Marvin Mattelson’s Latest Oil Portrait Commission: Fang Fenglei


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:



  1. Richard Budig says

    Great work, Marvin.

  2. Marvin,
    That is superb! Thank you for sharing it. David

  3. Jason Keener says

    Beautiful! Thank you for taking the time to share it with us.

  4. Perfect.

  5. Lovely, Marvin. I am wrapping up a formal portrait now too. I used a red under painting, which I must admit was scary!! So far reveiws are good, which is always nice. The man himself hasn’t seen it.
    Thank you for the details! I enjoy being able to more clearly see the layers and how they peek and play. I know he is very pleased. The portrait has dignity and quiet authority.

  6. Hi Marvin, This is absolutely fantastic! You can see the power of the man coming through, in his eyes and his posture. I loved reading about your thought process behind the painting. Will try and keep your tips in mind.

  7. Marcia Gorra-Patek says

    Another most auspicious portrait! Marvin, you are one of the greatest!

  8. Kathleen Speranza says

    Marvin this is fabulous! I love the simplicity of the composition and the tight color range. Only the essentials!

  9. Cynthia Brewster says

    Not only the beauty of your composition, including amazing flesh-tones, and drawing, but also your ability to gaze into the soul of the man is fantastically conveyed in your newest accomplishment. As always, so good to see this and hear about how you make this happen! Thank you for sharing the detail of your work. I would love to see this in person!

  10. The beauty and simplicity of the composition, solid drawing skills, but most of all, the play of the silvery edges of the forms against the pinks, peaches and yellow tones of his skin, such beautiful flesh tones, and all with a limited palette. Less is definitely more with you at the helm. What wouldn’t I pay to see a demo of one of your finished portraits from drawing to a complete finish. Hint, hint. You could have a world-wide following. You could reach everyone and not be limited to students who can attend your workshops or classes. Some artists, such as Scott Wadell, take total control of their product, create their own videos and anyone who is interested can download directly from their websites. No middle man 🙂

    • Thanks for the positive feedback about the painting. I would love to do something like that.I’ve gotten many such requests over the years. However, at this point in time I’m just too busy to do it. Someday…

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