I'm so pleased with everything that you taught me. It works so beautifully. I can't thank you enough. I'm totally jealous of all the people who got to put up with you for however many days it was in Santa Fe. I hope they appreciated your incredible genius, and strange sense of humor. I do.
Elsie Hammerlich

Darn it, does that rotten Marvin have to be right on everything??
Matt Ellrod

Thank you for a fantastic class. I had not painted for such a long time and was so fearful of starting again. Your whole approach was what I needed. Everything was clear and uncluttered by ego. You are a true teacher and I am so grateful I took your class. Thank you for the encouragement and humour you interjected at every turn. You made the week a long orchestrated performance. My vocabulary has also been enriched with words such as penumbra and ambient light. These days I am inside a snow globe that has been shaken........The wonder of it all!!!!
Corinna Brannon

I have implemented a lot of what I learnt from the day I had with you in November and it has totally changed the way I work. I am really thrilled at how I now feel more in control of the end results and its not quite as unstructured. I have started tentatively but am slowly building up my confidence with the technique and knowledge. I am working madly at the moment with a major solo show scheduled for September this year and I feel with each work I am getting better and better results. I would love to come back to New York and do a longer workshop with you.
Erika Gofton

Just wanted you to know that my painting "Self Portrait" won first prize at the Juried Art Exhibition for Women of African Descent. I can't thank you enough for what you've taught me.
Arlene Horton

It seems you've developed into the kind of instructor we all wish we'd had early on. I like your kid-in-the-candy-store enthusiasm for what you are teaching. Even the things I was already familiar with you presented so concisely that it made me know it better. The whole experience was well worth the time, effort and money. Not everyone can be fun and serious. It's a synergistic mix.
Jeff Ott

Thanks again for sharing your knowledge with us. The workshop was a great way to start the new year - information and inspiration - what more could you want. You're a great teacher (as well as painter). I could say more, but have to get home so I can paint until the wee hours of the morning.

You taught me more in 2 weeks that I'd learned anytime in the past.
Margaret Garrett

My Gabrielle Cot portrait [Bouguereau copy] is the best thing I've ever painted. This was a test I put your technique through and I must say that it was a resounding success in replicating the Bouguereau style. When people see this painting, they are just speechless. It looks like real flesh you can touch. I find myself working on it until the wee hours and just looking at it when I should be getting to bed. I can't put into words how much your workshop has changed what I can do.

I've got a commission starting the week after next, and another one in line after that. I've literally painted the entire summer and feel ready… So what can I say but that you've changed my life. Thanks.
Ron Wolfe

Just three sentences into his opening lecture on the first day, and I knew that my drawing was about to improve dramatically. Marvin's presentation on objective seeing was so compelling that shapes started jumping out at me from everywhere in the room. As the model took the stand, I couldn't wait to get to my drawing pad -- and, indeed, I started seeing positive results from my first sketch. It wasn't just me. Day after day, marked improvement was evident in my classmate's work, as well. We all shared a sense that we had been handed something of real value.

The transformation that occurred during the 3 1/2-week drawing and painting workshop was built on a wealth of information and exciting demos. Everything was based on timeless truths passed down by master artists generous enough to share their secrets. Marvin has the talent, knowledge, and passion to keep the ideals of illusionary realism alive and nurture them in others through his extraordinary teaching methods. His standards, work ethic, and myriad of wonderful stories made his workshop an experience I will never forget.
Richard DePascal

This Jan. workshop was exciting, inspirational and knowledge packed. I've been to a lot of workshops and this was the best of all of them. I look forward to the next workshop with Marvin.
Bill Lewis

I thoroughly enjoyed this workshop. I learned more in a week than I have learned in the previous 15 years of painting. I have never heard such a clear and thorough explanations values combined with a straightforward and user friendly method of manipulating them.
Katherine Gettys

This has been my second workshop with Marvin and as a "Repeat Offender" as he jokingly calls his former students, I was able to gain new insights into his working methods.

Marvin leaves no stone unturned, he explains his methods and pushes you to "see" beyond the obvious. He made me realize that as an artist, you not only have to know your tools and their application, but you have to make calculated choices to sometimes sacrifice one convention for another. The painting and not the reference dictates what it needs and it is up to the artist to push as far as possible to create an illusion of three dimensionality and breathe life into the work.

