Alla Prima Oil Portrait Painting Mastery Class

I’ve studied with Pietro Annigoni and Nerina Simi, but in my opinion Marvin Mattelson is the greatest teacher. When Marvin demonstrates it’s like traveling back through time and watching Anthony van Dyck.

- John Foote
Alla Prima Painting Class with Marvin Mattelson
4 hour demo life painting by Marvin Mattelson

Marvin Mattelson's
Alla Prima Oil Portrait Painting Mastery
Online Art Class

6 Saturday Sessions*
10am - 4:30pm†
Starting Date:
Spring 2023
Tuition: $525
Class size limit: 15 students

When you do what you've done, you get what you've gotten. 

-Mark Twain

Marvin Mattelson has developed a new and exiting way to paint in the Alla Prima style. It will empower you be more accurate as well as efficient. If you want to experience significant progress with your paintings, then you may want to change your approach, significantly.

When it comes to painting in oils, there are two basic approaches: direct and indirect painting.

Direct Painting: The paint is applied in a single application with the intent to resolve all aspects of the composition with immediacy. It may be referred to as Wet-into-Wet, Premier Coup, (first strike in French), or Alla Prima, (at first attempt in Italian). Direct painting implies a romantic and improvisational association with artistic temperament and spontaneity.

In Alla Prima (direct) painting you must simultaneously deal with drawing, color, value and composition. Marvin has found that the most expedient way to mix accurate color is by utilizing a controlled palette, where premixed colors are arranged by value. Sadly, most Alla Prima devotees use the far more time consuming hit-or-miss open-palette color arrangement. Many employ the Zorn palette, which results in boring and lifeless flesh mixtures, while other try over exagerate intensity to compensate for lack of finish. Their hunt-and-peck, seat-of-the-pants, "You'll know it when you get it!" approach eats into the already limited time frame to which they must adhere.

Indirect Painting: It requires an artist to build up paint layers (a far more time consuming process, since each layer needs to be sufficiently dry, before applying the next). However, it is particularly advantageous when it comes to depicting the translucency of life-like human flesh.

Since both methods have their strengths, it's foolish to debate which, if either, is intrinsically superior. William Bouguereau was an indirect painter, but created head and hand studies for each composition using the direct method, while John Singer Sargent is praised for his Alla Prima approach, but actually built his painting up in layers to ensure accuracy. In truth, both approaches come in quite handy. Although Marvin prefers indirect painting for the unmatched subtlety it's capable of providing, there are times when having the ability to paint directly can be of tremendous value.

My color sensei Marvin Mattelson has openings available for virtual classes. I literally swore that I would never paint before I met Marvin and owe all of my chops to him. I also felt like his lessons gave me a huge leg up and I refer to them all the time at work (as a scenic artist). I really can’t recommend him enough if you’re really serious about understanding the science of color, paint chemistry, drawing, and many more principles in the context of of classical portraiture that can be applied to all visual art.

- Jocelyn Henry

All aspects of this course will be throughly demonstrated using Marvin's hi-tech three-camera virtual classroom setup, where you will see every stroke in great detail with 1080p HD resolution. As you watch onscreen, Marvin will describe his every action and the reasoning behind it. If something needs clarification, you can ask questions immediately and he will happily respond to your every query. When not demonstrating, Marvin utilizes his computer's graphics programs to critique and show you the exact steps you need to take moving forward.

Marvin will demonstrate and explain the following:

• How to achieve greater accuracy in your drawings.
• How to establish the value relationships.
• How to identify and quickly mix each color.
• Proper use of materials and how to achieve technical virtuosity.

The purpose of this class is to provide you with a far more controlled and efficient way to arrive at superior results. Although drawing and color mixing are extensively covered in this Alla Prima class, if you're looking to delve deeper into any of those areas, you may want to consider taking additional classes with Marvin. In his other classes and workshops Marvin teaches the indirect method, which makes it well suited as a learning modality, because it allows you to isolate, focus on and strengthen each of the the component parts of image making. You can read more about Marvin, find more info regarding his virtual classroom,  learn about his teaching methodology, and read about his other classes.

*There is no class scheduled for July 2nd. †Eastern Daylight SavingsTime.

Marvin is now available for mentoring, coaching and portfolio evaluation. To arrange for a one-to-one session, please fill out the contact page form and he'll get back to you ASAP with the details.