Arting, arting, arting, rawhiiiiide.

Boy, things have been busy lately!

Firstly, check out this awesome interview by Le Animale, with yours truly, over at her blog! In it, I talk mostly about my spiritual connection to illustrating totems, and why I draw the totems I do!

In the meantime, since announcing that I am able to work with cat energy, a ton of cats have come marching on by. Domestic cats. Wild cats. Er…okay well that’s about it. But still, I’ve drawn a lot of cats lately.

Here’s a bunch of commissions I’m working on. All exciting projects!

Russian Trotter

Russian Trotter / commission, by Pia Ravenari 2012

Melanistic Jaguar

Melanistic Jaguar / commission, by Pia Ravenari 2012

Cheetah

Cheetah as Totem / commission, by Pia Ravenari 2012

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Have some art stats:

Current number of pieces I have to colour: 8
Are any of these a secret project?: One of them is!
What keeps me company during the artwork process?: Currently, Law & Order: SVU
How much chocolate do I consume during arting?: Entirely too much.
Seen any good films lately?: Yes! Wolf Children, or The Wolf Children Ame and Yuki. Cute! It’s a feature length anime, with glorious (Miyazaki level) animation, and a cute, powerful and at times tragic story. Just incredible. I’d recommend it to anyone who loves animals / who believes they are an animal-person, people connected to wolves and people who love sumptuous animation.

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Also, stay tuned for some new Romantic Minis (although they are the current romantic minis, only two left! These go quickly. Even the romantic spiders went!) I’ve got six of these little babies planned. You can look forward to Foxhounds, Foxes, Peacocks, Polar Bears, Rats and maybe some Vizcacha!

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No good title today!

I have a new project. It’s a trade in exchange for some serious quality editing I’m receiving on a manuscript that I’m hoping to eventually seek publication for. Anyway. This new project is huge. For example, here it is taking up most of my art desk:

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Katt's Forest - WIP 01 - by Ravenari

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But like that you can hardly tell what’s going on! So here’s a section of the bitty corner that I’ve started finally inking:

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Katt's Forest - WIP 02 - Frogshroom - by Ravenari

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And to prove that on the rare occasion I can actually sketch (since sketching is not something I frequently do), you can see some sketches here:

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I sketch I promise! - by Ravenari

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Yes. The frog’s name really is George.

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Lately, the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) has been doing some controlled burns of and around the Gnangara Pine Plantation in order to clear away fire hazards and make space and essentially make pretty patterns in the sky. Observe:

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smoke and inversion layer - photo by Ravenari

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So it’s made everything kind of interesting, as it’s been going on every day and the fires are huge. The other day I was walking and the fire smoke contributed to some cumulus and ended up making these massive, charcoal clouds. When it broke and rained over our house, the rain smelled strongly of smoke, which was just so ‘Western Australia’ that I had to smile. And cough a little. Because you know; smoke.

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because you know, smoke - by Ravenari

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Have been seeing a lot of kangaroos around locally, lately. They come out and crop the grass at the local parks, and so I see whole families with joeys grazing and watching us in that kind of ‘hmm, you going to interrupt us with our grass or what?’ look on their faces. Thankfully haven’t noticed too many huge males, since they can be aggressive at times. It’s mostly just the smaller, svelte females and their young.

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I have decided that walking through a suburb that is ‘still in construction’ is a unique and strange experience. Seeing whole streets and blocks literally get raised from bushland in a matter of weeks, sectioned into blocks, artificial topsoil sprayed down (which the common bronzewings love), have their little block numbers with ‘SOLD’ stickers across them (Ellenbrook is a desireable area right now in that any area is desirable due to the housing shortage/crisis in Peth), and then finally seeing the tradies come in and actually build a house in a matter of months. But I walk the streets before the houses are there, and then when they’re just concrete slabs showing their floorplans to the world. And while I walk on tarmac covered with windswept sand and the tuna cans empty of a tradeperson’s lunch, I see ravens and magpies walking through these houses looing for bits of food left over. Living in the houses before people ever could.

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How are you, today? 🙂

Stu-Stu-Studio!

