Marvin Mattelson lays down his palette and uses his words

Marvin Mattelson's Fall CE Classes at SVA

September 10, 2013
Jeffree by Kathleen Speranza

I'm teaching two continuing education classes this fall. Rather than me harping on why you would greatly benefit from studying with me I thought I'd have one of my students share her experience. The above portrait was painted by my former student Kathleen Speranza. It's an outstanding portrait and I'm so proud of her. When I saw this painting posted on Facebook I immediately asked Kathy for permission to reproduce it here. And this was her response:

 I would be honored to have my painting up on your blog!  I love reading it and anything you might say would be great.  For my part there were many things that I learned in your class that are very visible in the portrait of Jeffree.  Most important  would be the large mass organization and the clear division between light and dark shapes.  Keeping the shadow masses in the front of the face joined together aids in the impact of the gaze which is obscured but implied by the turn of the head and the light on the lashes.  Free is a very gentle, soulful individual and I thought this use of light helped to depict those qualities.  The color shapes are pretty obvious and are not fully covered by subsequent layers of paint.  This may be of use to students since the process is "on the surface" For me, your class jump-started an investigation of classical form and composition in all of my work.  It has been a great way to simplify and organize my compositions in still life, and landscape as well as portraits and figures.  Something I never learned in art school!  The palette is of course the most complex part of the process and has been of enormous help.  There is much more but that's probably enough for now. - Kathleen Speranza
Jeffree (closeup) by Kathleen Speranza

Kathy took a two week workshop with me about five years ago. At the time she had the following to say:

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
Jeffree (detail) by Kathleen Speranza

The bottom line is, reaching your full potential doesn't necessarily involve years of servitude. It's about understanding. Kathy took a two week workshop — the equivilant of a one semester continuing education class — and it transformed her approach to painting. Just sayin'!

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.

Until next time…

Previous Wordpress blog Comments

Lori Hollander says

September 10,2013

Marvin,your students consistently turn out beautiful work. I also learned more in one term with you, than all my years studying art. Thank you!

Marvin Mattelson says

September 10,2013

Thanks Lori.

Diane Russell says

September 10,2013

This beautiful portrait makes me want to study with you again! Your workshop was a life changing experience for me… but I know I was just scratching the surface. I hope to study with you again, but in the meantime, your blog posts are wonderful reminders.

Marvin Mattelson says

September 10,2013

I think the 2nd time through you’ll pick up a lot of nuances you may have missed the first time through. There’s only so much each of us can absorb. You have done a splended job with what you picked up when you first took the workshop. I can’t even imagine what time #2 would do. I will look forward to finding out one day.

Nanci France-Vaz says

September 26, 2013

Marvin, Please check ou the comments I made on Underpaintings blog about you.
They are sincerely heartfelt. You are a true master artist and teacher and I LOVE this portrait!!!! Lori is right…one term with you and students will learn more than in 20 years with anyone else. Although, a few years with you is the ultimate!!!! Thanks for being my foundation teacher and then some after SVA:)

Marvin Mattelson says

September 26, 2013

Thanks so much. Your heartfelt comments mean a lot to me.

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