Black Butterfly

Alice McMahon

Galena, United States

  • Artist
  • Artwork Comments 140

Artist's Description

Charcoal on mylar drafting film, 22 × 18″ 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.

There were several unusual spiritual moments for me while working on this self-portrait. 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, maybe it’s due to our changing weather patterns. The odd thing was that I had just found a photo of a black butterfly online at RedBubble at Then a black butterfly fluttered around me several times while I was walking that same afternoon! It happened again a couple of days later, this black butterfly flying in loops around me as I walked. Odd that the only black ones I saw, also seemed to notice me as well! Almost like they knew of my transformation. So, that inspired my second poem, “Black Butterfly” and I decided to incorporate a black butterfly into the drawing. The piece was made to fit a vintage distressed frame I found at my local antique shop.

The Poem:

Bemusing muse

Black butterfly

Came through the ether

Mystical wings

Encircled me along the way

Enraptured on a summer day

Music painted on the sky

Black butterfly

Blown in from far off dust

Astral soul

Dressed in stardust

Black butterfly

Draw me perfect

Emergent from this coal black shell

Wet wings spread in joy to stand


Flawless at the artist’s hand

Evanescent passion lies

In our wavelengths intertwined

Black butterfly

Never caught

Light gently in the mind

Bring luminous thought

© Alice McMahon White 2008

Artwork Comments

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