Student Feedback & In Class Artwork
Studying with Marvin is beyond invaluable. It is empowering, opening up a whole new level of game play that makes you realize that the fun has only just begun .
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.
Just when I think I’ve figured it out, I take Marvin‘s class and realize I don’t know anything. Taking his class is like getting the golden ticket in a Willy Wonka bar, you get a tour behind the scenes of a genius. The only thing that rivals his talent as a painter is his passion as a teacher. I was in my final semester at SVA when covid hit and thought my career was over because I would have to settle for stupid zoom classes. BUT, only Marvin Mattelson would invest all his time and money into as much technology possible to make the zoom class even more educational than a regular "hands-on” class. He currently has a multiple-camera setup, so you can see every aspect of his craft. Extreme close-ups of both his canvas and his palette that you would never get in an in-class setting. If you want to take your painting to another level, even if you are currently a master, take this class.
When I started studying with Marvin during my freshman year at SVA, I was immediately blown away by the unimaginably massive wealth of wisdom and insight he carried, which he shared in whole with any student wise/openminded enough to listen. I connected with his style of teaching rapidly - that being a teaching style rooted in a vast and deep understanding of the principles that guide a blank canvas to one of beauty, truth, and sublimity.
When Marvin moved his teaching online due to the pandemic, the thing that was most impressive to me was not necessarily the top notch, jaw dropping, one of a kind, multi camera view virtual painting classroom he created, but rather his inner drive for mastery and excellence that birthed said above into being. That is what constantly inspires me about Marvin; it's his unstoppable drive for excellence, in relation to his teaching methods, the progress of his students, his own work, and his life as a whole - this is undeniable to anyone that studies with him.
I've spent time studying with Marvin both in-person as well as through Zoom, by way of virtual classes and a one-on-one mentorship. Having experienced both sides of the coin, I can say with absolute certainty that not only does his teaching translate just as well virtually as it does in person, but virtual study actually surpasses in-person study due to the variety of complicated yet elegant video streaming techniques Marvin utilizes - in turn, this supercharges the student's learning.
Under the guidance, critique, and insights from Marvin, I was able to make a jump in my skill level that otherwise might have taken many more years, decades, or even another lifetime, and it was all due to the profound core principles of picture-making that Marvin generously breaks down for his students.
Over the past two and a half years, Marvin has significantly changed my life. As I continue to study with him, I can only imagine what my future as an artist, and as a human being, holds in store.
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.
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.
I've been painting for 40 years, seriously painting portraits for 30, and making a living doing them for nearly 20. When I took Marvin's class for the first time last fall, I felt like a fish out of water. I realized I had no idea what I was doing. Although I could get it right often enough through sheer tenacity, I had little understanding of the principles underlying that ability to get it right -- the "why" of it.
In my other life I was a trial lawyer, and as part of that experience I came to know Gerry Spence, who some say is the last century's greatest trial lawyer. He started a college for trial lawyers in the mid-nineties at his ranch in Wyoming. He said when he first started it he invited big name trial lawyers as faculty. He soon learned this was a disaster, none of them knew why they were good. When students would listen to them, they would simply try to be like them in hopes they could be "good" too. But at best they would never amount to more than a second rate copy of the master they sought to emulate. Gerry, like Marvin, broke away from this model, because, as Gerry put it, "If we trained brain surgeons the way we train trial lawyers, corpses would be piled in the streets." The same would be true if we trained brain surgeons the way we train portrait artists.
I've studied with and painted with some of the artists considered the greatest living masters. My main teacher was, and still is, one of the top producing artists for the top portrait brokers in the country. I've spent decades painting 4-6 hours a day and not really getting any better. However, Marvin is the first person I've encountered who could break the painting process down into logical steps. He describes systems that have been the underpinnings of realist art for centuries. These systems are founded in logic and observable facts, which, when applied, produce predictable results. Once mastered, these systems allow the artist immense freedom to develop style and a "voice" to describe whatever the artist chooses. Unlike many of today's ateliers, Marvin doesn't teach a method of painting that mimics his own, or anyone's. He simply offers the keys to understanding what many of the great masters were taught as the basis for their painting strategies.
He is helping me get to where I’ve been trying to get. I think my latest painting is without question the best painting I’ve done. For the first time I feel I am intentionally painting the way I was inspired to paint 40 years ago by the paintings I saw at the Met, the Frick, the Tate, the National Portrait Gallery, etc.
I started taking Marvin's class three years ago, and I am so glad that I did. What started as one semester soon turned into 3 amazing years of studying under Marvin, a true master of painting.
I have an undergraduate degree in art, and while I thought I had learned a lot during my BFA, most of my painting prior to taking Marvin's class was via trial and error. It wasn't until the first day of Marvin's class that I realized how little I really knew. My mind was blown wide open to the possibilities of what I could further achieve with all the knowledge that Marvin so generously shares. It was like learning a whole new language and suddenly everything about painting started to make sense - how to actually see what is right in front of you, how to effectively translate what you see onto canvas, how to mix life-like colors and achieve the illusion of dimensional form on a flat surface. Whatever your artistic goals are, Marvin's teachings will help you get there. Yes, even if your ultimate goal is not to paint realistic portraits. His teachings can be just as readily applied to illustration or even abstraction.
