Marbled Polecat as Totem

These guys are freaking adorable.

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MARBLED POLECAT as TOTEM

Marbled Polecat as Totem by Ravenari

REPRESENTING:

Fighting back, putting on a good show, not being afraid to stand up for yourself, confronting what you fears you, seeking out problems before they find you, metaphorically and literally baring your teeth at threats, ripping what is inconvenient out of your life, being gutsy and bolshy, being able to sniff out drama, recharging on your own, maintaining your boundaries.

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DESCRIPTION

The marbled polecat is a small mustelid found in south-eastern Europe and western China. They are predominantly solitary, and maintain territories within which they are very active, rarely sleeping in the same den twice. They will often be aggressive to each other in encounters. They will use the dens of other burrowing animals and stay in underground irrigation tunnels, or dig out their own dens with their long, strong claws, using their teeth to remove roots and grasses. They are good climbers, but prefer to hunt on the ground. They are omnivorous, and eat many species of rodent, small hares, birds, lizards, fish, frogs and insects. They will also eat fruit, grass, kept birds (poultry and pigeons) and steal human food.

They are found in dry areas and grasslands, open desert, steppes, subtropical scrub forest, semi desert and rocky areas, they avoid mountainous regions. They are crepuscular in nature, and primarily use their strong sense of smell for hunting, possessing weak eyesight. They have a limited vocalisation range, emitting alarm cries, grunts, and submissive shrieks. When threatened, they can erect their fur and often stand on their hind legs and hiss; when pushed, they will emit a noxious odour from their anal glands. They were once sought after for their fur, and Kabul shopkeepers used to keep them to exterminate rodents. They are currently considered Vulnerable due to habitat and prey depletion.

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The file and the rest of the totem dictionary can be found here!

Red-Winged Blackbird as Totem

This was an interesting one. I don’t tend to read more generic totem meanings until after I’ve completed my own; that way I’m not unconsciously taking from anything that I haven’t researched or found myself. When I looked at other meanings however, I noticed that just about everyone who did refer to the red-winged blackbird said that it referred to goddess and feminist energies. This seems totally counter-intuitive, given what I know of the bird and its energy. The closest I came was reading a sense of sisterhood into the energy; but even that was a mild totem meaning, and not its strongest.

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RED WINGED BLACKBIRD as TOTEM

red winged blackbird as totem by Ravenari

REPRESENTING:

Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through, speak up, talk about what you believe in, communicate, let your love spread to many people, be wary of peer pressure (both receiving and doling out), changing habits and mannerisms amongst groups of people, being an opportunist, wetlands wisdom, group dynamics, the power of large groups of people, being visible, putting yourself out there, the middleworlds, drawing attention to yourself, being a part of a sisterhood.

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ABOUT

The red-winged blackbird is an abundant, well-studied songbird found in North and Central Merica. They are sexually dimorphic, with the males being black, with red and yellow shoulder patches that can be puffed or hidden, and duller, drabber females. The males are often sighted alongside roadsides, on high perches, in wetlands, on telephone wires and on cattails. They are found in open grassy areas, fresh and saltwater marshes (with a preference for those with cattail), wetlands, watercourses and other wet regions. They will also frequent crop fields, feedlots, meadows, prairies, old fields and pastures. Different subspecies vary greatly in size and proportion. Red-winged blackbirds will form huge flocks of several million birds, with other species of blackbird and starling, in order to consume grains and group forage. They are omnivorous and predominantly eat seeds and insects, and will also consume snails, frogs, eggs, carrion and other opportunistically taken animals and vegetation. They are strong, agile flyers.

Red-winged blackbirds are associated with the return of Spring, as migratory populations return early and sing frequently as the season returns. Males are extremely territorial (a quarter of their waking hours during breeding season is devoted to territory defense), and polygynous, having up to 15 female mates in their territory. Males will chase and mob animals much larger than they, including livestock and humans. Predated upon by many other birds, including raptors, owls, corvids and herons, as well as raccoons, mink, foxes and snakes. To prevent predation, red-winged blackbirds will make well-concealed nests over water, group-nest and sound alarm calls. The red-winged blackbird may be the most studied bird.

