A commenter, responding to my recent post On The Quest For Excellence, said their New Year's resolution was to be a better artist. They cited the following quote:
That which we persist in doing becomes easier - not that the nature of the task has changed, but our ability to do has increased - Ralph Waldo Emerson
I know Emerson was a brilliant guy but, big picture in mind, I think he missed the mark. Yes, it's true, you will get better through repetition, but if you do something badly and you practice and practice, you'll get better at doing it badly. Which begs the question: how do you to learn to do it well? If you're being objective (a huge part in the quest for success, IMO) you first identify the problem and then come up with the solution. However, it's easier said than done, because, had you had that knowledge, there wouldn't a problem in the first place. Therefore, you need to look outside yourself to expand your capabilities. This where a good teacher comes in.
At the height of my illustration career (Time Magazine covers, movie posters, national ad campaigns, etc.) I realized that I wasn't satisfied with the quality of my paintings; I spent the next ten years studying, one day a week, with John Frederick Murray, a former student of the legendary Frank Reilly. Everyone thought I was crazy because I was "so good" but I wanted to be so much better. Reilly's teachings allowed me to fill in many gaps in my approach. Having been self-taught, up to that point, I was amazed to discover that Reilly's methodology synced perfectly with mine.
My former student Martin Wittfooth, one of today's hottest young painters, was mentioned last week in People Magazine. Comedic actress Kaley Cuoco stated that she had recently purchased a large painting of Marty's. When he first came to study with me, he was having modest success with his gallery work, but he too wanted more. He signed up for my Friday class and came every week for three years. Above you can see a recent painting of his and below, you can read what he had to say about his experience studying with me.
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 Wittfooth
Until next time...
Marvin Mattelson is now conducting his classes and workshops online in Full HD 1080p through his Fine Art Portrait Academy. For further information, or to register for an upcoming offering, please follow this link to his teaching page.
Thank you, Marvin. You are an inspiration to us all, as you are the living example of practicing what you preach! I have read many of your essays to my high school students, with hopes.
And now those hopes and dreams are forever dashed? 😉
What you say is very correct. Self taught is really a hit or a miss. I still hope your lessons and teachings are available on DVD for students who live away from USA.
I’m working on it.
Have you considered on-line classes via web meeting and video cams for seeing your students progress? I’ve conducted interviews and held training in-services with this method, and though not as good as being there in person, is not bad. Fairly inexpensive too, if 6 students or less. If the session is not interactive (like doing a demonstration), the audience size can be up to 1000, depending on what package you purchase.
Definitely something to consider. Thanks for putting a bee in my bonnet!
Being overseas myself, I would love to see online or CD lectures, as well. Especially your Met slide show.
Dear Marvin, from my perspective you’re living overseas. So that makes it a bit harder to join a live class. So I also would appreciate to be able to get at least a taste of your (teaching) methodology, for instance by watching a video or joining a webinar.
A video is something I’m definitely interested in doing. I just need to find the time.