During my two year residency at South Carolina Governors School for the Arts and Humanities,
I was taught by my sculpture teacher, Mr.Thompson.
Other than his memorable rambles, one of the most
important methods I ever learned from Joe was the three-major-masses.
The three major masses consists of... three masses: head, torso, hips.
Most beginning sculptors tend to place their three masses like so:
[Side view of figure]
Though this stacked method isn't inherently wrong, being able to understand the
dynamic posture that is the human is important. The three major masses visually shows
how humans are able to balance without having any types of supports other than our bodies.
The head, torso, and hips have to balance eachother out like a teeter-totter.
[Side view of figure]
The three major masses is an old method utlized since the Greek and Romans and probably far even before that. Everything that is built by humans is essentially a figure, furniture, buildings, and tools, they all draw contours around a part of a figure such as how hammers have grooves that shape the negative space of the fingers but the masses of most of these tools remain static. This method can be utilized outside of sculpture and the figure as well, though if a person is able to place life within a static figure, a person can place life within any object. The three masses allow for still images to become more dynamic, a still frame in time forever captured by the hands of humans. Models utlized the three major masses as well as go against the method to place more emphasis within a static figure. The masses can be subtle as well, a stack of rocks can still create dynamics with implication to the masses, a good example would be Brancusi
My interests in placing dynamism within objects will forever be embedded within my practice, and these three sculptures I made back in high school is just the beginning to what will manifest later on.
This is just the general aspect of the three major masses. There are articles involving
the arms and legs as well.
I will try to contact my teacher one day to find the original printout of the three major masses because I can't seem to find any articles on the internet involving the three major masses.