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.

I’m here, I’m alive!

Look how many weeks it’s been!

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Well, in the time that has passed us by, I have been to the Cottesloe Sculpture by the Sea Exhibition, which was busy and lovely all at the same time. There were some truly awesome, incredible sculptures:

by Ravenari

The basic premise is, a large outdoor exhibition that is free to the public (and designed to be interactive to varying degrees) is installed onto the famous tourist beach of Cottesloe. We were there during the opening weekend, so we saw more people than sculptures!

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I saw these metal hot air balloons and looked up to view them properly. I noticed about fifty people walk past who never bothered to look at them from a different angle. Interact with your art people!

photo by Ravenari

There was also wildlife to contend with, as feral corellas were about. Now, corellas belong in Australia, it’s just they’re a pest in Perth and are ousting local parrots.

corella by Ravenari

I have been working hard on a lot of art. The one I finished most recently was this commission of a Parson’s Chameleon, which are endemic to Madagascar. It was a lovely bout of synchronicity with this one. I had watched David Attenborough’s documentary series Madagascar (which I highly, highly recommend) and had felt an overwhelming strong piull to illustrate a chameleon. A few days later a wonderful client emailed me with a commission for a chameleon; one of the very species of chameleon that had inspired the feeling!:

Parson's Chameleon by Ravenari

Most importantly, the earthquakes, tsunami and nuclear issues have been happening in Japan. This has hit me quite personally for two reasons. One, I love Japan. But two, I had a very good friend in Tokyo while the worst was happening (he’s in a safer place now), and one can’t help but worry.

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Also importantly (but of less global significance), my beautiful bengal cross rescue cat Maybe got very sick. She was diagnosed with Feline Idiopathic Cystitis; but a more aggressive form in that the struvite crystals (all thousands of them) were in a rare and unusual form that was more unpleasant for the bladder. Basically, she was urinating a lot of blood. She’s had a complete diet change and seems to be doing better, but for a while there it was four vet visits in three days. The last visit required sedation and needles to the bladder and tests and all sorts of things. Here she is recovering from one of the vet visits:

'I hate the vet' - Maybe by Ravenari

And of course how did her older ‘brother’ Moet react to the whole thing?

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Well, he wasn’t too fussed:

champion of relaxation - 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.

Photos of the day – my art studio.

I’ve sufficiently recovered from the ‘scorpion of doom’ incident, have eaten dinner, fed the monsters of the house (the cats) and decided to share some photos of my studio with you today. Oh, some work in progress stuff is there too. 🙂

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In this one, you can see my latest spoils from the vastly overpriced Jacksons (it’s not like there’s much selection in Western Australia, it’s that or nothing.) Anyway, I’m in love with these shades of green (and that sneaky shade of yellow). You can also see some of my hair at the top of this picture. THAT’S BECAUSE I MOULT LIKE A GERMAN SHEPHERD. So annoying. About four times a week I panic because I feel something crawling up my arm only to look and realise that a piece of hair has come loose and is clinging to me. There’s some very nice product placement in this shot. Not that I like my Nokia. Okay, I guess that part wasn’t nice product placement.

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photo of the day 01 by Ravenari

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I like pens. I have a lot of pens. That’s probably a good thing, I average about one binned per illustration. I also have a lot of lipglosses (the container behind is just lipglosses). I don’t really ‘collect’ much, except for lipgloss.

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pens by Ravenari

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Glamourkins, which are seriously, seriously awesome pendants made from fairytale and storybooks, with wonderful, magical quotes. I’ve always loved wearing writing, and in all likelihood my first tattoo will be words. As an artist, I’m a bit weird that way. 😉 But as a writer it makes total sense.

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Glamourkins photo by Ravenari

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Doodling AND philosophy for the price of one stupid piece of note paper!

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why does socialising make me so sad by Ravenari

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Man, lots of stuff. Clutter clutter clutter. Look at the massive stack of artwork on the table!

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clutter clutter clutter byRavenari

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Saving the best for last. My current ‘works in progress.’ Well, I think it’s the best for last, anyway.

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works in progress by Ravenari

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If you could pick something for me to take photos of, and it was within my power to take photos of them – what would you like me to take photos of? 🙂

Scorpion of Doom.

I was going to talk about how much I love nature.

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I was really going to talk about how much I love nature.

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AND THEN I FOUND A LIVE SCORPION IN MY STUDY (or Maybe found it and then was rapidly grabbed and put away before she could hurt herself, which is what she clearly wanted to do) AND I CHANGED MY MIND.

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The SCORPION OF DOOM

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I was going to be all like, hey I saw a western brush wallaby in the bushland today and it stared at us for ages and it was all magical and crap.

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But then I changed my mind. Glen’s all like ‘I didn’t know we had scorpions in Perth!’ and I’m like ‘I did, I didn’t know we had them IN OUR HOUSE.’

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We are now discussing the merits of moving anywhere but here. (I actually prefer close encounters with snakes over scorpions, but that’s because snakes can’t grab you with two pincers before stabbing the crap out of you.)

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(Anyone concerned with the welfare of the scorpion should know that we ‘rehomed it’ in some bushland far far far away. FAR AWAY.)