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You can find the full totem dictionary here, a free resource representing 258 animals.

Mikado Pheasant as Totem

In between all the artwork, I’ve decided to get working on the ol’ totem website again.

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Mikado Pheasant as Totem

Mikado Pheasant as Totem by Ravenari

Representing:

Being used by others, being exploited against your will, possessing great beauty and power, rain energy, benefitting from periods of rain and mist, using mist to conceal you, concealment, being solitary by nature, quietness and alertness, choosing caution over panic, calmly seeking shelter over blindly running away, foraging for wisdom, looking to the ground for understanding, mist as a sacred and liminal space.

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You can find the link as well as the rest of the website here.

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And in other news, finished my first semester of the Masters, and start the second next week! No rest for the wicked, as they say. 🙂

Why I’ve been so silent lately.

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The Bronze Forest - No Flash - 700x - by Ravenari

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The Bronze Forest - Flash - 700x - by Ravenari

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2. I started a Masters of Communications at Griffith University in Queensland. Boy and howdy. Haven’t got any grades back yet, so I’m fairly certain I’m failing everything.

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3. Major PTSD relapse, which I’ve been dealing with. Kind of.

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Actually that’s about it. I don’t think there needs to be any more! /exhausted.

I’ve been framed!

Two frames arrived today from Frameshop.com.au. I’ve had hit and miss success with them; I’ve had two frames arrive broken in the past, but their prices are also very competitive, and so with trepidation, I decided to invest in another two frames for two Wandsuna illustrations. And they are beautiful; arrived safely and everything.

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Wandsuna – Foxes Don’t Cry was the first non-pastel Wandsuna work that I illustrated, and I was kind of hooked on the ink -> watercolour pencil -> pencil -> acrylic -> etc. format and knew I’d have to revisit it. I love this illustration. So many foxes! So much red! Foxes! Red! And basically all my sophisticated thoughts drift off from there.

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Wandsuna - Foxes Don't Cry by Ravenari

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Wandsuna – Remember? is probably one of the most personal illustrations I’ve ever done, though the symbology for Wandsuna is quite complex, I still found it impacted people in personal ways as they watched the progress on Dreamwidth. The interpretation of the image by others was perhaps – is still, perhaps – my favourite part of putting a piece of artwork out into the world. It’s because of this that I still maintain a great reluctance to explicate the themes and symbols of the Wandsuna illustrations.

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I feel the artwork should be able to speak for itself; and I feel the dream-like nature of the Wandsuna series reminds us all that all artwork speaks first to unconscious processes, and then to consciousness.

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I’m happier than I thought I would be with this colour combination. The cream mattboard really brings out the cream/white costume, and that’s awesome.

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Wandsuna - Remember? by Ravenari

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I’ve been very much enjoying the wild, blustery Perth weather of the past 24 hours, and I hope it continues. FOREVER. Okay, but in all seriousness, I would not be upset if the rain continued FOREVER. Particularly if it remained blustery and there were overhead booms of thunder and flickers of lightning. I know storms can’t last, but one can live in hope! I imagine all the angry powerless flooded people will be knocking on my door soon with angry letters and glares.

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I’ve been living wild in the wondrous music of:

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Woodpigeon
Joe Hisaishi’s – Ni No Kuni soundtrack (NI NO KUNI! Is anyone else as excited about the English release of this video game for the PS3? Has anyone heard of it? You don’t know? OH MY GOD, MIYAZAKI AND STUDIO GHIBLI TEAMED UP TO MAKE A DS and PS3 FINAL FANTASY STYLE GAME BUT WITH THEIR STORYBOARDS AND MUSIC AND OH MY FREAKING GOD IT LOOKS AMAZING. The DS version has been getting great reviews so far.
Ludovico Einaudi
Robyn
And a bunch of other things.

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I’ve started a Master of Communications, to complement my Bachelor of Communications, and mostly because I’m a total suckah for punishment. It’s hard work, but it’s also a lot like revisiting my old friends. Oh media theorists, I’ve missed you. *pets Fiske and Hartley.*

Totem sketchapalooza!

