Fine Art Portrait Academy
Marvin's Virtual Atelier

Thank you for your years of devotion to figuring out the lost aim of the real masters and for your patience in learning how to teach it. I am certain you have grasped the essential tools those masters relied on in expressing what they chose to express.

- David Terry
In class student portrait painting.
Color Lay-in Painting by Noah Klavens

The Ultimate Traditional Art Training is Now Online

Live Streaming: It's the Ultimate Traditional Art Training

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.
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.

- Noah Klavens

Marvin Mattelson has reimagined traditional art training by tapping into the tremedous potential of live streaming in his Fine Art Portrait Academy Virtual Studio to unravel the secrets of Old Masters' Intelligence. His ability, to present razor sharp insight and analysis while simultaneously keeping it entertaining, thought provoking and humorous, is unrivaled.  

There is a common belief that the best way to learn classical painting is by working from live models in a classroom situation, because so many of today’s well known realist painters were trained in that manor. This idea has been drummed into our heads by the very maestros and institutions whose existence depends solely on that premise. 

But Marvin contends, it is more a function of association, rather than causation, because ultimately, he opines, those who ultimately succeeded within those systems did so because of strong instincts and, yes, despite of their training. The reality is that the successful alumni are greatly outnumbered by those who fell by the wayside. That’s not to say working from life has no benefit, at some point it may if you are properly trained, but it’s far from the optimal way if your goal is to maximize your growth, your potential and especially your chances of success.

Marvin's credo is that anything worth doing, deserves to be done exceptionally well, He had been utilizing live models in his classroom for decades, because he had also bought into the belief system that this was the way (even though he had personally taught himself to draw and paint while working exclusively from photo reference, during his former career as a highly successful commercial illustrator.) When the pandemic hit, and Marvin was forced to shift his portrait painting classes to online learning, he hoped he might find a way to come reasonably close to replicating his students' experience of learning in a live classroom. Never did he anticipate that this new technology could provide him with the tools to not only equal, but significantly enhance and accelerate his students' progress.

The ability to interact with a teacher is invaluable. Unlike videos or “chat based” instruction, the student can ask questions in real time, a format that best replicates in-person learning. In addition, Marvin will answer ANY question, no matter how simple or complex. His explanations are not arbitrary, but based on facts, on proven methods. He demystified many aspects of painting with which I’d been struggling for years.

Marvin works with each student at their level. He makes no comparisons to others’ work, stressing instead the goal of improving, of making each piece better than the piece before.

Unique to Marvin’s course is his state of the art technical set-up (flawless hi-def video connection) and a virtual museum tour that offers invaluable insights and analysis of master works.

In short, Marvin has the ease, confidence, and humor that only comes from years of experience, both as painter and teacher.

- Daphne Miller

Never one to rely on conventional methods or thinking, Marvin has seen the future and he is embracing the power of today's technology in order to facilitate his already unique approach to teaching art. He has long realized that by demonstrating, along with annotating his every action, he could most effectively educate his students. The downside, of course, was that the students, in order to not obstruct each other's views, had to be too far away to see any subtle brush work. To view his demo close up, they would have to patiently wait for whenever the model would take a break and examine the progress first hand.. Now his online students have the ability to observe his paint application, in high resolution, in real time.

Marvin demoing, reference photo and palette screen views
Zoom Screen: Simultaneous views of Marvin demoing, his reference and his palette.

As important as it is to see the paint applied, it's even more crutial to watch as the color is being mixed. In a live studio, this is highly impractical, because it would require Marvin to continuously step away from his easel, walk towards his students and show them each mixture prior to application. In his online studio, he can seamlessly transition between the painting itself, his palette,
and a multi-view of all cameras, with the mere press of a button. Never satisfied, he is always looking to incorporate the latest technological breakthroughs to expand his capabilities.

Over the years Marvin has fielded many requests from students, outside of the New York area, asking if he could provide video instruction. But, one of the major shortcomings of videos is that they eliminate the important interactive component, and thus deny a student the opportunity to ask questions, make comments and especially to receive critiques.

Feedback may very well be considered the most important component of learning. It's not unusual for a student to misconstrue a basic concept or tenet. Marvin can easy breakdown any problems and reinforce the students understanding of the underlying principles.

