Instant Karma! (We All Shine On) by Alice McMahon

Currently unavailable for purchase

Available to buy on…

Instant Karma! (We All Shine On) by 

From the “Black Butterfly: The Muse” series, installation portrait of John Lennon, charcoal on Mylar drafting film, 15 × 14” in vintage lighted corner shrine box, overall 20 × 18 × 10.” The translucent Mylar allows the backlighting to shine through the drawing. There is a small installation on the built-in shelf of the box: a traditional Indian oil lamp and incense burner, and a photo of Lennon with second wife Yoko Ono, from the cover of “The Wedding Album” (1969.) There will eventually be a real decoupage butterfly on the upper portion of the box. In the photo, I have taped a temporary one to show placement.

<span style="font-weight:bold;">John Winston Ono Lennon</span>, (October 9, 1940 – December 8, 1980) was an English rock musician, singer, songwriter, artist and peace activist and one of the founding members of The Beatles. My installation piece is inspired by the John Lennon 1970 single Instant Karma! (We All Shine On) and incorporates references to the Beatles trip to India in 1968 to study Transcendental Meditation. Lennon’s resemblance to Jesus in the portrait is intentional as an acknowledgement of his March 4, 1966 statement to the press: “(The Beatles are) more popular than Jesus now; I don’t know which will go first-rock ‘n’ roll or Christianity.”

In February 1968, the flower-power counterculture was alive and well, flourishing in a village called Rishikesh in the Himilayan foothills. There, the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was offering a three-month course in transcendental meditation.

While other swamis were offering traditional spiritual instruction in modest huts along the banks of the Ganges, the Maharishi had constructed an air-conditioned ashram — surrounded by barbed wire — for the comfort and privacy of celebrity acolytes such as actress Mia Farrow, Beach Boy Mike Love, folk singer Donovan and, of course, John, Paul, George and Ringo.

<span style="font-weight:bold;">Symbolism:</span>

In Hinduism, the lotus (water lily) primarily represents beauty and non-attachment. The lotus is rooted in the mud but floats on the water without becoming wet or muddy. This symbolizes how one should live in the world in order to gain release from rebirth: without attachment to one’s surroundings. Water has been an object of worship since a very early age among the Hindus, and plays an important role even today in Hindu religious rites. During all purification rites, water is sprinkled on the object to be purified. The butterfly is symbolic to me as Lennon’s muse, or inspiration, and in this case, is also a symbol for transformation in the afterlife.

I used several different reference photos of John Lennon combined to create this unique image. The clouds across his forehead are taken from the cover of Lennon’s “Imagine” album. The mosaic backdrop is from photos of the John Lennon Imagine memorial mosaic at Strawberry Fields in Central Park in New York City. The Lotus reference was taken by my good friend <a href=";.

I listened to John Lennon’s music, and covers of it as well, throughout the drawing process. I was frequently moved to tears by the fact that so many of the lyrics are still relevant today.

~ Imagine Peace! ~ Alice

(For my September solo exhibition, the installation will be placed in a darkened corner of the gallery, and there will be more items related to John Lennon’s life included on a pedestal.)

<span style="font-weight:bold;">Studio music: </span>

“Imagine” John Lennon
“Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur”
“Across the Universe Soundtrack”

Instant Karma! (We All Shine On) lyrics

Songwriters: Lennon, John Winston
Instant Karma’s gonna get you,
Gonna knock you right on the head,
You better get yourself together,
Pretty soon you’re gonna be dead,
What in the world you thinking of,
Laughing in the face of love,
What on earth you tryin’ to do,
It’s up to you, yeah you.

Instant Karma’s gonna get you,
Gonna look you right in the face,
Better get yourself together darlin’,
Join the human race,
How in the world you gonna see,
Laughin’ at fools like me,
Who on earth d’you think you are,
A super star,
Well, right you are.