Well. I’ve been passing the time by mostly being quite anxious and stressed out. I like to redirect that energy when I can, and as I can’t seem to relax right now (I tried some breathing exercises and all I got for them was some lousy heart palpitations and hyperventilation for my trouble!), I decided to go the animal totem route. Here’s what’s on my drawing plate right now!

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Barnevelder

Barnvelder Hen Sketch by Ravenari

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Celestial Wolverine

Celestial Wolverine Totem Sketch by Ravenari

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Chudditch

Chudditch Totem Sketch by Ravenari

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Dutch Bantam

Dutch Bantam Totem Sketch by Ravenari

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Short-Tailed Paradigalla

Short Tailed Paradigalla Totem Sketch by Ravenari

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Rhode Island Red

Rhode Island Red Totem Sketch by Ravenari

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Short-Tailed Weasel

Short Tailed Weasel Totem Sketch by Ravenari

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Sussex Hen

Sussex Hen Totem Sketch as Totem

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Phew! Thank goodness I’m going on a small holiday at the end of June, that’s all I’m saying!

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All of these will be available for sale once completed. 🙂

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? 🙂

Matt Pryor of The Get Up Kids fame crowdfunding next album.

Hi folks!

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When I do a lot of my artwork, I either listen to music, or I watch TV series in the background. When I listen to music, the vast majority of the time, I listen to work sung and written by Matt Pryor. So I listen to The Get Up Kids or The New Amsterdams or The Terrible Twos or his acoustic album Confidence Man. I listen to it over and over again. On my Last.FM, the works of Matt Pryor together are the top music I listen to. The top track, that I have listened to 309 times since 2007 is The New Amsterdam’s ‘Strangled by the Thought.’

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Aside from purchasing CDs and merchandise, it’s rare to really get a chance to give back to a man who has inadvertently and indirectly helped me to create some of my favourite pieces of artwork. Pieces like this, would not exist in the way that they exist, without Matt Pryor:

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Wandsuna – Foxes Don’t Cry

Wandsuna - Foxes Don't Cry - illustrated by Ravenari

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Wandsuna – The Universal Language

Wandsuna - The Universal Language illustrated by Ravenari

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So, this morning I woke up and discovered that Matt Pryor is CROWDFUNDING HIS NEXT ALBUM. Yes, indeedy. The link takes you to the Kickstarter page, where he is looking for $10,000 in backing by Wednesday, June 1st. In exchange for backing, there are some seriously awesome ‘rewards’ you can opt in for.

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I don’t have many heroes in this world, but Matt Pryor is one of them. I don’t know him personally, obviously. But I know and love his music. And I think if you gave him a try, you would as well. And on an aside, I’ll keep producing awesome artwork if he keeps producing awesome music! (Okay, crude, but I had to give it a try!)

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This combines a lot of lovely things though. Wonderful music, with collaboration, and the excitement that is crowdfunding. I’ve had to crowdfund some of my own work over the years, and know personally how exciting it is to do artwork requested by others, or financially supported by a group who want to bring a creative project to bear. Crowdfunding for someone you respect is always fun and happy-making. I highly recommend it. And if you haven’t heard of Crowdfunding in general, here’s a good primer!.

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Signing off, your artist (who is doing too much artwork. There will be an artwork post soon! I’ve finished six pieces in about a week! Dholes and Gila Monsters and Llamas oh my!)

Oh artist, oh anxious artist.

So, over the Easter weekend, the Swancon/Natcon 50 Future Imperfect exhibition was on at the Perth Hyatt.

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I had fully intended to go the launch, after backing out of speaking on a panel about the techniques I use as an artist for anxiety reasons. And then on the afternoon of the launch, anxiety reasons kicked in again, and I didn’t end up going. I couldn’t even feel crushed or guilty about it, the anxiety was just that all-encompassing. Also, additional self-hate issues kind of had me viewing ‘going to an exhibition to see my own artwork on display when I know what it looks like’ with a kind of abashed, affronted horror. I just couldn’t get excited about making a big deal out of myself.