Instead of you know, colouring my growing amount of inked work due to be coloured, I’ve instead just been adding more and more inked work to the ‘to do list.’ Currently there are six illustrations that need to be coloured. Cassowary, Delicate Mouse, Giant Armadillo, Walrus, Black-Winged Lory and Wandsuna – Remember? Not only that, but on my ‘to do list’ I also have sketches to do of some Dholes (whee!), a huge forest landscape, a Wolverine, a Paradise Parrot and a second Totoro.

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Phew!

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So my art-desk is starting to take on an immensely cluttered look. Observe…

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Stu-Stu-Studio by Ravenari

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Well, that’s cluttered for me. I’m not going to turn around and take a photo of my computer desk for you; I refuse! THAT is very cluttered. I have everything from mineral eyeshadow samples on there, my computer, my scanner, 4 bazillion pens (it feels that way, I’m exaggerating, I’m sure it’s only something like 4 milliion), hairclips, medications, anti-static spray, an awesome speaker system, my modem, a glasses case with glasses I don’t wear anymore in them, FOUR PACKETS OF TIC-TACS (including a giant packet of orange tic tacs, which I didn’t even know they did!), 40 lip-glosses (don’t judge me), a full pot of bobby pins even though I’ve been using the same two for two weeks, my camera, about 50 post-it notes (not exaggerating, for real) which has everything on there from dog names in Finnish, to old shopping lists, old ‘to do lists’ and future ‘as totems’ I want to draw (like the awesomely named Piapiac).

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But my art desk is usually quite clean!

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If all that clutter is starting to get to you, here’s a picture of an unidentifed species of local moth (unidentified by ME, I mean, any local entomologist who specialises in the ridiculous number of local moth species we have could probably identify it. Local entomologists; HELP!)

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moth at Ellenbrook by Ravenari

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As for how I’ve been going lately (not that you asked for all of this verbal diarrhea), I’ve been down more than I’ve been up. It’s been a tough four months, in all honesty, and my PTSD symptoms have been getting ‘bigger and brighter and better!’ I’m like a walking advertisement for classic post-traumatic stress disorder right now, and that’s not a good thing, considering I got diagnosed in 1998 and I’d like to be better by now. This second, if possible.

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However, there have been understandable triggers of this ‘explosion’ of post-post-post-post trauma stress, and I am working through them. It’s one of those ironies of life that working through the actual triggers themselves is of itself stressful, and in the short-term can create a compounding of symptoms and not an immediate release. Of course, this is why I don’t work a regularly scheduled full-time job and why sometimes I get up at 6.30am (what masochistic Circadian rhythm decided that was a good time to awaken?) and go straight back to bed again twenty minutes later due to phrase; ‘that 20 minutes was exhausting!’

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When I find some energy, you can find me diligently inking at artwork, or going on long, ambling walks throughout the suburbs. I haven’t seen any drop bears or bunyips yet, but I’m keeping my eyes peeled.

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In book recommendations, I’d like to take the time to recommend: Echidna: Extraordinary Egg-Laying Mammal by Michael Augee, Brett Gooden and Anne Mussen, which takes the prime place of being one of the few non-fiction books (excepting something by Bill Bryson) which made me laugh out loud a few times. As well as being well-informed, delightfully written, well-illustrated and easy to navigate, it has such gems like:

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“An echidna wedged under a car seat can only be removed by disassembly of the surrounding automobile!” (p. 123)

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This just proves the awesomeness of echidnas, if you ask me.

Too many rabbits…

Well, obviously:

Wandsuna - Remember? Artwork by Ravenari

I’ve been doing so much art and writing lately, that I’ve actually lost track of blogging here. That’s just… incredible. Along with the art and the writing, I’ve been going through something of a PTSD exacerbation since mid-December, and have been feeling less buoyant as a result (somewhat of an understatement). There was a trigger in real life that caused this (a catalyst you might say), so at least I have the ‘comfort’ of knowing it doesn’t come from no where. But at the same time, three and a half months is a long time to deal with an increase in all of my symptoms, from nightmares to bruxing to stomach upsets to flashbacks to losing time to just general miserableness.

