• Steven Heller

The Daily Heller: Drawing Faster Than the Speed of Sight

Stephen Alcorn is always exploring new ways to teach the oldest art form. Recently, he introduced to the VCUarts curricula an interdisciplinary course titled Drawing from Life at the Speed of Sight. I asked him to explain the premise of the method, and to share a sampling of the speed drawings he has been creating alongside his students in this dynamic new course. In Alcorn's program at Virginia Commonwealth University, the students experience what he calls a “mystic union” of the senses. This “marriage” of two disparate yet complementary faculties “combines Apollonian analysis and measurement with Dionysian intuition and abandon.” He goes on to explain:


"To achieve the learning objectives, I teamed up with Dr. E. Gaynell Sherrod of VCUarts Department of Dance & Choreography: a realm in which movement reigns supreme, all things static fall by the wayside, and the sound of music from all corners of the world fills the air.
"The course opens with a recap of the fundamentals of gauging and transcription, the foundation to the more interpretive approaches that involve space, light and time. The result is a semester-long, incremental transition from academic processes of transcription to a series of increasingly intuitive mark-making practices. Over the course of this period, the students create a remarkably fresh series of studies depicting VCUarts dance majors as they learn, train and rehearse under the tutelage of Dr. Sherrod.
"By drawing the human figure in perpetual motion, my students learn to transcend the constraints of the inanimate approach of conventional life-drawing practices. Instead, they forge fresh, new connections to the collective memory of our once-vibrant but now dormant prehistoric mark-making sensibilities."

Twenty-nine Figure Studies; drawn from life at the speed of sight; 14" x 11" sketchbook entries; mixed media on paper



Twenty-one Figure Studies; drawn from life at the speed of sight; 14" x 11" sketchbook entries; mixed media on paper



Nineteen Figure Studies; drawn from life at the speed of sight; 14" x 11" sketchbook entries; mixed media on paper



Fourteen Figure Studies; drawn from life at the speed of sight; 23" x 30"; mixed media on

paper



Fifteen Figure Studies; drawn from life at the speed of sight; 23" x 30"; mixed media on paper



Twenty-six Figure Studies; drawn from life at the speed of sight; 23" x 30 in"; mixed media on paper



Fifteen Figure Studies; drawn from life at the speed of sight; 23" x 30"; mixed media on paper



Ten Figure Studies; drawn from life at the speed of sight; 23" x 30"; mixed media on paper



Thirteen Figure Studies; drawn from life at the speed of sight; 23" x 30"; mixed media on paper



Five Figure Studies; drawn from life at the speed of sight; 23" x 30"; mixed media on paper



Eight Figure Studies; drawn from life at the speed of sight; 23" x 30"; mixed media on paper



Eleven Figure Studies; drawn from life at the speed of sight; 23" x 30"; mixed media on paper



Twelve Figure Studies; drawn from life at the speed of sight; 23" x 30"; mixed media on paper



Fourteen Figure Studies; drawn from life at the speed of sight; 23" x 30"; mixed media on paper

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