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I know I often talk about ‘bad mornings’ with PTSD and so on, but the reality is, PTSD touches every part of my life in different ways. Sometimes it will be the ‘I slept badly, today will be a slow day.’ On days when I’m actually planning on doing something exciting, like attending my first exhibition launch (since I didn’t go the other exhibition launch a year and a half ago that I was in either), it creeps in and I don’t go.

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I did make it for an hour – hour and a half on Saturday morning. We got there early, so we sat down by the Swan River foreshore and I took pictures of ravens (ravens, not crows – Perth, ravens. Corvus coronoides to be precise). I found this relaxing.

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raven pair photo by Ravenari

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raven. photo by Ravenari

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We went in and I saw Linda, and Stephanie Gunn (and her partner and son), both of whom are good friends and a relief to see. I met a few other people, and my method for ‘looking at my art in an exhibition’ was to walk straight by it. I didn’t stand in front of it and look at it once. I looked at everything else. I admit, I was surprised to see how many originals were only featured as limited edition prints, instead of their traditional medium originals. I prefer traditional medium originals, or limited prints of digital work at an exhibition; but limited prints of a traditional work is jarring. I especially enjoyed the work of Sandy / Gas Bomb Girl, which was both original, well-executed, and a pleasure to look at.

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Anxiety dictated I leave soon after, and that hour tired me out so much I mostly just slept for the rest of the day. So many people. In fact, it was during that resting, that I got a call and then a text from Linda saying that Portable Photovoltaic Systems had sold! And then a couple of days later, I discovered that The Sea Shepherd had sold too. Currently Clearcutting at Dawn is all that remains, and is right now hanging on my loungeroom wall. Although here it is, resting on my art table:

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Clearcutting at Dawn framed - Photo and Art by Ravenari

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That was very career-affirming for me as an artist. But more importantly, I am so glad these pieces have found homes. I think one of the worst things about being an artist is executing a piece of art only to have it languish away in a cabinet or under a bed, instead of being displayed like it’s supposed to be. One doesn’t generally do art to then put it under a bed, y’know?

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I also finished – drumroll – Wandsuna – Remember?. You can see a post of all manner of details here at my Dreamwidth account. But I’ve provided a picture too:

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Wandsuna - Remember? by Ravenari

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The Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a part of my life. It won’t always be in this severity. In fact it isn’t as severe as it used to be. But it is crippling. Things that I expect myself to be able to do, because others not only find them fairly easy, but look forward to them, I find ‘do my head in.’ Launches, socialising with like-minded people in a group setting, seeing my artwork in an exhibition, even sometimes selling that artwork. As it’s invisible, it is something people in the majority don’t understand unless I take the time to explain it, and as explaining something like PTSD is difficult I frequently have to have the energy to do it (it being draining is often compounded by some reactions like; ‘but the abuse happened X years ago, shouldn’t you just be over it by now?’ and ‘I don’t want to talk about it,’ and ‘it’s too hard for me to be in this conversation,’ and ‘I don’t believe you,’ and many, many more). I think it can also be hard for people to understand how being raped and abused as a child and the subsequent PTSD I have from that, might impact something like an art exhibition. They are, after all, two wildly differing animals on the outside, right? Well, no, not especially.

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In between all the artwork I post, my life is a lot of self-work, therapy, and ‘forcing myself to get up in the morning and face the day after 4 or 5 nightmares.’ Serious, ongoing, ‘every night’ sleep disturbance is something I’ve lived with for over 23 years, and I’m only 29. I have woken up tired almost every single day of my life. But I get up, I walk around, I live my life, I do the art, and of course I rest significantly because PTSD takes it’s toll, along with all the other different things that spin around the PTSD, like the touch phobia, alexithymia, and dissociative issues.

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I’m proud of myself that I got down to the exhibition and the Hyatt, even if it was only for an hour. And I’m glad I volunteered to put some artwork in the exhibition and went through with it, even though I talked myself into pulling out about 5 times. I’m stoked that I sold anything at all, let alone two pieces, and that has ignited a warm fiery glow inside of me. Sometimes when you take a chance and challenge yourself, you’re rewarded. I’m glad I went through with it, even if I need to have a quiet month afterwards to rest. 🙂

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.