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So, I decided to get some of it out of my system, and returned to the cathartic and personally symbolic Wandsuna series. The Wandsuna series started around 1998, I believe, and back then it was exclusively limited to pastels. But the series has been evolving as I’ve been, and now we’re into inked, bulgy-eyed rabbits:

Wandsuna - Remember - Detail by Ravenari

This illustration, entitled Wandsuna – Remember? is unfinished, and still needs to be coloured, but there is a liminal moment after inking and pre-colouring where I feel I have a finished piece before the piece is a finished piece. It drifts between being complete and not complete. I treat the inking process as a ‘completion,’ and intentionally put more detail into the piece than can be visibly seen post-colouring. We all have secrets. Even the Wandsuna pieces do. What can’t you see behind the colour, even up close? Well…

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What you can see however, is too many rabbits.

wandsuna - remember - detail 02 by Ravenari

The Weather.

I am about to embark on an awesome journey of research. That’s right, research. I love non-fiction in general, but I think it will be the first time I’ve ever devoted so much brain space to weather, weather patterns, weather cycles, extreme weather and so on.

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Partly, it’s to do with a science fiction novel I’m worldbuilding for. In it, people from Earth have settled on a very Earth-like planet that has much more severe weather than we do (a lot more supercell storms and a much higher density of rain and so on). But in order to do that, I need to understand more about weather patterns and cycles. I started by researching winds of the world, like the beautifully named Euroclydon, Khazri, Kosava, Levant, Oroshi and Coromuel. And around that point I realised that I just didn’t know a great deal about what I was talking about. And this is from someone who is actually fascinated by the weather and can generally tell if we’re having ESE winds or SWs and what they’re going to feel like and can name different types of clouds and so forth.

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Definitely not enough anymore! I’ve ordered a bunch of books from the library. For once, I’m going to be able to hold a sustained conversation with an English person and actually know what I’m talking about. 😉

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Speaking about weather, our suburb of Ellenbrook was hit with a freakish storm two days ago, which resulted in a twelve hour power outage. It was pretty amazing. Within the storm was also a miniature tornado, and we had winds of 150 kmh. We escaped damage at our house, but others weren’t so lucky, and the cost will likely run into the millions.

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This is what the storm looked like over our house, before it broke and the rains fell.

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the storm before it broke by Ravenari

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And then, after I stood outside in the rain for a long, long time. We went inside, had about an hour with which to enjoy electricity, and then power lines in neighbouring suburbs fell and we had no electricity at all. Very glad I turned off my computer for that.

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We had lightning strikes like this every few seconds:

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lightning from the front of our house by Ravenari

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And this was when it wasn’t over our house! (That’s the view from the front of our house).

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I love tumultuous, stormy weather. I really do. I have talked frequently about how much I love the rain, but it’s a very specific kind of rain. It’s not drizzle, it’s ‘here, you asked for it, now TAKE IT!’ rain. Rain that is forceful and conquers the soil.

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It will be interesting to research, at any rate. Especially because it means I get to take a break from research nociceptors and a-delta fibres.

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Never fear, those who follow the art. I’m still doing it. I’m doing a lot of it. Here’s a sample of the latest stuff:

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Red Kangaroo Totem – pre-colouring.

red kangaroo pre-colouring by Ravenari

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Brolga Totem – pre-colouring.

brolga pre-colouring by Ravenari

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Both of these, when finished, will be for sale at my Etsy.

Work it!

Currently I am embarking on a personal project called ‘100 walks for health,’ which is based on the idea that I walk 100 times for health. It’s pretty straightforward. And then afterwards I start again. The rules are – the walk has to be over 10 minutes to count (and multiple walks a day count as separate walks), and other things like playing kick to kick or swimming don’t count. Anyway, today I walked in a thunderstorm and it was awesome. (Even if I did get rained on despite my umbrella, and got paranoid about being hit by lightning because it was all around me.)

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In the meantime, I finally finished the inking of Steampunk Elephants or Clearcutting at Dawn. This is how I felt about it yesterday:

photo of the day  - a commen sentiment - by Ravenari

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And this is how it looks today:

Clearcutting at Dawn by Ravenari

What I love so much about this series for the Natcon 50 Future Imperfect art show, is that I get to do something with animals that I’m not normally doing.

