Michelangelo painted them in his frescoes in the Sistine Chapel, Monet featured them in his graceful impressionist works, and Picasso reimagined them with blockish faces and limbs.

Townsend Atelier is giving Chattanooga artists a unique chance to contribute to the tradition of nude figure painting-with a twist.

The gallery will host a figure painting marathon class on Saturday, Feb. 16 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.


Artists will have roughly six hours of access to a model in one day to capture the attitude and energy of the model’s gestures and poses, which he or she will hold for 30 minutes before moving into another stance.

“It’s a good discipline for lot of artists,” said Stan Townsend, who owns the gallery and studio space with his wife, Peggy. “Many artists tend to focus in on one area to render a particular spot. This forces them to look on a broader plan and create with larger brush strokes.”

The marathon class grew out of Townsend Atelier’s weekly Thursday night open studios, during which artists of any medium can lessen the economic burden of using a model to create sketches, watercolors, oil, pastels and sculptures by sharing the cost with each other and the studio.

Instructor Mia Bergeron will begin the day with a brief talk and demonstration to show participants how she quickly captures the anatomical features and the light and shadow of a model’s pose. She will also discuss the way in which her thinking and viewing of the form enables her to work in the time constraints.

Bergeron will also work one-on-one with artists throughout the day.

At the end of the marathon, participants will have 10 paintings to keep as experimental work, show in their own gallery space or submit for Townsend Atelier’s annual open student show.

The figure painting marathon is limited to 12 participants. The cost is $95, and students are asked to bring their own large canvas pads. Register online or by calling Townsend Atelier, located at 201 W. Main St., at 423-266-2712.