Many people in the workshop were somewhere between the beginner or intermediate category (as far as portraiture). Marvin has the ability to captivate his audience in such a way, that even after a very long day, people were still taking notes and hanging around to hear more. They become like sponges!

Once the students were at their easels, they all (me included) struggled with the drawing aspects of a live model. Marvin offers his students the tools necessary to overcome these short comings, and shows them an easy to follow system that allows them to quickly proceed to capturing a solid likeness. Once they are familiar with the palette and get used to using 33 brushes, they continue to built the form and obtain amazingly, lifelike, harmonious color. (Note from Marvin: Despite conjecture from some highly uninformed parties, all 33 brushes are rarely used during a painting session!)

Binder's in Atlanta is a very busy art store, with shoppers often stopping at the door to catch a glimpse of the workshop. Being that my easel location was right by the door, I heard many passer byes commenting that this must be a class of an advanced caliber.

As always, Marvin, I will be forever grateful for what you have taught me!
Enzie Shamiri

My previous painting habits were to use only a brush or two while painting, cleaning it between changes of color or value, but Marvin has sold me on the one-brush-per-value system. It definitely made my color mixing more accurate while greatly speeding up the painting process at the same time (by omitting all the cleaning). A great benefit in exchange for the minor inconvenience of a few minutes more cleaning brushes at the end of the day.
Matt Ellrod

I'm writing cause I'm sitting here painting a Mule Deer better than I ever have. Every painting is better than the last. It is because of you Mister.
Val Warner

To anyone who is considering a summer workshop, I highly recommend Marvin's. I have studied with him for the past two semesters at the School of Visual Arts in NYC and have made enormous improvement in my painting. I can't emphasize enough what a wonderful, insightful and selfless teacher he is. He's a lot of fun, too.
Molly Sherrick Phifer

I want to thank you for providing such a helpful and informative class; I
really enjoyed myself while learning a great deal. In fact, I've have
already put some of the practices to work.
Roger Gordon

I attended your Portrait Painting workshop at the School of Visual Arts and found that it exceeded my expectations. As a professional sculptor with some basic teaching experience, I respect the level of effort and discipline that it takes to teach on this level. I feel that many of the gaps in my knowledge of portrait painting are now identified and filled in. I now have a new set of creative tools to help me move forward and it was worth every penny.
Brian Owens

I attended your portrait workshop again, this time in Atlanta. The workshop is an unusually dense and thoughtful course of instruction - well worth taking twice - even for copious note-takers like myself. I processed the information differently and more completely the second time. Again, it exceeded my expectations and my expectations were very high.
Brian Owens

I just wanted to tell you taking your class has brought me to a different level. I had been stuck for so long feeling like my talent could not get any better but you have proven me wrong. I thank you so much for all your input and support. I so respect you for teaching me to see differently and getting my heart back into being an artist again. I can't wait to take the class in the fall again.
Paddy Kemp

I participated in the seven day Portrait oil painting workshop at the School of Visual Arts (SVA). I am an engineer and oil painting is my zeal. Marvin did a remarkable job; he was meticulous (he arrived early every day to prepare everything), lenient (Can you explain it again?) and very supportive throughout the day in all the issues associated with painting.

The highlights of the course are indisputably the creation of the color pallet (which took me 3 hours on the first day), the proper way to do an under painting, how to use the proportional divider and how to create a harmless [healthy] studio.

In addition, Marvin is also a very talented humorist and his stories made the workshop a fun experience. I would advocate this workshop to anyone, hobbyist or professional, who wants to improve his painting abilities.
Shlomo Kashani

I'm learning a lot and am very grateful that I was able to attend Marvin's workshop. He is a very good teacher with such a well thought out methodology. I'd recommend his workshop to anyone, no matter how loose or tight a painter they are. I'm more of a "loose" painter compared to Marvin's style, but it doesn't matter, because I can use what he teaches. Many teachers stop at the point where they've shown you how to paint what is in front of your eyes. In Marvin's class, that is the starting point. He proceeds to show you how to plan and execute a painting by changing what is there if necessary to best communicate a three-dimensional reality.