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I’ve been taking animals and looking at their natural environment, and then looking at how I’d personally exploit them (not that I want to exploit any animal really) in an imperfect retrofuture, where we only allow animals to survive if they can directly benefit us through work, beauty or medicine/health.

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In this, I liked the idea of genetically modified elephants used in the process of clearcutting to save on fuel and materials needed to build the tractors and bulldozers and so forth needed. Because huge elephants could be engineered, larger trees could be engineered and managed, and the wood yield would increase in a world where there wouldn’t be that much wood remaining.

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Elephants are actually built to take down trees. While some of them will tear at branches, many will actually uproot acacia trees in order to get at the whole top of the plant. Unlike giraffes which evolved to reach the top of the trees, the elephant evolved to just take them down. To then take that natural instinct and accelerate it into a vegetative drive where the elephants even enjoy, or run towards trees that need knocking down, is something that I’ve been contemplating for a science fiction world I’m tempted to set a novel in. Photovoltaic ravens, deforestation-savvy elephants, giant squid that put the ‘giant’ in the name shepherding steamers from place to place in a world where supercell storms are the norm.

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Is it just me, or does anyone else really love that kind of stuff?

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But don’t fret, I’ve been working on a metric fuckton of totem illustrations too, including this recent one of Kookaburra, where the colours are all clashy and glarey, even for me:

Kookaburra as Totem redo by Ravenari

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This one is for sale at Etsy, just follow this link.

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And if you’re interested in what Kookaburra represents as a totem, you can read the full essay here, or just contemplated the keywords:

Laughter. Family. Wooing your partner. Sibling rivalry. Healing others and the self. Conquering fear. Ending old patterns. Turning hurt into happiness. Hunting down your own truths. Signals. God energy. Teaching and sharing your truths with others.

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If you could choose any animal for me to genetically adapt in my dystopian Future Imperfect, what would you choose? 🙂

I’m listening to Jude, what are you listening to?

I’ve been very dissociated lately, or ‘out of it.’ It’s been not too bad, except that I’m covered in scratches and bruises from not having a complete sense of body boundary and thinking that you know, my head is a lot smaller than it is and thus smashing it with a kind of tremendous velocity against something very sharp. I’m lucky I didn’t give myself a concussion. I have a 15 centimetre scratch on my torso. No idea how. Don’t remember it. Don’t feel it now. Dissociation is both a wonderful painkiller (sometimes), and yet the thing that needs you to have that wonderful painkiller in the first place (sometimes).

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To take my mind off whatever is causing the dissociation, I’ve been drawing. A lot. Like so:

eight pieces of art on the go by Ravenari

There’s a lot of inking in there! Plus the sketch of Steampunk Elephants (it’ll have a better title eventually, I promise) which is still a sketch because I want to get it ‘right.’

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Living life in a hollowed out state isn’t very enriching, and the only time I can ever feel anything meaningful at all is when I’m doing the artwork. Once I’ve finished doing these as totems / redos of the Australian Animal Oracle Deck, I’m back to the badass Wandsuna series, and dark fairytale interpretation series (wow, that last one needs a better name, doesn’t it?)

kookaburra by Ravenari

In the meantime, there’s been some cooking. Tonight’s dinner is sweet and sour plum chicken with basmati rice. I made chocolate mousse earlier. Last night’s dinner was miniature hawaiian pizzas with free-range ham and Edam. The night before that there was some spaghetti with tomatoes and caramelised onions, fresh basil and baby spinach, as well as many cloves of roast garlic. Isn’t roast garlic one of the best things ever? I love it.

roast garlic by Ravenari

I can’t spread it on toast straight like other people (garlic is a GERD trigger, as is just about everything I listed! Lol), but in pasta, and on roasted corn on the cob, and in just about any other form (bruschetta, for example), it makes me ridiculously happy. Plus having the whole house smell like sweet roasted garlic is a lovely thing to come home to.

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Anyway, wish me luck in the dissociation side of things; it often precedes a crash or a period of overwhelming emotion that leads to some bad decisions. I don’t want to get to the ‘bad decisions’ part. But staying watchful when your brain is kind of a constant fog and keeps trying to convince you your body doesn’t exist is its own kind of… trial.