Marvin Mattelson Realistic Portrait Drawing Workshop

June 5-9 @ The School of Visual Arts in New York City

I’ll be leading a drawing workshop at the School of Visual Arts in New York City from June 5-9 (9 AM- 5 PM daily).

I believe that my workshops are fundamentally different than those led by other people. My main focus it is on changing the way you think about making art. Mark Twain said it best, “When you do what you’ve done, you get what you’ve gotten.” If you want to be a better artist, you need to learn to think like a better artist. It’s not about learning a little trick or two and it certainly isn’t about learning more rules. But don’t worry, the course is packed with more technical information than you could ever imagine.

But why listen to me. Although I’ve been at every workshop I’ve ever led, I’ve never had the opportunity to actually experience one first-hand.  Then it hit me, wouldn’t the best explanation come from a former student who actually participated in one of my drawing workshops. So what follows is the text from an email that my former student, Mary Beth Lumley, sent to me following the workshop she took. I’ve also enclosed some pictures of her exquisite drawing for your viewing pleasure.

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.

Mary Beth Lumley



If you’d like to hear what others have said regarding their experience of studying with Marvin, you can read additional student feedback here.

To attend the drawing workshop please call 212-592-2200 or you may register online now. If you are interested in further information, you can read about the course here.

I’m also leading a 2 week workshop: Portrait Painting: The Real Deal from August 14-25. You can register online as well, or call 212-592-2200.

There will also be an open house at The School of Visual Arts on Thursday, May 11, at 6:30. I’ll be giving a short presentation about my summer workshops. I’d love to see you there and I’d definitely love to see you at the workshop.

Until next time…


  1. I’ve studied with Marvin, and I’m still, 15 years later, appreciative of all I learned. Not just about portraiture, but about life and wisdom overall.

  2. Marcia Gorra-Patek says

    Hi Marvin,
    I’ve received an important portrait commission, Which I’ve worked on for 2 months now (on and off as I teach full time, too). I am just about at the point where I would like to scumble, but have never seen you demonstrate that in the classes I have taken from you, Can you give me some hints or pointers? I’m wondering how I make the oil paint transparent enough, and if I can warm up, cool down, or darken areas (more tanner skin) with scumbling? I would so appreciate some pointers, if you have the time.
    Your forever fan,

    • Hi Marcia, if you were physically present, then you were their for my scumbling demo. Mentally present, we’ll that’s a horse of another color. Asking me to explain it in a few words is like asking if I could synopsize the encyclopedia. There are so many possibilities but I can give you a starting point.

      First of all the underlying layer needs to be dry. You then need to oil out the area to be painted. (I’m currently using Rublev Oleogel not Oleoresgel). It needs to be a barely discernible layer, like what you did for the wash-in. You then scumble on the paint. I use very little paint on my brush, rather than adding oil, like you would in glazing. The Oleogel adds the oil. Based on the color of your base layer and the color of the scumbled paint you can achieve a myriad of effects, however I’m certain that a commissioned portrait is not necessarily where you want to conduct experiments. Good luck.

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