Marvin was so helpful - I'd be struggling, and he'd come over and remind me of something he had mentioned in his lectures, I'd apply it, and woila! it would improve considerably.
Julie Deane

I spent ten years trying, on my own, to fill in the gaps of my university "art education," before I finally signed up for a class with Marvin Mattelson. In his first class, not only did he cover every salient fact I had spent the past decade gleaning from art books, but he also demonstrated each of those points. Marvin was the first teacher I found who ever taught HOW to paint.

In his more than a quarter-of-a-century of teaching art, Marvin has developed a curriculum which works. His students gain a solid foundation in the making of paintings, learning to understand drawing, color, value, edges, brush handling, composition, and how to manipulate those elements to create realistic form. Because of Marvin's teaching, his students have gone on to win many honors and enjoy professional painting careers. What is more, Marvin's love for his craft keeps him continually striving to improve his abilities as a teacher: he keeps pushing himself, so that his students will always get the best he can offer.

Under his tutelage, I have become a better artist. My rendering skills have improved, my use of color has improved, and most importantly, my confidence has improved. Because of what I learned from Marvin by approaching his class with an open mind, I now know that no matter what problems arise in my painting, I have the skills to analyze and correct my work to produce the best painting I know I have inside of me. No matter what style or genre of painting I choose to do, I know I can create a good piece of artwork because of the strong understanding in the construction of solid paintings Marvin has bolstered in me. Marvin Mattelson is simply the best art instructor I have had.
Matthew Innis

Wow, it took me till today to 'come down' from the high I was experiencing from last week! When I show people the before and after portraits they have all gasped in amazement that so much could be accomplished in such a short amount of time.

I feel like my brain was a dry sponge, and now it's filled with the knowledge you gave me of how to do a truly lifelike portrait. Your color palette is amazing. I can't imagine ever using any other colors!!

Thank you so much for such a wonderful experience, and I truly enjoyed meeting you! Your dry wit kept me cracked up all week long. I hope I can participate again in the future.
Susan Carter

Your willingness to share information and be approachable is unique to an artist of your stature.
Laurie Hey

I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed the workshop-you are an incredible teacher, portraitist, role model and great guy!!! I have gone back over some of my past portraits and critiqued myself and found I just didn't take them as far as I could have. I will rework my favorite of my daughter at 4 years of age and it will become Marvin worthy. Thank you for your gentle nudges, talent, intelligence, skill and this opportunity you have afforded me. Most of all, I am so grateful for your straightforward outlook on life - are you sure you are not from the SOUTH?????
Diddy Vucovich

I just want to express my great appreciation for a very enjoyable and educational experience in Atlanta. Your generosity in sharing what you have learned about art and sense of humor in imparting it makes you a marvelous teacher. The week just flew by! I believe we all had a fantastic time and learned a lot.
Laurel McBrine

There was no time wasted. I felt that in return for my money and time I was given much in return. A well thought out workshop, designed for any serious student (beginner or advanced) who is motivated to learn from a master. Even when viewed from a purely capitalistic basis the workshop makes sense: a lot of return for a modest investment in time and money -- especially when compared to attending a costly university where one would be hard pressed to learn in 6 months what can be learned here in 6 days.

Value, chroma, form, line, light, shadow, etc. are all terms I have heard and read about, but not until the workshop did they somehow come alive and register as more than just mere concepts but concrete applications that I can control. Your discussions on seeing the objective form, shape were especially helpful as was the all-important palette with its value control, limited colors, and corresponding brush organization. I witnessed, for the first time, that it's okay to approach a painting slowly, evenly, LOGICALLY, scientifically, craftsmanly and still be able to call oneself an artist. The whole experience was very liberating.

Never in my career or in my "fine art" painting "education" did any professor ever demonstrate an approach or technique or concept. Any student frustrated with the status quo art "education" at most universities -- where little, if any, foundational concepts are taught -- will find your logical, methodological approach refreshing.
Steve Henderson

My experience with Marvin at the workshop has been one of absolute joy. Not only is Marvin a wonderfully funny, witty, charismatic person, he is also quite knowledgeable about the sharing and teaching process. To paint beautifully and to teach well are attributes that not all possess who venture into this field of fine art. My hat is off to Marvin and I will indeed wish to study with him again. At least until I can conquer that palette of his. So-o-o- vibrant and luminescent.
Patt Legg

