Marvin Mattelson interviews himself!
Detail of Marvin’s drawing demo from a previous year:
My 5 Day Realistic Portrait Drawing Workshop at the School of Visual Arts in NYC starts on this coming Monday, June 6th, and runs until Friday, June 10th, so I decided to pose some deeply probing questions to myself so that potential students could get a better idea of why they should sign up today.
Q: Why your workshop when there are so many to choose from?
A: Good question! First you’d be helping me line my pockets with gold. Just kidding, I will receive a check in payment for my services.
Q: No seriously. Why your workshop?
A: I think I offer a different level of understanding than what I’ve come to see in the teaching of others. The majority of teachers give rules and techniques to follow. Me, however, I feel very strongly that unless you know why you are doing something, you’ll never have free will.
Q: That’s a pretty bold statement. Care to explain more succinctly?
A: Yes, it’s like the parable about fishing, the difference between giving a man a fish and feeding him for one day or teaching him to fish and feeding him for a lifetime. Creating art is about making the appropriate choices, moment by moment. Rote reaction to any circumstance makes you a robot at best.
Q: What makes you think this rote way of teaching is so widespread?
A: I see students coming out of learning institutions and all the work looks pretty much the same stylistically. What other conclusions could I draw?
Q: Good point and clever pun (if I say so myself). So what will people walk away with if they sign up?
A: First they’ll have fun. It’s hard to learn in an uptight environment from people who take themselves too seriously. I’m a very irreverent person and I’m an artist because I want to spend my life doing what makes me happy. Being in a relaxed state encourages flow.
Q: Anything tangible beyond this new age mumbo-jumbo?
A: For those who want a more meat-and-potatoes kind of explanation, my students will learn, first, to see more accurately, also a function of being on the moment (Mumbo-jumbo or not…this is key!). They will learn how to convert what they see into a 3D representation on a flat surface. They’ll learn techniques that they can blend into their own way of working. Most importantly they’ll become far more adept at drawing, which is – as Ingres put it – the probity of art. To that end they can have far greater control whether drawing or painting or whatever their end game.
Q: Wow, you make a very compelling argument. I’d sign up for that in a minute. Any last thoughts?
A: Here’s the thing, far too many people get caught up in believing if they can only learn that one elusive technical tidbit, that’s the answer. I know, I’ve been there…and nothing could be farther from the truth. Basho, a Japanese poet said, “Don’t follow in the footsteps of the masters, seek what they sought.” I think anyone would benefit greatly from this approach.
Q: Thanks so much for the interview.
A: The pleasure was all mine!