This summer, I’ve been taking a class on a more traditional approach to bas relief sculpting with Thanasi Papapostolous on zoom. It’s a very different method.. starting from a flat clay foundation, with a free-hand drawing, then building up the figure and eventually adding a background landscape. Building up rather than cutting away is apparently the classical approach. In the last year, I’ve been building a frame, filling it with clay, drawing a picture, then ‘cutting away’ the excess clay. That’s the stone sculptor’s approach. I am so glad I learned it, but I love this techinque also!
We started with a famous sculpture, Castor and Pollux, but the teacher suggested tweaking it and ‘making it our own’. I knew I desperately wanted to learn to sculpt a landscape background as I am so interested in very detailed bas reliefs!
I added a background based on a very old piece of art, but also used my husband as the model for St. Paul preaching on Mars Hill. I found a model of the altar, “To the unknown God’, and added that, plus a pillar to imply he was standing in the entrance of a Greek temple.
What a fascinating journey! My husband suggested Paul, but then I needed an older figure than a young Greek fellow. So poor Hubby had to be my model. :). What a good fellow!
I still have a some work to do–I haven’t finished the feet yet. I am using Ghiberti’s Paradise doors in Florence, Italy, to help inspire good background sculpting techniques, but also have used Demosthenes as a model for the foreshortened arm and fabric draped around the midriff.