Blast from the Past – Eucalyptus

I drew this Eucalyptus in 1997, I’m pretty sure. I was in year 11, probably fifteen, and I had gone to our local primary school park on Priestley Street and actually taken my fineliners and egg tempera paints with me. I still remember the experience vividly. I did used to take art materials with me to that park all the time, there were big, grand eucalyptus trees everywhere.

Embleton Eucalyptus by Ravenari

Sometimes, you look back on the things you release into the world, groan, hold your head in your hands, and basically have to learn how to deal with people not only seeing, but sometimes even owning things that you can’t stand.

Sometimes though, you look back on things and think, ‘wow, could I actually do that again now? Do I have that same vision?’ And I don’t. I do have vision, but it’s not this vision. I think, personally, that it shows my obsession with unconventional colouring, something I’ve always kind of had. I feel like this with writing, too. I look back on things I’ve written and sometimes wonder who that person was, what she was thinking, why she chose the words she did, how she managed to execute a sentence that I’m not sure I could execute now.

Eucalyptus trees are fantastic subjects, they’re graceful without being too ordered, they have a lazy way of growing their branches which translates to wonderful curved lines and robust curved leaves on the page. More than that, there are hundreds of species of eucalyptus to choose from.

I used to do most of my artwork outside of and independently of class, despite taking TEE Art, and Art & Design. Sometimes I’d try and cheat and find a way to add it to my portfolio by making something up, and hoping for the best. But ultimately, I drew this eucalyptus because I really felt like this eucalyptus wanted to be drawn by me. It’s my favourite kind of art; art that is a communication between subject and artist, and is its own pattern of interspecies or interobject understanding.

It has nothing to do with deadlines, commissions, commerciality, making money or even personal philosophy and politics.

It was a tree. It was some tempera paints. Some ink. A fineliner. Some paper.

I miss those days. I don’t draw nearly as freely anymore.

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Art Peeves.

I wrote this as an entry in my Livejournal, and it became one of my most commented upon pieces. As it was actually about Art, I thought I’d post it here:

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When you’re an artist, people try and take advantage of you in ways they wouldn’t necessarily if you had a conservative career (though whenever you’re self-employed, people will generally try and take advantage of your skills).

They don’t know they’re doing it, because in a society that doesn’t value art for the most part; it’s normal not to value artists. And artists often don’t know it’s happening, because they’re part of that society and the trend of devaluing their own work.

This came about because recently a complete stranger who I don’t know from a bar of soap asked me if they could print out one of my pictures for free, and give it to a friend. I started composing a message to them along the lines of ‘sure! fine! wow that’s really sweet of you!’ but something didn’t feel right. It didn’t feel right because I thought… I have a DeviantArt store to sell my prints, and I did that for a reason. So that I could survive.

This person doesn’t know me. They’re not a friend. They’re a complete stranger asking for free art on behalf of someone else I also don’t know very well.

And let me tell you now; this happens a lot.
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Whale as Totem (early)

I’m pretty obsessed with drawing animals. And animal totems. And animals as totems. And so on. I know this, because I’ve submitted something like over 300 different deviations into the ‘traditional – animals’ category at my DeviantArt account. And that’s not including animals that count in the ‘fantasy’ category, either.

I love animals. I love that I am an animal. I’m not such a big fan of the dichotomy set up between humans and nature, as though, because we’re capable of creating plastics we are somehow not a part of nature anymore. Sorry to disappoint, but even the destructive things are a part of nature. I am not one of those people who puts humans on a pedestal, or does something equally naive (in my opinion), and castigate them over all other animals.

Whale as Totem - unpublished Australian Animal Oracle Deck

This is ‘Whale as Totem’, from the unpublished Australian Animal Oracle Deck, back when I was still at the beginning of developing my ‘totem artwork’ style. The shapes used are personal symbols, because I found the idea of poaching from Indigenous cultures to be highly distasteful. I also thought that it wouldn’t be too hard to develop a personal symbology; being already very spiritual, and loving seeing meanings in symbols anyway. And it wasn’t that hard.

This is before I was using watercolour pencils (I was scared of them), so all the colouring is via coloured pencils.

I draw what I’m compelled to draw. And animals are part of that. I might not be vegetarian, I might think that plastics are as much a ‘part of nature’ as a bumblebee, even if they’re not biodegradable, but celebrating nature through artwork is part of what I do.