That very first story…

Did you know I used to draw a webcomic? And it was mostly awful. But the concept remains and is actually the new novel that I’m plotting out now. Anyway, you can see one of my really different long ago frankly crap illustrations of the main character.

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(Disclaimer, I drew this on the 887 bus route on the way to ECU one day, which, as anyone knows, does not lend itself to smooth lines).

Jess by Ravenari

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Well, anyway, it’s come up because the webcomic originally started as my ‘first ever novel’ when I was 12 years old. Then about 150 pages was irrevocably lost during a move to Alexander Heights and I only had the first three chapters left in hard copy. Gutted, I left it alone and moved onto other things (namely: highschool). One day though, I looked back and realised I still liked the basics of the story. And, shockingly, I looked back only to realise I’d been writing a main character who had PTSD and alexithymia before I knew I had PTSD or alexithymia. It was – and still is – like my 12 year old self had a snapshot of the kind of person I’d be at the age of 18, and wrote a character about that in a science fiction world on another planet.

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That was…incredibly disturbing, and it still is. Reading back on it now, I find myself thinking; ‘how did I know?’ Of course, some things aren’t the same. I’m not, for example, a gun-toting mercenary strategist who inherits a major spy syndicate.

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Anyway, then I wrote it out as a NaNoWriMo novel. And then I drew it as a 24 page webcomic. And then I shelved it again, and finally I’ve come back to it and I think this time I’m ready to write it ‘for real.’ It might only ever be ‘for myself,’ but I’m certainly ready to write it for real.

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In the meantime, I made a salmon macaroni pasta salad (with wholegrain mustard and celery and other things) this weekend, which was a hit (i.e. there’s none left). Tomorrow night I’m making a spaghetti with roasted garlic, onions, tomatoes, mushrooms and cabanossi. I was going to make that the other night but changed my mind. This paragraph is in tribute to Putu, who probably doesn’t have much access to cabanossi pasta right now (but I could go some umeboshi onigiri if you want to swap!)

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Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, but I don’t actually celebrate it. Is that bad? I prefer spontaneous romance over ‘scheduled commercial romance.’ And while I know I could still turn it into a lovely, sweet day… I’d just prefer not to do so on that day. Do you celebrate Valentine’s Day? Do you do anything special for yourself when you’re single?

While the rest of the world has WTF? weather, we have FTW weather.

It’s been an interesting February so far. Some family drama, some personal drama, some interpersonal drama, website drama, ISP drama, money drama, some drama llama. Basically… well you get the picture.

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There’s also been a lot of artwork. On the 1st of February, I had 9 (NINE!) different pictures in progress. I’ve completed five, though I’m staggering putting them up (as an experiment), and the other four are… coming along. Sort of.

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Here. Have a Green Sea Turtle Totem:

Green Sea Turtle as Totem by Ravenari

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You can buy the original, and many others, Right here at my Etsy.

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I’ve also been beefing up the Animal Totem Dictionary. Did you know I maintained one? Maybe. Did you know it’s the most comprehensive on the internet? (Unless Google is studiously avoiding any more comprehensive ones). Well. So far, it is. 246 animal totems represented and counting. Boy that’s a lot of animals. And yet, it’s hardly any at all. It wouldn’t even come close to representing half of the world’s species of ants. Isn’t that incredible?

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I thought it would be hilarious the other day to do something like ‘Internet as Totem’ (which I’d probably have representing mostly themes like ‘innovation followed by conservativism and conformity, followed by rebellion of such.’) And then I started thinking of an ‘objects as totem’ kind of theme. Like cars, paintbrushes, the eponymous cookie jar, and so on.

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Tomorrow we are meeting a couple who own Finnish lapphunds. There are less than 200 Finnish lapphunds in Australia, so they’re not exactly easy to meet! I’m looking forward to it though.

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In the meantime, while the rest of Australia is hit with cyclones, monsoons, flash floods, storm surges, lightning storms, bushfires and such. Perth looks mostly like this:

Hillary's Beach by Ravenari

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How has your February been so far?

My cluttered art desk.

I’m working on about four different things right now. A new Steampunk piece for the Future Imperfect exhibition (giant elephants, logging trees? Yes!) I’m also working on colouring three mini-dragons. And then not on the desk, is a further three mini-dragons that need inking.

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Oh, and I have a frilled neck lizard to colour. Insanity.

my scrappy art desk - by Ravenari

In the top right you can see my Totoros, which after all this time smell like vanilla (no one knows why, but it’s very nice.) I love them. I’m currently using watercolour pencils and I have a fair amount.

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Today, actually, I finished transcribing the last 100 hard-copy pages of edits of Every Day Awake (my work-in-progress novel). So I’ve complete a third draft and need to get it reprinted. After a read-through, I’ll decide if it’s worth giving to others yet to see what they think. I culled 13,500 words, which was necessary. It may need more culling, but I think it’s a much tighter piece in general now.

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It’s been an odd day, but humid, hot days do that to me. On days like today I dream of cool spaces, forests, gentle rains, gusty breezes. I am incompatible with this landscape, yet I love it so much. But cooler climes beckon.