Your command of the subject matter is terrific – and you repeatedly reinforce your opinions and guidelines by referring to master artists such as Paxton and Bouguereau. You are a very effective communicator – you break information down and present it in a straightforward manner that makes it uncomplicated, even to a novice. It amazes me that someone who executes his work as well as you do, can also elucidate the process so effectively. The elegant simplicity of your color palette eliminates wasted time and unreal hues.
Elisia Martin

The more I use your palette, the better I like the results. I can get so many ranges of colors and shades, I didn't realize how limiting my previous palette was.
Renee Price

Marvin really explains everything very thoroughly. He demonstrates how he works from beginning to end. The class would watch his demos then go back to their own easels while Marvin gave individual attention to each of us. Break times were filled with informative lectures on everything from technique to mini art history lessons.

Marvin is a wealth of information! Personally, Marvin was able to fill in some missing gaps in my art education. He has a real understanding of painting the human form. I would recommend his classes and workshops to artists of all levels; even the seasoned professional will gain much. I look forward to doing so again myself.
Grace DiVito

I just wanted to thank you again and reiterate how important to me the Atlanta workshop was. What I learned will allow me to grow and move forward as a painter in a way I had not been able to previously. What you taught us is truly the solid ground on which we can walk (with practice) to achieve realistic visual art work that will communicate life to a viewer. Thank you so much for making the information available and for your dedication too, and love for, oil painting and it's history.
Elizabeth Baskett

I cannot tell you how much the time I have spent at your workshop has transformed me as an artist and a person.
David Alford

Your class was great. I appreciated the last class I took with you because of all the new techniques that I learned. I had suspected that the next class would be more of the same; but was happy to realize all the new information that I acquired. It's hard to verbalize; I suppose that it's awareness of observations to make.
George Strasburger

I can't recommend this workshop more highly. From the opening lecture to the final parting strokes, I got what I went for and then some. I don't get to paint from life nearly enough, and Marvin's tools and procedure for getting a solid preliminary drawing and wash-in are pretty near bulletproof. It gave me a confident foundation to explore what I had come to learn about : the PALETTE! I saw a vibrancy from the first stroke I'd never achieved with my old approach...A career altering experience!

I'm painting better than ever now, with more consistency and solidity. I think a lot of what you taught is beginning to kick in.
Tom Edgerton

In the midst of an increasingly subjective fine art world, Marvin’s principles are refreshingly objective. The knowledge he shares about light, color, and form can be confidently applied towards any personal artistic endeavor. Moreover, he communicates his observations in an open and extremely thorough manner. I can’t imagine a man better qualified for teaching how to representationally depict our natural surroundings.
Joeseph Daily
Best of Show Award & People's Choice Award Winner, Portrait Society of America 2005

Thanks again for the wonderful semester of painting. The Saturday class was the highlight of each week. I learned a great deal and I'm deeply satisfied with the progress I made, and now I can't wait to get going again in June.

Now that I'm understanding more about the palette, etc, I feel much more assured as I paint. In fact, I feel as if I'm wrestling the painting under my control, rather than approaching it on my tiptoes, shuddering in fear. I feel as if I'm telling it what to do, instead of timidly asking.
Michael Bilsborough

The entire workshop is a good experience. Watching the master do the painting, following your palette, learning color, (with out cadmiums!) I liked every part of the workshop.
Usha Nagubadi

A most excellent workshop. I love your humor and your patience with students. The whole experience has rejuvenated my portrait work. I loved it!
Irene Bailey

I considered other artists' workshops but knew, just knew, I was supposed to attend yours. Now, I understand it was because I should begin painting in color with your palette, and your deliberate approach. Your instruction made so much sense and watching you paint was a revelation for me. Thank you for your candid approach with students, your expertise and your generosity as an artist. Your palette is easy to understand, every step makes perfect sense.
Patty Joyce

Marvin's passion and love of great art was made apparent to us during his opening lecture and slide presentation. He is not only a talented artist, but also a talented teacher, two things that do not necessarily go together. He is eager to share his experiences and artistic knowledge with his students. You soon realize that he sincerely takes the time to listen and explain, and explain again if need be, until it becomes perfectly clear and he gets his point across. Marvin also makes it clear that portrait painting is no easy task. Thankfully for me as a novice, I needed to hear that.
Alicia Kornick

