Marvin Mattelson Illustration Essay

Portrait artist Marvin Mattelson creates classical custom oil portrait paintings for official, corporate and private commissions. His oil portraiture demonstrates a level of craftsmanship and refinement that is unique among contemporary portrait artists. Marvin creates cherished heirlooms that are inspired by the very same sensibilities which guided the great classical masters for over five hundred years. By combining superb draughtsmanship, subtle life-like color and deft paint handling, he brings his subjects to life while revealing their unique character. If you wish to immortalize a cherished family member, recognize a momentous career achievement, or give a truly incomparable gift, now is the time to commission Marvin – one of America's most accomplished and gifted classical realists – to create an extraordinary, unique, and timeless work of art.

Selecting the best possible portrait painter to create your commission is a significant decision since a painted portrait can be seen well into the future. Marvin is a perfectionist and his credo – that each painting he creates will be his best yet – keeps him constantly striving to reach greater artistic heights. Many of Marvin's clients are avid fine art collectors who chose Marvin to create museum quality portraits that blend seamlessly with their prized collections. Marvin uses only the finest quality archival art materials to insure that you and your family can enjoy your commissioned portrait for generations, because a well crafted oil painting will last for centuries,

Marvin Mattelson has been creating award winning artwork for over forty years. He is a consummate professional whose portrait paintings meld his great passion for painting with his never ending fascination with the human spirit. His oil portrait of Sylvia at Seventeen, is a perfect example of how a modern master of classical realism can incorporate a contemporary aesthetic with a classical painting sensibility to create a truly unique commissioned work of art – timeless yet timely. Marvin uses fine craftsmanship and a sensitive eye to convey the inner essence of his subjects, eschewing the all-too-common pastiche of many contemporary portrait painters: excessively flamboyant brushwork and over saturated garrish color.

Marvin’s fine art portraits are sought by collectors worldwide. His work is in the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Nine of his paintings are included in the National Portrait Gallery’s permanent collection at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. Marvin's portrait work was profiled in the Artist's Magazine's April 2012 issue which highlighted his unique ability to create the most life-like flesh-tone imaginable. His oil portrait of Sydney graced the cover.

On January 11, 2013 Marvin was interviewed on the NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams on the subject of portraiture. While being interviewed by correspondent Kate Snow, he painted a quick 25 minute oil sketch of her.

The Portrait Society of America awarded Marvin's portrait painting of Edward Cardinal Egan First Place in their International Portrait Competition. They chose him as a Merit Award winner and a Certificate of Excellence recipient in previous competitions and gave him four Best Portfolio awards. He was also a finalist in the American Society of Portrait Artists Competition for an unprecedented three consecutive years, receiving both Second Place and Honors awards. He was awarded Honorable Mention in the Artists Magazine’s Portrait Competition for his portrait painting of Julia, one of only six portrait awards selected from thousands of entries.

Since a portrait is ultimately a collaboration between artist and client, the importance of clear communication is essential, therefore Marvin prefers to work directly with you, his client, to insure that your expectations are not only fulfilled, but surpassed. To commission a portrait contact Marvin Mattelson today.



Portrait Painting, Figure Painting & Drawing Workshops and Classes

Portrait artist Marvin Mattelson creates classical custom oil portrait paintings for official, corporate and private commissions. His oil portraiture demonstrates a level of craftsmanship and refinement that is unique among contemporary portrait artists. Marvin creates cherished heirlooms that are inspired by the very same sensibilities which guided the great classical masters for over five hundred years. By combining superb draughtsmanship, subtle life-like color and deft paint handling, he brings his subjects to life and reveals their true character. If you wish to immortalize a cherished family member, recognize a momentous career achievement, or give a truly incomparable gift, commission Marvin – one of America's most accomplished and gifted classical realists – to create an extraordinary, unique, and timeless work of art.

Selecting the best possible portrait painter to create your commission is the most important decision. Marvin is a perfectionist and his credo – that each painting he creates will be his best yet – keeps him constantly striving to reach greater artistic heights. Many of Marvin's clients are avid fine art collectors who chose Marvin to create museum quality portraits that blend seamlessly with their prized collections. Marvin uses only the finest quality archival art materials to insure that you and your family can enjoy your commissioned portrait for generations, because a well crafted oil painting will last for centuries,Along with being an award winning portrait artist, Marvin Mattelson has created a "career altering" approach to teaching portraiture and figurative painting which is broad in scope, yet simple to comprehend. Marvin's teaching is not about tricky techniques and effects. He focuses on the most effective approach for creating realistic imagery that enhances your ability to express your true artistic vision. He believes that solid reasoning is at the core of all great painting, and those who know the truth are forever freed from the bondage of frivolous rules. His teaching goes far beyond mere rote learning. Marvin's unique ability to fully elucidate his thought process, while demonstrating his methodology step by step, allows students of all levels to experience a rapid and profound growth which continues to develop long after completing his course.


Portrait painters from around the world seek Marvin’s guidance. He has been a distinguished member of the faculty at the School of Visual Arts in New York City for more than thirty-five years. He has conducted professional artist training programs and critique sessions for organizations such as the Portrait Society of Atlanta, the New York Society of Portrait Artists, the Connecticut Society of Portrait Artists, the Andreeva Portrait Academy, Syracuse University and the University of Kansas. A class or worksop with Marvin Mattelson is a rare opportunity to study directly with a living master artist. Marvin, not an assitant or a former student, does all the teaching and critiquing himself.

You can view examples of Marvin's SVA students' portrait paintings and figure paintings as well as look at artwork from many of his portrait painting workshop students. You can also read feedback from his former students and get more information on Marvin's course & workshop description page. You can see examples of his in-class demonstrations including a musical version. Look at the teaching schedule below and determine which program is best suited to your needs.


I wanted to share this very flattering post from my former (and future student) Matt Ellrod (I'm including the first paintings he did in my workshop):

Marvin Ma...ttelson is a great teacher and a hoot! I took two week-long workshops with Nelson Shanks in 2005 and 2006, which were nice but the emphasis was on things that I already had a grasp of (seeing the large shapes of light and shade). The color portion was pretty inscrutable (by that I don't mean invalid; just not much explanation ("You have to learn how to see.")

I took two workshops with Marvin in Atlanta, 10 days and the two weeks, in 2007 and 2008. That time span allowed him and the students to paint in layers, which I find much easier (as inspiring as the alla prima demos at the PSA are), and to bring the paintings to a much more refined stage than at the typical art workshop. Marvin was able to elucidate the basic principles of the 3-dimensional illusion of painting which helped me (FINALLY!) understand where I was heading with a painting after the first several hours. And the color theory and practice is incredibly simple and direct!

I took a portrait drawing workshop last summer in NY with Marvin at the School for Visual Arts, and would jump at another painting workshop, but he only does them in NY nowadays and arranging for that much time away from home (and staying in Manhattan for two weeks!) is a stretch. By the time I'm ready Marvin and I will probably both be painting in wheelchairs! Maybe not Marvin - he's a health fanatic, unlike me and my Oreo-dipped-in-Nutella diet.

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