Portrait Painting: Not Just a Passion, but a Great Escape!

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Is Anything More Dangerous Than a Frustrated Artist?

According to Friday’s New York Times, one of two escaped inmates bartered his portrait painting skills in order to get an unsuspecting guard to smuggle in tools which the convicts used to break out of Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York. The escapee, Richard W. Matt, was pretty talented, as you can see from his above paintings of President Obama and Martin Luther King, Hillary Clinton, Julia Roberts and Marilyn Monroe. All in all, the guard wound up with 12 original paintings. That’s a lot of work for set of needle nose pliers, a screwdriver and a couple of tubes of white paint. Perhaps he broke out in order to attend my 2 week, August 3-14, Portrait Painting Workshop at the School of Visual Arts. Maybe he realized that if he had taken either a class or a workshop with me he may have been able to fully manifest his talents, like so many of my former students. If he had polished his skills, he might have been able to afford a better lawyer, rent a helicopter to aid in his getaway, or perhaps even have avoided a life of crime altogether. Unfortunately for Mr. Matt,  he was killed by police earlier today. A cautionary tale, no doubt!

Until next time…

Marvin Mattelson’s Portrait Workshops – Summer 2015

Take Your Portraits to the Next Level

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Due to my heavy work schedule, this summer I only have time to teach two workshops. Both will be taught at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. These two workshops address, in my estimation, the most troublesome aspects for artists interested in figurative and portrait painting: drawing and mixing color accurately. I will teach you to gain control with far less expended effort. The conventional way artists typically approach these aspects is unnecessarily overcomplicated and convoluted. I know many people feel that they must soldier on by themselves and eventually by putting in enough time they’ll overcome their shortcomings. Based on my experience the way to change your results is by changing your approach. The definition of insanity, according to Rita Mae Brown, is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Regardless of whether you want to paint with broad strokes or great refinement you will learn how to take your work to the next level.

First up is my workshop Realistic Portrait Drawing, an intense 5 day workshop designed to improve drawing accuracy; Monday June 1 thru Friday June 5, 9am to 5pm. Click here to register for Realistic Portrait Drawing.

Drawing lies at the heart of all representational art and unity is the key component. The purpose of this workshop is to develop your ability to approach drawing in a contextual way, where each small part serves the greater whole. We will start with exercises designed to sharpen your ability to see objectively. Working with live models, you will learn how to identify the specific proportions and structure unique to each individual. By weeks end, you will understand what it takes to achieve a full-fledged tonal portrayal of your subject, bathed in light and surrounded by air. Draftsmanship is an easily learned skill. The techniques and approaches you will learn can be readily adapted to any type of subject matter and style. All aspects of this method will be presented logically and coherently. Every step will be fully demonstrated and explained. NOTE: A complete supply list will be sent to you prior to the start of the workshop.

The second workshop is Realistic Portrait Painting. It runs from Monday August 3 thru Friday August 14. There is no class Sunday August 9. The hours are from 9am to 5pm. Click here to register for Realistic Portrait Painting. If you’re interested the course can be taken for undergraduate credits at an additional fee. Click here to register for realistic Portrait painting for college credit.

There’s more to painting a great portrait than capturing a likeness; it’s about creating the illusion of life. Portraiture should reveal the character of the sitter and exude a lifelike essence. During this course, taught by an award-winning portrait artist, you will learn how to analyze, interpret and convincingly portray the human visage. The methodology presented is both broad in scope, yet simple to comprehend. It’s based on the idea that logic, not frivolous rules nor superficial techniques, lies at the core of the greatest portraits ever created. Working from live models, you will discover a simple and straightforward way to achieve accurate drawing and to easily replicate any color you see, particularly the subtle translucent tones of the human complexion. You will also learn how to model form and to simulate the effects of luminosity, illusionistic depth and atmospheric space. All of the information covered in this course will be fully demonstrated and explained. NOTE: A complete supply list will be sent to you prior to the start of the workshop. The Saturday session will be held at The Metropolitan Museum of Art (Saturday, August 8, Hours: 10:00 am-5:00 pm).

Marvin Mattelson’s Latest Oil Portrait Commission: Fang Fenglei

Fang

I recently completed the above portrait painting of Fang Fenglei. It’s a great honor to be chosen to paint such an exceptionally successful gentleman. Mr. Fang has been referred to as “China’s ultimate dealmaker”. I wanted to create a portrait he would be proud to hang in his home in Shanghi.

For me, composition is the most important part of a painting. I give great thought as to exactly what goes where so that my sitter’s legacy can be best served. It was my goal to create a portrait which would showcase the strength of character behind a man so accomplished. Mr. Fang has carved out quite the impressive resume.

He is the Founder and Chairman of Hopu Investment Management and is also Chairman of Goldman Sachs Gao Hua Securities. Mr. Fang has been recognized as one of the “Top Ten Influential Leaders of China’s Capital Market” by Financial Asia and he was also awarded “Asian Financial Service Development Outstanding Achievement” by Euromoney.

