What if Atlas having to carry the heavens on his shoulder is not a punishment but a prerogative?
Here is, sure enough, how I prefer to approach the Myth.
If the body of Uranus, father sky, pressed against the beloved body of mother earth Gaia, was allowing the birth of the first generation of beings, the Titans, it was also denying them capacity to move, that is, to evolve.
In other words, space between earth and heavens being a necessity, it must be secured, granted, and protected.
On Atlas' shoulder the world in motion counts!
Now that my heart and mind are in the right place I can start sculpting...
First version: Titanesque enough yet not concerned enough about being The Space-Keeper.
Second version: Atlas' attention is directed to the heavens. The 'heavens-weight' moved from being carried by Atlas' body mass alone to being carried by his attention.
This shift allows me to bring further emphasis to his space-keeepr role.
Could it be that a mountain (Mount Atlas) can play the role in the eyes of anyone who, innocently, is well aware that any collapse of the heavens would be the ultimate dis-aster?
By the way, working on Atlas' figure is so much a work in progress that those original(s) creation(s) did not survive my destruction...
I hope I can soon present the Art Lover who got me deeply involved with this intriguing mythological figure with a well born and mature sculpture !