Thank you again for the wonderful learning experience! It will one of those memories that are not forgotten. Keep up the good are the BEST!
Gene Wiggins

Marvin's teaching technique is parallel in quality with his knowledge of the subject matter. If there was a question, Marvin had the answer and then some. He taught non-stop even while dining in the beautiful Greensboro College cafeteria at lunch. He loved sharing all his knowledge with all of us. Anecdotal stories from Marvin's life experiences always kept us in stitches as well.
Denise Hall

Marvin's that rare creature, a natural-born teacher who knows how to help you break through to a new level. He can (certainly!) communicate. (Plus he's one whiz of a problem solver; consider all the little gadgets he's come up with to make the painting task easier, and ease any problems you might be having.) And then he's that most vital thing, a fine painter, a problem solver in paint.
Fran Scofield

I took part in (and was transformed by) your portrait painting class.
Russ Goodlin

He taught like a teacher with many years of teaching. Patient, funny, thorough and well planned lessons. We packed years into that week. Tools were discussed. Slides were shown of some of Marvin's favorite masters, in-depth evaluation of their approach to achieving form and illusion on 2 D surface, why painters have a tougher job than sculptors, the setting up of the model, lighting, position, composition, the value study in raw umber, the whys and wherefores of that, on to the color lay in, more study of how to turn form, it just is EVERYTHING I EVER WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT PAINTING A PORTRAIT.
Val Warner

For as far back as I can remember, I was always the kid who “drew stuff.” The son of two illustrators, I practically grew up with pencil in hand, and by the time I had reached college age my purpose was clear: to learn to paint representationally to the best of my ability. I had seen that in the Society of Illustrators’ annual student competition, the strongest pieces for years had come out of the School of Visual Arts, and I was particularly impressed with the paintings by students of a man named Marvin Mattelson. In the fall of 2000, then, I ventured off to New York City to learn how to paint.

Marvin’s principles were refreshingly objective, and could be easily pieced together to form a larger whole. I came to regard his Friday life-painting class as an anchor for the week, and it soon became clear that his instruction would be the cornerstone of my painting education. The phenomenal transformation that my work underwent proved as much, and my parents were amazed at the leaps I was making. My mother even lamented that the kind of instruction Marvin provides wasn’t available to her as a young art student. Though I would finish out my requirements to earn a Bachelor’s degree in illustration, my real purpose became simply to learn as much from Marvin as possible during my time at SVA.

The beauty of Marvin’s teachings is that he never lets his own individual propensities overshadow his objective understanding of light, color, and form. By learning to depict earth’s natural forms as convincingly as possible on the two-dimensional canvas, one thereby acquires an entire visual language with which to communicate. Thus, Marvin offers the student neutral tools for expression; the knowledge he shares about visual phenomena can be confidently applied towards any personal artistic endeavor.

Ultimately, I have yet to meet the man qualified to explain the true role of the artist in Creation and the responsibility that he therefore assumes with his paintings. Thankfully, Marvin’s guidance has freed me to focus on just these most important concerns. Without it, I may very well have been faced with decades of pursuing and assembling the technical knowledge that Marvin commands. He has provided me with firm ground upon which I may walk my own path, and for this I will always be grateful.

Joseph Daily
Best of Show Award & People's Choice Award Winner, Portrait Society of America 2005

Four years ago, Steve Henderson attended your portraiture workshop in Durham, North Carolina. Your energy and teaching encouraged him to pick up his paintbrushes and seriously pursue his fine art again after 20 years in the illustration field. He always speaks highly of both you and of your art.

Shortly afterwards, I joined in as his manager, and in the less than three years that we have been aggressively marketing Steve’s work, much forward movement has been made. The initial success was regional, but the next step was to a national level, and Steve now finds himself represented by Rive Gauche Galleries, Scottsdale, AZ and The Lawrence, Sheridan, OR. Steve has shown his work at the C.M. Russell Fine Auction, the Oil Painters of America Western United States Exhibition, and numerous venues for the American Society of Marine Artists.

We are both grateful for that workshop four years ago, as it impelled Steve into a direction that he had been wanting to go for a long time.
Carolyn Henderson

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