Marc Chatov – Drawing on the Soul of the Subject

Marc Chatov was the Best of Show winner for NOAPS Spring 2016 Online International. His painting Goldfinch was sold as a result of the exhibit. We congratulate Marc once again and we are pleased to share with you this article about Marc and his art.

Article written by: Celeste McCollough

When Marc Chatov was just 6 years old he could be found sitting on the floor of his father’s studio drawing pictures. Roman, Marc’s father, would encourage Marc to price his works, which Roman would then buy. Marc’s prices ranged from 25 to 81 cents. Roman Chatov, was Russian- born and classically trained as a muralist, figurative painter, and portrait artist. Marc’s uncle, Constantin Chatov, was also a portrait painter and concert pianist. When Marc wasn’t drawing pictures for his own enjoyment, he was typically found sitting for his father, whose passion for painting was all consuming. Marc jokes “I became an artist so I wouldn’t have to sit for paintings anymore.”

marc4Marc attended his home town college at Georgia State University. Like many traditional artists at that time, he found that what the University taught was in conflict with his passion for traditional realism. He remembers his art teacher telling him, “Realism in painting is dead.” Not satisfied with that predicate, Marc began a serious apprenticeship with his father, thus initiating his career as a representational artist. In addition to attending Art Students League, Marc studied and copied the masters and consumed every art history book he could find.

In conversation, Marc reveals the depth of his passion and knowledge. He talks art history like most people discuss current events. His students prize his knowledge and uncanny ability to spot their affinity with particular painters in the annals of art history, which enables him to suggest artists they should research and study in developing their own personal expression.

mc-the-old-grinder-aka-the-ol-coffee-mill-e1439569263718Although Marc is widely known as a painter of people, he also loves to paint still lifes. “I find the still life to be the most biographical form of art. A still life yields information, not only of the time period, but also of the taste and personality of the artist. I’m drawn to objects that have a history or a story – materials made by hand, hand thrown pots, cups, woodworks – to me they have the creator’s touch, feel and personality. Sometimes I’ll deliberately juxtapose objects that I love, like the antique coffee grinder, against a plastic coffee bag that is totally manmade and objectively cold. We had the Stone Age, the Iron Age and the Bronze Age; now we’re in the Plastic Age. ”

When viewing his portrait works, one can clearly see that Marc employs no set formula. Rather, each piece stands alone. Marc says an individualized approach to each painting is important, because “each person is different; I try to go beyond likeness to capture the essence of the person.” His subjects have said he has an ability to capture an image that seems to depict their very souls.

chatov-1While Marc acknowledges the importance of the spiritual aspects of his life, when it comes to successful works of art, he goes directly to the nuts and bolts of his craft. In particular, Marc points to skillful drawing as the lynchpin of all that he does. For this reason, he incorporates drawing into his daily process and practice in numerous ways.

Marc says he usually starts his day with thumbnail sketching, and
it is not unusual for this sketching process to point him in the
direction of his day’s work or of future works. For the thumbnail sketch, Marc is apt to use whatever medium is at hand – pencil, charcoal, or ballpoint pen. “The important thing is to allow the mind to wander and play without too much editing.”

mc-goldfinch-e1458576591520Likewise, if he has a model that day, he often begins his work with an hour or more of 30-second to 5-minute gestures. Marc maintains that gesture-drawing is important because one must find and express the essence of the pose immediately. He often tells his students, “What if you’re on a bus or train and you see that pose that you have to get down? You may have 5 minutes to get it down in your sketchbook, or you may have 30 seconds. You never know. The more you practice quick gestures, the better you will be prepared to capture the necessary information immediately.”

Moreover, when working with a model in the studio, the initial gesture drawings often help Marc to identify and design a pose that will bring out the best from the model. From there, the process can be very unplanned and organic.

marc-2Marc’s recent work, Goldfinch, started with such a process of gesture drawing. When he saw the model with arms uplifted, he knew he had a pose that would form the basis of the painting. “Although most of my paintings start with an idea and drawing sketches, often times, for me, the creative process is not completely preconceived.” This painting, started from a moment’s gesture. Then, it sat in the racks for two years before he had his “Aha!” moment to finish it. While the piece started as a nude figurative pose based on a gestural work-out, on a later date, his favorite model, Eden, showed up at his studio wearing this costume. Upon seeing her, the pieces fell into place and the painting took off.

“Goldfinch” recently won BEST IN SHOW at the National Oil & Acrylic Painters Society International competition as well as PORTRAITURE AWARD OF EXCELLENCE at the Oil Painters of America 25th Annual National Exhibition of Traditional Oils 2016.
Marc also believes in the importance of drawing for drawing’s sake. He currently is working on a drawing of a cast of Ariadne. The cast stands in the corner of his studio, and he has spent

countless hours losing himself in working and refining the drawing in charcoal. Why spend so much time on the drawing of a cast? Marc, who has painted the portrait and figure for more than forty years, finds this a necessary part of maintaining and improving his skill in capturing the precise likeness of the subject. In a sense, he says, you can “fake” a likeness in paint. It is in drawing that one discovers the true nuance of the subject.

For Marc Chatov, the ability to capture the essence of a subject starts and ends with drawing. In his view, one can never draw enough.


See NOAPS Spring 2016 Online International in our website at:

NOAPS Fall 2016 is now taking entries. See the prospectus at:



This entry was posted in Exhibitions, NOAPS Artist Members, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Marc Chatov – Drawing on the Soul of the Subject

  1. What a great article illustrating the value and importance of drawing as the backbone of great artwork!

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