Psyche by Alice McMahon

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“Psyche” self portrait, from the Black Butterfly series. Oct 1, 2008, charcoal/pastel on mylar with under-drawing on grey pastel paper 26 × 22″ Mounted in a vintage frame.

The drafting film is translucent, so I have used a moonstone Canson pastel paper under the film for color. I work on the frosted side of the paper for tooth. The mylar lends a lovely soft effect, beautiful for rendering the translucence of skin. It is a tricky surface to work on, just a flick of the finger brings you back to the clean surface. I load my fingers with charcoal to get the soft gradations of tone.

The myths of the Greek goddess Psyche exemplify a woman’s search for authentic personal growth, a reminder that the integration of our experiences, however sad or frightening they may be, matures and transforms us, like the symbol of the butterfly emerging into the light from its dark cocoon.

The butterfly in the drawing is from the reference photo I captured in Ireland – the Irish peacock butterfly. Psyche is a personification of the soul and was represented in ancient Greek mythology as a butterfly.

The lily is my business logo symbol – for peace and annunciation. It also was inspired in this scale by Georgia O’Keefe’s flower paintings and their feminine connotations.

I specialize in figurative charcoal drawing. My work was recently shown and sold at the Saatchi Gallery in London. Current works delve into the realm of symbolism and magic realism.
All of my drawings are meant to be noble representations of individual subjects, and also bring together a wealth of influences, recognition of art history and myth and a contemporary attitude to create images that are of the moment, but hopefully will also remain relevant in the future.

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  • Carlos Teófilo
    Carlos Teófiloabout 6 years ago

    Wonderful work beautiful Alice.

  • Thank you Carlos! About time I posted something new! :)

    – Alice McMahon

  • Philosophy Lee
    Philosophy Leeabout 6 years ago

    We want more! We want more! :)

  • Dana DiPasquale
    Dana DiPasqualeabout 6 years ago

    wow, this is super. Love the grey tones, the realism, and the fact that it is seen through a mirror! brilliant

  • I love to use old frames, and self-portraits are perfect in mirror frames. Thanks for the great comment Dana! Much appreciated.

    – Alice McMahon

  • Lee Wilde
    Lee Wildeabout 6 years ago

  • Wow, that was quick.Thanks so much Lee!

    – Alice McMahon

  • Martie Venter
    Martie Venterabout 6 years ago

    WOW – this is absolutely amazing, exquisite beauty and powerful symbolism! Encore! Encore!

  • Thanks dear Martie. There are sure to be more in the series, but it may be a while since I’m working on a commission and some Irish paintings next. Time to stew on it a bit. :)

    – Alice McMahon

  • ideasinmotion
    ideasinmotionabout 6 years ago

    now i see it bigger. stunning, stunning woman!

  • Anita Inverarity
    Anita Inverarityabout 6 years ago

    Stunning work- amazing you are x

  • Aw, thanks Anita. :)

    – Alice McMahon

  • mhkantor
    mhkantorabout 6 years ago

    phenomenal alice. an absolute treat to view. the 3d depth and volume especially of the hands, like you could reach out and touch them. wow!

  • Hey thanks! I actually did a bit of changing sinceI posted this, you can see the redone version on my website

    Thanks for the fav as well! :)

    – Alice McMahon

  • modernlifeform
    modernlifeformabout 6 years ago

    Nice work.

    As you know I’m a big fan of limited colours, so I’m drawn to it.
  • A fav from Dave – must be a winner – xx!!

    – Alice McMahon

  • Hidemi Tada
    Hidemi Tadaabout 6 years ago

    this is really wonderful work!

  • Thank you for all of your kind comments Hidemi.

    – Alice McMahon

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