Technology has transformed the way we live. We regularly deem the norms of decades, if not centuries ago, as impractical and archaic. For the vast majority of us it would seem inconceivable, to disavow: indoor plumbing, to travel cross-country in a wagon train, to raise our own livestock, to communicate through smoke signals or by carrier pigeon, or to refuse any and all modern healthcare innovations to save a life.

Zoom screen shot of Marvin Mattelson painting a demo.
Zoom Screen: Marvin Mattelson Color Mixing

Traditional painting doesn't need to be taught in a studio setting

If and when it can improve our lot, why not utilize technology? The notion that teaching traditional art skills is best achieved in a live studio environment is extremely short sighted. It's a myth perpetrated by a small cadre of people who are desperate to hold onto their outdated beliefs for a wide and self-serving variety of reasons.

When formulating the best way to create the ultimate digital learning experience, Marvin considered every option. Previously, his students had worked exclusively from perfectly lit live models. Since live models in the pandemic were verboten, he had to weigh his options. The advantages of live models are that you can experience their three-dimensionality, you can move forward and see details, and you can observe all of the color nuances. The disadvantages of painting from life are that most models move and as a result, the pose and lighting keeps changing, to some degree. More importantly, painting time is limited by the number of hours the models are actually posing.

Zoom screen shot of Marvin Mattelson painting a demo.
Zoom Screen: Marvin Mattelson demoing

Instead, Marvin felt the best course of action would be to provide his students with color-corrected, high-resolution photo references. Having high quality photos to download enables each student the luxury of working on their paintings without being constrained by model availability. This addresses every issue except for the 3D aspect. However when you study with Marvin, you will learn that creating a three dimensional illusionistic painting, has little to do with copying what you see, whether it's from a live model or from a photo. Marvin also provides instruction on photo techniques and lighting for those who prefer to paint a model of their own choosing.

The advantages of studying with Marvin online far outweigh any minor shortcomings compared to being in a studio environment. For example, every participant can now fully benefit from each of their classmates' critiques, whereas in a large physical studio space, poor acoustics made it impossible to hear, what could be very relevant information, unless you happened to be standing very close to the student Marvin was talking to.

The ability to share his computer screen offers Marvin a myriad of possibilities to help make his point. Photoshop allows him to evaluate and correct each student’s painting-in-progress. Previously, he would either need to choose between telling a student what to do, and hope they interpreted his directions correctly, or show them what to do – by painting on their canvas himself – taking away their ability to make the changes themselves. He now can adjust and correct, to his heart's content, without ever having to touch their painting. 

Marvin uses Photoshop so his students can learn how to objectively analyze and evaluate the myriad of relationships within their compositions and thereby make the appropriate choices to best manifest their pictorial intent.

Zoom screen shot of Marvin Mattelson photoshop painting analysis
Zoom Screen: Photoshop Analysis

The computer also provides Marvin with the means to incorporate a wide range of relevant multi-media presentations, highlighted by his Virtual Museum Tour. Here he analyzes the works of master artists, thus helping his students to understand the underlying concepts which formulate the strategies used by history's greatest painters of illusionistic imagery and form the core principles of his teaching. Never one to rest on his laurels, Marvin is constantly coming up with new and innovative ways to get his message across.

After purchasing cameras capable of broadcasting in high definition 1080p resolution, Marvin was frustrated to learn that the vast majority of Zoom meetings use low-quality resolution, which meant much of the detail his cameras were capable of providing would be wasted. After much digging, he was relieved to learn, that it was possible – for a steep premium – to upgrade to a more powerful router and an Enterprise Zoom account. Since it meant he would be able to harness the full capabilities of his cameras, and thus offer his students a far superior high-quality video feed, he gladly paid the price. To guard against the possibility of a power outage he had a standby generator installed as well.

This new technology has greatly intensified the already incomparable experience of studying portrait painting with Marvin Mattelson. Students from across the globe have reaped the benefits of his vast experience, knowledge and his algorithm for Old Masters' Intelligence. When approached logically, mastery over your painting is attainable. By deepening your understanding and enhancing your ability to make purposeful choices, your potential for growth is limitless.