Well we all shine on,
Like the moon and the stars and the sun,
Well we all shine on,
Ev’ryone come on.

Instant Karma’s gonna get you,
Gonna knock you off your feet,
Better recognize your brothers,
Ev’ryone you meet,
Why in the world are we here,
Surely not to live in pain and fear,
Why on earth are you there,
When you’re ev’rywhere,
Come and get your share.

Well we all shine on,
Like the moon and the stars and the sun,
Yeah we all shine on,
Come on and on and on on on,
Yeah yeah, alright, uh huh, ah-.

Well we all shine on,
Like the moon and the stars and the sun,
Yeah we all shine on,
On and on and on on and on.

Well we all shine on,
Like the moon and the stars and the sun.
Well we all shine on,
Like the moon and the stars and the sun.
Well we all shine on,
Like the moon and the stars and the sun.
Yeah we all shine on,
Like the moon and the stars and the sun.

Video here

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.

View Full Profile


  • danita clark
    danita clarkover 5 years ago

    wow this is really brilliant ! beautiful artwork ! what an honour to john lennon x

  • Funny, I got a certain feeling as soon as I finished it – goosebumps! Thanks darling danita!

    – Alice McMahon

  • Rhinovangogh
    Rhinovangoghover 5 years ago

    Alice! I want this! You get better and better! In the words of Mark Farner(GFR) Keep it shining on and on….Wow! Hugs and well wishes from my family to yours.

  • Rhino – the piece will be for sale come September 18th ;) Thanks and best to you and yours as well!

    – Alice McMahon

  • Angie Muccillo
    Angie Muccilloover 5 years ago

    Wow outstanding work Alice!

  • ourjrny
    ourjrnyover 5 years ago

    I do hope you add this brilliant work of art to Dimensions and Impressionist Art, it is very beautiful and a wonderful tribute for John Lennon!

  • Thank you Sharon, will check out the group and your portfolio too!

    – Alice McMahon

  • Janne Kearney
    Janne Kearneyover 5 years ago

    Just awesome darlin’ and what a perfect frame too! a definate fave!

  • Janne, a fave from you makes my day! Thanks!

    – Alice McMahon

  • Sri Parker
    Sri Parkerover 5 years ago

    that’s so cool

  • YOU’re so cool! (Just took a look at your work ;)

    – Alice McMahon

  • WonderlandGlass
    WonderlandGlassover 5 years ago

    mere words are woefully inadequate to express the feelings and deep appreciation for the power and effect of this work. Your continuing expressive growth is staggering. The wealth of information is astounding and informative for those whose knowledge of the man and influences is limited. Additionally, the sharing of your artist’s vision and references is insightful and illuminating… a real bonus. My friend- you keep elevating yourself and your expression and you most definitely shine on! Peace

  • Doug, I never know how to thank you for your lovely comments. So, I’ll simply say thank you! I asked Linda’s permission to use the lily photo, but have not gotten a reply since she’s on her vacation, I suppose. I hope she won’t mind! I captured some lilies myself a couple of weeks back, but none were as beautifully formed as her capture. Enjoy the day friend!

    – Alice McMahon

  • Simon Aberle
    Simon Aberleover 5 years ago

    Great work of a great musician and politically outspoken man.
    Love what you’ve done with this :)

  • One of my heroes for sure! Thanks so much Simon!

    – Alice McMahon

  • seductress
    seductressover 5 years ago

    So very beautiful!! He continues to be inspirational!

  • Lennon has inspired me and even my kids! I enjoyed your pretty posy pics, shine on seductress!

    – Alice McMahon

  • Anita Inverarity
    Anita Inverarityover 5 years ago

    Beautiful work Alice- PERFECT x

desktop tablet-landscape content-width tablet-portrait workstream-4-across phone-landscape phone-portrait

10%off for joining

the Redbubble mailing list

Receive exclusive deals and awesome artist news and content right to your inbox. Free for your convenience.