I try to make each portrait I paint unique in it’s own right. The best way to achieve this is to utilize elements that most appropriately convey the true sense of my subject.

I felt a simple earth toned background would be the best way to symbolize Mr. Fang’s humble beginnings; he was born the son of a farmer. I suggested that Mr. Fang wear traditional Chinese clothing as opposed to a Western business suit – which is the way he generally appears in photos. When he sat down I asked him to remove his glasses and I used their placement to break up the shape of the white shirt, which I felt could easily have pulled the viewer’s eye downward. I wanted the emphasis on his expression. I’m very proud of how this portrait came out and happy that the Fangs were so appreciative of my efforts.

One of my all time favorite painters, Ivan Kramskoy, said, “The better the composition, the less noticeable it is.” I hope that my painting exemplifies this principle.

Here are some detailed shots for those who like that sort of thing:

Fang-headFang-faceFang_crop_faceFang_hand

Marvin Mattelson Fall 2014 Continuing Education Classes at SVA in NYC

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Nora-detail

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Figure and Portrait Painting in Oil

I’ll be teaching two classes this fall at the School of Visual Arts for the Department of Continuing Education. Each class focuses on both Figure and Portrait Painting and runs for eleven weeks. My Friday class starts September 19th and goes from noon until 6 pm. The Saturday class begins on September 20 and meets from 10 am until 4 pm. These classes are an opportunity to study with me and avoid the expense of being enrolled as a fully matriculated college student.

Every aspect of my oil painting methodology will be fully demonstrated and explained in a concise and logical way. You will learn how to draw more accurately and how to mix the colors you see, particularly with regards to the subtleties of flesh, and so much more. My goal is to demystify the process of painting. Rules bog down the mind and inhibit flow. Understanding and clarity free you to manifest your full creativity. There are always two models posing, one portrait and one figure.

For more information about these classes you can check out my website.
To register for Friday’s class click here. To register for Saturday’s class click here. For more info or to find out about taking these classes for full college credit please call 212-592-2050.

Fine Arts Information Session: Painting, Drawing, Sculpture, Printmaking and Jewelry

There will be an open house at SVA for those interested and I will be there to answer questions and chat. Please stop by if you’re in the area. It’s Tuesday, August 26, 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm at 133/141 West 21st Street, room 602C, 6th floor. Session begins promptly at 6:30 PM. Admission is free.

Above are a couple of shots of the demo I painted in my August New York City portrait workshop as well as a couple of pics of me with my model, Nora, courtesy of Bruce Brand.

Take a Look at Yourself

Are You the Portrait Artist You Aspire to Be?

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Bo Diddley sang: Before you accuse me, take a look at yourself. I think this applies perfectly with regards to our goal of achieving artistic fulfillment. Everyone has very real and legitimate excuses. The truth is, in life, you can either have reasons or results! So before you accuse your circumstances, take a good look at yourself.

I get a lot of inquiries from people asking for advice and hints about how to paint better portraits, often stating that painting is the most important thing in their lives. They ask me, “What colors do you use; what mediums do you mix in with your paints; is there a book you can recommend?” It’s obvious they’re hoping to find a spark or a breadcrumb that will magically convert them into the portrait artist they see in their minds eye.

I recently received an email, from my student Renee Finkelstein. In it was an image of her latest painting, the beautiful self portrait I’ve posted here. Renee signed up for my continuing education course, Realistic Figure and Portrait Painting at The School of Visual Arts a year ago. She followed up that class by attending my annual SVA summer workshop. You may recall that I documented her incredible progress in a blog post entitled You Can Get There From Here.

This is what she had to say in her email:

I told you during the summer workshop that I would send along my email address and a testimonial. For some reason I wanted to wait until I’d finished a new painting to send along as well. So here’s what I’ve done since your class, and the testimonial. I will likely be back this Spring if it works out schedule-wise. Thanks for all you do and I look forward to more! May the New Year be joyous and inspiring!

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And here is her testimonial:

Before taking Marvin’s classes, I was looking at a journey of several years to develop myself as an artist. Several years, that is, if I had unlimited funds, time and patience to research approaches and palettes to see what worked through a great ordeal of trial and error. Taking Marvin’s class allowed me to skip that whole process. He generously offers students the bounty of his years of hard work and research, shows you all that he has found, and allows you to take it from there. Marvin once believed he would never be able to paint for his life. Having come so far, he truly believes that anyone can do it. That is what makes an exceptional teacher. There are other classes that are cheaper, but if you actually want to learn how to paint a portrait, take Marvin Mattelson’s class.

Realistic Figure And Portrait Painting – Fridays 12-6
Realistic Figure And Portrait Painting – Saturdays 10-4

Until next time…