Marvin's insatiable curiosity and desire for excellence has resulted in an encyclopedic knowledge of painting. He has a deep understanding of not only the techniques but also the mindset it takes to produce masterpieces. And when he doesn't have an answer, he's the first to admit it and will proactively find a solution. He is constantly striving to be the best possible artist so he never hesitates to change up the way he does something when he encounters a better method or tool. He is always staying up to date with the latest technology in not only painting products but also lighting, cameras, adobe programs, apple products, and even coding!
His passion for painting combined with his love for talking about anything painting-related makes him an incredible teacher. Every semester, Marvin takes the class to the Met for a full day breakdown of some of the Met's greatest masterpieces. He analyzes and shares every aspect of the works and the approaches of different master artists, helping students understand the underlying principles of what makes a great painting and how to get there. When in class, he patiently gives customized feedback and advice to each student depending on their needs. He is truly invested in his students and you can see him glowing with pride when he sees his students making progress. His humor makes class all the more fun!
While Marvin's teaching is very logical, it takes time and dedication to truly absorb the wisdom and implement it into your own works. Year after year of practice, my hands are increasingly able to paint what my mind envisions. I feel that studying with Marvin has truly equipped me with the knowledge and mindset to keep pushing the boundaries of my paintings. I am very grateful to have had the chance to learn from him!
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 analogies. 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.
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.
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.
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!!!
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.
... you have to study with Marvin Mattelson to truly get what he has to offer. He's one of those teachers that has the power to alter your entire conception of reality. I know that sounds like the brainwashed, hyperbole of a former student. Truly, I wouldn't be half of what I am without the foundational principles taught to me by Marvin. He is easily the most generous instructor I've ever had. Trying to condense what he means in a sentence or two isn't possible. It took me a couple of years just to believe I "might" understand and a lifetime of applied attempts to get closer to understanding. Understanding after all is doing...
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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!
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.
Marvin! My favorite teacher! You opened up a whole new world for me my friend.
BEST TEACHER OF ALL TIME
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..."
If you really want to learn to paint the figure, the methods you learn by studying with Marvin are invaluable. He is extremely knowledgeable about the craft of painting and breaks down something so extremely complicated into something simple and easy to digest. Studying with him for two years during my undergrad, gave me a solid foundation of information and a methodology to approach the figure. This way I know that no matter what I paint in the future, I have what I learned of value, hue, chroma, and different methods and techniques to create turning, space, and accuracy with my drawing to pull from. It gave me the confidence to push what I thought I was capable of and to take on bigger and more ambitious figure paintings.
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.
I learned more in 2 weeks with Marvin than in 7 years and an MFA in art school.
No bandied cockamamie theories here! All methods and practices are evidenced by example or demonstration. Quality teaching methods with excellent handouts and clarity.
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.
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.
Marvin, I think about you so often; and everything you taught me! Marvin is an excellent teacher. After 15 years, I still remember his lessons.
On my first day of Marvin’s class five years ago, he told us that all he ever wanted to do was paint as realistically as possible. That was music to my ears.
You see as someone who had studied painting and drawing, I’d been encouraged to focus less on honing my craft, and more on creating “meaningful” work. I was told, “you’ve already accomplished realism, you can’t get better, now use your abilities to do something.” That was trying to hear. All I wanted to do was paint as realistically as I possibly could.
And then I found Marvin, whose goals aligned with mine perfectly. His objective was singular: to train his students to paint the illusion of reality. It was beyond even my goals of photorealism.
Marvin not only trained me to paint from life (something I had only done once before), he taught me to see life. He instructed me to look objectively, without cognitive bias, and then to draw and paint what I saw. He brought order and process to my painting, something I had never been taught. And he shared with me the tools to capture the illusions of reality, or as he calls them, the “weapons” to create life-like painting.
If you come to Marvin’s class with a willingness to learn, be prepared to soak up a ton of knowledge. If you come in with a drive to paint better than you ever thought you could, be prepared to accomplish that.
Throughout the years, Marvin has not only been a painting instructor to me, he has served as a friend, confidant, and mentor. I’ve always been able to talk to Marvin openly and candidly. He has a wealth of knowledge that I’ve enjoyed absorbing. He is wry and also hilariously self-deprecating. He is steadfast in his beliefs but is always up for a good rebuttal. He’s constantly challenging himself to learn more and is open to change if that means he will better himself in any way. I really admire all of these things about him.
I’m excited to learn even more from Marvin. I joke that I could teach his class at this point, but the most surprising thing is that every quarter I walk away learning something new. Whether it is about painting, about Marvin, or about myself. Sangeeta PatelI was asked to do a survey on the best workshop I ever took, and I chose the portrait painting workshop that I took with you a couple of summers back. I still use much of what I learned at the workshop. Thanks for your generous teaching!
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.
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
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
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."
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.
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.