Alice McMahon

Galena, United States

I specialize in figurative charcoal drawing. My work was recently shown and sold at the Saatchi Gallery in London. Current works delve...


My blog

Artist Statement

I’m passionate about the act of making art, about capturing the deep meaning expressed in a single glance, or the effects of atmosphere that can color emotions.

All my life I have been fortunate to live with musicians. Music and what I listen to while I paint have a significant power over my process, in what inspires me, in the rhythmic motion of the strokes, in the feelings incorporated into a piece, and is even reflected in the popular song titles of the finished works. I’m also influenced by the paradox of tragic joy that is my Irish heritage.

I enjoy being in touch with the work, and use my fingers to push pastels, charcoal or graphite over the entire paper surface in a painterly fashion. I choose to depict contemporary places and people, but my goal is to use skill and imagination to produce works that portray the more enduring qualities of the world and of the human condition.

The Black Butterfly Series

Working on this series of charcoal on mylar works has been an intense period of introspection. I think this was partly because of completing my earlier “White Album” series of portraits of my kids, and feeling more like concentrating on myself at last, but it has also been a time of personal growth and transformation.

There were several unusual spiritual moments for me while beginning the series. One was a near out of body experience while on a walk in the park, which spurred me to write my first poem in 30 years. A few days later, I started seeing black butterflies. Not so unusual in summer I suppose, but I don’t remember seeing this particular type in Chicago. A black butterfly fluttered around me several times while I was walking. It happened again a couple of days later, this black butterfly flying in loops around me as I walked. That inspired my second poem, “Black Butterfly” and I decided to incorporate a black butterfly into the first drawing of the series.

The series has evolved and the butterfly incorporated in each work has emerged as a symbol of the artist’s muse. I often depict an artist of any discipline as the subject of these works, either someone iconic in pop culture as Marilyn Monroe in my version of “Aphrodite”. The subject may be myself or my husband, who is a musician, or artists I have met online or in the Chicago art scene.

The series will be shown in a solo show in Chicago in September of 2009.

The White Album series

The White Album, my most recent work, is literally a labor of love, twenty years in the making. A quirky “photo-realism” album of my three teenagers, it is foremost a portrait of adolescence. My youngest son is just entering his turbulent teens; middle-child daughter a promising artist at 17-going-on-27; the eldest son, an adult of 20, started his college career at Kent State University, Ohio.

I was on the threshold of my own teen years when the Beatles were the soundtrack for the hippy era. This work draws parallels between then and now, and highlights the universal, eternal character of coming of age. I have attempted to explore the similarities of each generation, despite contemporary sensibilities and recent advances in technology.

A fellow artist recently noted, “We paint to deal with life.” These candid “snapshots” are one way I’ve found to cope with the process of letting go that all parents must make. They document my children’s progress during this transitional time in their lives. Thanks to them, I am still learning.


“Hello, Goodbye” was featured in the “In The Moment” publication, and on the Homepage here at Redbubble.

“All You Need Is Love” made the Homepage and is included in the Redbubble Featured Works.

“Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” was featured on the Redbubble home page.

Group Challenge Wins:

“Three Graces ~ section 2” won the “Modern Day Goddess” Challenge in the group The Divine Feminine

“Hey Jude” won the Masters of Charcoal Challenge in the 1 on 1: the Fine Art of Portraiture Group and the Boys Challenge in the Dirty Filthy Art: Charcoal Group

“Evening Shadows” won the Winter Challenge in the Dirty Filthy Art: Charcoal Group

“Chains” won the Quicky Challenge in the group Painted Ladies

Group Features:

  • Joined: December 2007


2 Weeks Post-Op for a Brain Tumor

The new year has been rough. Read more here at my blog: / and here at / I miss you my friends, am doing very well all things considered, and hope to be back posting art in the near future! Hugs! ~ Alice
Posted over 5 years – 11 comments

The Reason I've Been Off the Bubble:

I haven’t been drawing, but I have been working! I do hope to be at the easel again sometime in the very near future. And I do miss all of you too. / Read all about it in my blog: / New Venture: Rendezvous Coffee & Tea (plus gallery,) Galena
Posted over 8 years – 17 comments

Buyer's Booth: Calendars

My daughter with 3 of my RB 2010 Calendars of art & photography. The quality can’t be beat, but do order well in advance. These were late for holiday gift giving, but Redbubble made good with a voucher for free merchandise. Loves Redbubble!
Posted almost 9 years – 4 comments

Coffee and Tea Calendar

I added a few new photography images for my new coffee calendar / Now, I’m ready for a coffee with lunch!
Posted almost 9 years – 4 comments
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