An hour after I finished this drawing I broke down crying. I just didn't know what to make of it. Was it good or was it bad? I had been so obsessed during its creation, and when it was over I felt lost and directionless. From start to finish it took a little under a month to create.
The colors were added with oil pastels, underneath is the preliminary pencil drawing. When I drew with the pencil I thought that I had left room for it to be eventually matted but unfortunately when it came time to add the colors I added detail right up to the edges of the paper. So when I get it framed I can't use a mat. Am going to frame this one because it is a gift. I am sending it to someone I don't know well and I figured if I framed it there would be less of a chance of it getting lost or torn or simply discarded. It is an ego thing getting it framed - I value it so I want to take good care of it. Maybe this will help someone else take good care of it too.
I had no visions in my head of what this picture would look like when I began except for one seed element. I knew I wanted to start with the drawing of a bound bird. The image of a bird with straps across its wings, preventing it from flight, is an old image that I've used in two other works of art made years ago. However, never before have I put quite so many straps of bondage on the bird, nor have I ever included a lock and key.
Once the bird was drawn I thought to put behind it a stone wall and a girl sitting on the stone wall. I pictured her in a pretty dress printed with cherries, and in her hands she held a heart. As I drew this girl I thought that she was an evil creature who had torn the heart out of the chest of a man below her. I imagined the man wiggling and flailing in agony on grass. But when I drew him he had a languid, gracious pose. Suddenly the meaning of the picture changed, the woman was no longer evil, and the man was no longer in pain. There was a transfer of the heart taking place, but whether the horse headed man was offering it up to the woman or whether the woman was giving to the horse headed man something vital that he lacked was unclear. However, in either interpretation, whether or not the heart is coming out of a body or going into a body it is most certainly a precious gift. That is where the title comes from. It just is coincidence that "The gift" is actually a gift.
The last element to draw was the cat holding the gun. Guns in my art are reoccurring objects. Usually I find that the person or animal holding the gun is pointing it at something beautiful and good, like a unicorn or mermaid or angel. I suppose I feel that it adds an element of threat. That a good thing has hanging over it the means of its termination and destruction. Probably the cat won't shoot. But he's demonic.
After I finished the drawing, had my cry, and was left with doubt and uncertainty I went for a walk with my husband and our dog. I was feeling a little crazy and kept thinking about Degas pastel drawings of ballerinas. All those colors. I kept thinking to myself, why can't I draw like Degas? And while I wanted to be Degas, my head traveled even further and thought, why can't I draw like Michelangelo? Or Leonardo Di Vinci? I wanted to be big, bigger than life, huge, on top of a mountain. But what I really felt was small and insignificant. Why so much dissatisfaction in the very hour when I should feel accomplished? I said to my husband that the pain was very old, going back to high school, going back to elementary school. I simply have a hard time accepting what is me, and this drawing is very much in my own, idiosyncratic style. I am a primitive, outsider artist. And schizophrenic.