"Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)"

Alice McMahon

Galena, United States

  • Artist
  • Artwork Comments 35

Artist's Description

“Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)” triptych, 24 × 48″ charcoal and pastel on Mylar

Based on the Beatles tune of the same title. “I once had a girl, or should I say, she once had me.”

This ended up a much more difficult project than expected and was on the easel for a full month. It’s the next in the ongoing White Album series.

I used three photos of my daughter for the work, cropped and manipulated in the computer until I found the composition I liked. I decided to do a triptych because I liked all three photos and thought they looked well together. I took the photos 2 years ago in the cemetery down the block from our home. My model was fascinated by a fallen mature oak, and was sitting on the trunk in the second view photo. She chose the clothing for the shoot, but I changed the t-shirt design to work with the theme for my piece, which is bird extinction.

The triptych is charcoal on a heavy weight mylar drafting film, and was worked on the frosted side. There is a backing of Canson pastel paper in moonstone (a pink gray) because the translucent paper needs some backing, and white was too stark for the effect I was attempting to achieve. There are small touches of “white charcoal” – white pastel pencil for highlights, I also used a gray pastel pencil in some of the tree areas.

The mylar is a very slick surface and fun to work on, and has more of a sensation of painting because of the “oiliness” of the charcoal on the mylar. Delicate areas are quite difficult to achieve. If you rub your finger over a fairly lightly covered area, the paper wipes clean, so soft gradations are troublesome. You can build up dark layers of charcoal and lighten it to gray by rubbing with your fingers, or erase back down to the surface with a kneaded eraser. I purposely left much of the work rough because the surface works so well for that. The finished work has a very interesting glow in person that doesn’t photograph well. The frosted finish is quite lovely – almost like human skin in sheen.

Framed as a triptych, custom frame by my husband Steve White.

Artwork Comments

  • Sean Farragher
  • genevievem
  • JP100
  • gpatrick
  • Shree
  • Paul Douglas Robertson
  • Kaitlin Beckett
  • Mariska
  • Philip  Rogan
  • Alice McMahon
  • avalyn
  • Alice McMahon
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