Townsend Atelier has grown to become a Southside mainstay.
If you walk into Townsend Atelier when a class is in session, you won’t be able to stop yourself from lingering in the doorway for a few moments to admire your surroundings. With its exposed brick walls and wooden trusses, the space itself is impressive.
To the left are factory-style windows draped with black cloth, and underfoot is a floor marked with the occasional splatter of oil paint. The room is filled with easels and pedestals and palettes and canvasses. The Townsend Atelier is, in short, a place where any artist can feel at home.
But that hasn’t always been the case. When husband and wife duo Stan and Peggy Townsend founded Townsend Atelier in 2007, the company’s focus was the production of molding and casting materials that they sold online. While they had a strong web presence, the Townsends longed to expand the business to provide workshops for artists.
“We wanted to fill a void for high-quality artist workshops,” said Peggy Townsend. “We wanted to create a space where we could employ talented local artists as teachers—but also bring in renowned artists from across the country.”
The biggest hindrance to fulfilling this dream was a lack of space. For its first three years, Townsend Atelier existed in cramped quarters in the Business Development Center on Cherokee Boulevard. Whenever the Townsends wanted to hold a class or workshop for artists, they had to find a space off-site in order to do it.
But in 2010, taking a leap of faith, Townsend Atelier moved to the corner of Main and Williams streets. This new location provides a better layout not only for art classes, but also for the production and distribution of fine art materials. Since the atelier’s move to the Southside, their art classes have continued to grow in popularity and size, filling the studio to bursting and causing Peggy to fondly nickname the studio “the little space that could.”
In addition to providing classes and art materials, Stan and Peggy stay involved with the community. Townsend Atelier participates in MainX24 each year, though no theme has been announced for this year’s involvement.
The atelier also hosts periodic “Art Throw Downs” in which two talented (usually local) artists paint in front of a live audience. These throw downs are both entertaining and educational, providing the public a unique opportunity to see how different artists approach the same subject.
Though Town-send Atelier began by distributing mold-making and casting materials, they expanded their offerings to correspond with their art classes. As Peggy put it, “Our products mirror the atelier’s mission.” They currently offer a carefully curated selection of products that includes their original mold-making and casting materials, as well as patinas, finishes, and Rosemary brushes.
Townsend Atelier’s products can be used in any number of pursuits. For example, their Knead-a-Mold product can be used to replicate practically any three-dimensional surface—it comes in handy for anyone from sculptors and jewelers to taxidermists and puppet makers.
As for art classes and workshops, Townsend Atelier has you covered. Peggy Townsend outlined the atelier’s philosophy in a few sentences: “We don’t teach a style—we teach fundamental skills. We’re about tradition here, passing down classical techniques to our students.”
The attendees at any given class can range from high school students to retirees to professional artists, and the atelier is looking to offer classes for even younger artists in the future.
Every Thursday, Townsend Atelier hosts an open studio for life drawing with live models. Each session provides a combination of short and long poses, and participants may work at their own pace in any medium.
This Saturday, Oct. 4, will be the first day of a two-day “Oil Painting Bootcamp” instructed by James Courtenay James from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. each day. Later this month, students of art can look forward to two classes instructed by Caleb Goggans: “Landscape Painting, In Plein Air” on Oct. 25 and 26 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and “Painting the Luminous Object” on Wednesdays from 1 to 4 p.m. from Oct. 29 to Nov. 19.
This winter, Mia Bergeron will offer classes for both beginning and intermediate painters, as well as a portraiture class about envisioning human facial structure as planes.
In January, Brett Weaver will instruct a three-day workshop called “Painting the Abstract Landscape.” Pre-registration is required for all classes.
To register for a class or to find more information, call (423) 266-2712 or visit townsendatelier.com.