IF YOU GO
* What: Workshops with Roberto Osti.
* Where: Townsend Atelier, 201 W. Main St., Suite 107.
* When: Friday-Tuesday, July 11-15.
* Fees: $325 for Anatomy of the Head, $235 How to Draw the Body From Imagination, $535 to take both workshops. Does not include lunch.
* Public event: The Human Figure and Today's Art, Friday, 6-8 p.m., Townsend Atelier; free talk and demonstration by Roberto Osti on how the study of the human figure is relevant to making art today. Appropriate for teenagers and older.
* Workshop reservation deadline: Tuesday.
* Information or to register: 423-266-2712 or 1-877-903-1488
* Anatomy of the Head 101: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. July 11, 12 and 13. Robert Osti leads students in demonstrations and hands-on exercises drawing the human head, studying it from a variety of points of view. Students will be guided through techniques and approaches in drawing portraits, such as tonal, structural, graphite, chalk, charcoal and trois crayon technique.
* How to Draw the Body from Imagination: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. July 14-15. Being able to draw the human body without a model is a skill that permits an artist to quickly visualize ideas about a composition. Students will draw the body from a model and from imagination to understand the basic volumetric characteristics of the body and proportional relationships between parts of the body.
Roberto Osti, internationally known New York artist, acknowledges Americans are currently living in "the era of selfies."
Whether it's the kid down the street's self-portrait in a Facebook post, Kardashian kin living out their lives on TV, or soccer players and fans at World Cup games making a statement with their haircuts, Osti says they all are trying to project a specific image of themselves.
"The 'image' is central in our culture at this moment, and we are not going to settle for an abstract portrait of ourselves," says the artist.
For this reason, he says, there is a national resurgence in a more traditional approach to art-making and how to draw the body.
This approach espouses the belief that the study of the body, knowing how to accurately draw it, is key to making art. And that's where Osti excels. He has been master artist lecturer in figure anatomy at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia since 2006.
Osti will lead two workshops on drawing the body's anatomy and its musculature this coming week at Townsend Atelier in Chattanooga. He's back by popular demand after leading a workshop last summer, says owner Peggy Townsend. That course covered the full body, she says, and participants asked that Osti be brought back to focus on just the head since Chattanooga is home to numerous portrait artists.
"We had sculptors, high school students and a variety of people come to our figure-drawing class," Townsend says. "It was a great primer for some people on anatomy and a refresher for others. The goal of his workshops is to make better figurative art by understanding the muscles of the body. It's almost like a medical anatomy class because he is so thorough."
His artwork of the body's musculature is textbook perfect -- a reflection of the 25 years he spent as a medical illustrator working closely with surgeons to create images for medical publications. Osti says he studied anatomical and surgical drawing at the University of Bologna and anatomy for fine art at New York Academy of Fine Art.
"I am fascinated by the body but from an aesthetic point of view; my approach to it is as a fine artist and not scientific," he says. "My approach is called 'sculptural method' because it focuses on the structural aspect of the form. Understanding the structure, the planes, the volumes of the form permits us to create more realistic and solid images with a better three-dimensional effect."
Townsend says Osti will be the guest of honor at a free community event Friday night at her studio. The artist will give a talk and demonstration, she says, with images of anatomy and drawings of the body throughout history to present day. He will speak on the relevance of studying figurative art today.
"We're passionate about the atelier method and providing a foundation and classical skills for all artists," says Townsend. "Roberto fits in beautifully with what we do and he doesn't come to the South very often, so we are lucky to have him here."
Contact Susan Pierce at email@example.com or 423-757-6284.
Susan Palmer Pierce is a reporter and columnist in the Life department. She began her journalism career as a summer employee 1972 for the News Free Press, typing bridal announcements and photo captions. She became a full-time employee in 1980, working her way up to feature writer, then special sections editor, then Lifestyle editor in 1995 until the merge of the NFP and Times in 1999. She was honored with the 2007 Chattanooga Woman of ...