mid-relief sculpture of the Globe Refiners
The rarity of relief
Sculpting in relief is probably the rarest of art forms. It is difficult to find instruction on it for those wanting to learn the techniques. The courses offered are few and far-between because there is, simply enough, not a high demand for wanting to learn it. At least not compared to the more popular courses; modeling the portrait bust or sculpting from the nude model that every aspiring sculptor wants to learn. The few artists I know of that make bas-relief sculptures professionally are self taught.
Starting in 1995, I was a student at a well known fine art school in San Francisco; the Academy of Art College (now University). Not one of the many fine art classes offered back then focused on bas-relief. In fact, I didn’t see any fine art examples of relief sculpture until I visited Italy in 1998. There, it became obvious, that relief sculpture was once a popular art form. Later, when the internet became available, I began to see wonderful examples of bas-relief. Seeing examples from other artists helped me develop an appreciation and an understanding of how to do it. I began to take it seriously when I realized that relief sculpture had more to do with drawing and painting then three dimensional sculpture. What made it more closely related to painting was that it dealt with perspective.
So how do you learn sculpting in relief? Practice, practice, practice.
What a relief!
The sculpture of the McPherson Globe Refiners was by far larger than any other relief sculpture I had made previously. The sculpture is what is known as a “mid-relief” monument. That is, it was sculpted between bas-relief (flat) and high-relief (3 dimensional). The highest points of the life size forms (from the background) are 8 inches in depth. The forms, essentially, were flattened by slightly more than 50% of real life.
In mid-relief sculpture there are undercuts, unlike bas-relief. Undercuts, in my opinion, are what give a relief sculpture it’s added umph. It’s the dark shadows created from these undercuts that are it’s source.
For more information on the sculpture of the Globe Refiners history, click on portfolio then scroll down to the gallery “Globe Refiners Monument” which highlights the history of the team and the monument in central Kansas. Or visit Visit McPherson for more info on this dominant basketball team from central Kansas.