Commissioned Portrait by Marvin Mattelson
What is it that distinguishes Marvin Mattelson's teaching?
Encouraged by Michelangelo's words that, "A man paints with his brain, not with his hand," he has devoted his life to uncovering the mindset of the master artists he most admires: Anthony van Dyke, Rembrandt, Sir Henry Rayburn, Sir Thomas Lawrence, William McGregor Paxton, Ivan Kramskoy, Joseph Rodefer Decamp, Jean Leon Gerome, Peder Mark Monsted and William Bouguereau.
His teaching is the antithesis of the way classical painting generally is and has been taught. He challenges the belief that only by working from live models in a studio space is The Way! Marvin feels the advantages of his virtual studio far outweigh any minor disadvantages. Since we utilize technology in every aspect of our lives today, why should it be avoided when teaching realistic painting? If 17th Century artists were privy to modern advances, would they really be eschewing electricity, antibiotics and/or indoor plumbing? Always searching for the most effective and efficient methods to communicate, Marvin has successfully incorporated digital photography and photo processing software into both his own work regimen as well as his teaching, and he feels that his approach is a far more profound and effective means to an ends.
Unfortunately the majority of artists today erroneously believe that the pursuit of style and technique will provide all the answers they so desperately seek. Yes, craft is vitally important and is a big component of both Marvin's work and teaching, but ultimately, these are superficial aspects of the painting process and, in the grand scheme of painting hierarchy, they are meaningless without the context of what Marvin refers to as the Old Masters' Intelligence.
When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change..
There have been certain artists throughout history whose works have truly resonated with Marvin. The one commonality is that their paintings appear more alive than life itself. Marvin has spent the last half century searching for the core truths of how these artists were able to achieve their miraculous results. By frequenting museums, auction houses and private collections, he has meticulously examined and analyzed hundreds of original masterpieces as well as numerous unfinished works. In addition, he has spent tens of thousands of hours at his easel putting his theories to the test, as well as sharing and battle-testing his ideas with generations of students.
Marvin Mattelson, is an award winning professional artist and an Art Renewal Center Living Master, who, in addition to his artistic output, has spent the last 50 years teaching at the School of Visual Arts. So traumatized was he by his art school experience, where technical training was considered to be the antithesis of creativity, he didn't even attempt painting for another decade after graduating.
I had a really good teacher. Marvin Mattelson makes the impossible possible!
Once he garnered the courage to try, he quickly realized that nowhere to be found was the kind of deep understanding he sought, because art is taught almost exclusively via rote learning. This is where formulaic approaches, dictated by arbitrary rules and anecdotal explanations, usurp the true essence of creativity - which is about making choices based on each unique situation.
Marvin, on the other hand, utilizes mindful learning. He fully demonstrates each step while simultaneously explaining the reasoning behind his every action, thusly empowering his students with the ability to make their own appropriate choices.