The problem with being too driven…

The problem with being too driven in self-work and self-awareness.

Tonight I am pondering the endless work of Sisyphus. The endless pushing of the stone up the hill, the endless rolling of the stone to the bottom of the hill, the eternal suffering for the sake of ‘progress,’ and the slaves that it makes of us.

Sisyphus pushing the rock.

Progress is a myth in the sense that; progress can happen, but it will never be the salvation of humankind while humankind exists. To gain this non-existent progress, we must work endlessly, more than ever, we must slave for something we cannot have, and for something that is also endless. We must be Sisyphus, ever struggling, always tired, never ‘there yet.’

And tonight I’m pondering it specifically in relationship to my own attitudes towards self-work. My struggle for the myth of progress within myself, has created a situation where I have become a slave to that progress, and now I suffer greatly for it. That is its greatest irony. The flaw of my consciousness that pits me against myself.

So once more, in order to understand this, I turn to the innate wit and knowledge of animals. And again, to one of the most unthinking of animals; the snail. I do not wish to be a slave to self-work. It makes me suicidal and at best, it makes me absolutely certain that life is without a point. That is not something they teach you about in therapy, and – I believe – it is not in the curricula of therapists either. That self-work can lead to death if it is not balanced with an unconscious, ‘animal’ care of the self.

It can’t all be conscious thought and maintenance. That is to be a slave to consciousness. And without consciousness, we wouldn’t have mental illness in the first place (no, really; the most unconscious of animals don’t even have ‘mental illness’ in their lexicon for a reason). It is a grand irony then, that the very thing that makes us so dysfunctional by animal standards is the very thing we – sometimes wrongly – depend upon to regain function.

Animism has taught me differently. Consciousness has its place, but so does unconsciousness which makes up the vastness of the bodymind in the first place, and informs our ‘free will’ so that we will nothing that our unconscious doesn’t ask of us first. And I have learnt more from the instinctive and innate world of other species than I have from any book or any other human animal. Consciousness will have its place in my healing, but right now it has made me a slave of the healing process, and it will be my unconscious that frees me.

I am tired of being a Sisyphus to my own mental health and mental illness. I will try to go a Snail’s way. I will let the great stone roll down to the bottom of the hill and leave it there. I will go and innately find food and shelter, rest and play, rain and crispy green things. Not in the name of progress, not even in the name of health, but because that is what animals will sometimes do. And if health or progress comes of it, then I am sure the therapeutic world may be happier, and my friends and family might be happier, and I might even benefit from it in the long-term.

snail as totem - by Ravenari

But if nothing comes of it, at least in the short term I cannot say that my life is pointless any longer. Because there is nothing pointless in the rain and green crispy things, in rest and play, in food and shelter.

And because there is a great deal of pointlessness in being Sisyphus, rolling my stone of ‘self-work’ up the hill only to see it fall to the bottom again representing yet another allotment of heavy work for the tired and overworked; the endless, eternal suffering for the myth of progress.

02. all you need is - by Ravenari

Can it be art AND writing?

Something from the trenches:

silver wrens by Ravenari - SOLD

I’ve been not very inspired lately in the art stakes (outside of my silver/bronze/green-gold animals which are a ton of fun). Part of it is December, a month where I always experience a kind of major relapse in my post-traumatic stress disorder and have symptoms similar to Reverse SAD (never been officially diagnosed and some can sub as PTSD symptoms, so…yeah) and that affects my ability to get art out there (I say after having completed 10 illustrations this month; but it never feels like much when they’re little!)

I’m also sort of changing things up a little bit. Things are still ‘my style,’ but I’m mixing and matching up creative elements in my work and I’m not sure what they means for where I’m going. Finally, I have two Steampunk pictures to finish (and, er, start!) for next Easter’s Swancon/Natcon50 Future Imperfect art exhibition.

As I’m writing this, my cat Moet is drinking my paint-water. Business as usual, then! Maybe, our bengal cross, hasn’t discovered the joys of paint-water yet. Which is a relief. As she chews and eats teatowels and got herself a stomach impaction earlier in the year. She’s self-harmey enough, thanks!

Here’s a list of 10 things about what I’ve been doing lately.

1. Fringe is like my favourite show ever right now, and Misfits is AWESOME. Also, Community stop-motion Christmas episode!
2. Home-made chicken satay and sweet & sour plum.
3. Swimming again; yay swimming!
4. Killing a surfeit of redback spiders congregating around our house. Malvern Springs is mostly about finding mature venomous spiders in your house and thinking ‘OH GOD HAVE YOU BEEN HERE THE ENTIRE TIME?!’
5. Flashbacks and nightmares and scares, oh my!
6. Clicker training the cats (no, really).
7. Finished the first draft of a novel.
8. Read a whole bunch of new literature, loved The Wind-Up Girl and Karen Healey’s Guardian of the Dead.
9. Thinking about going back to university to do Honours. And by ‘thinking about’ I mean, ‘actually called them and got myself re-activated as a student in the system.’ I need a supervisor though.
10. Playing kick to kick outside on the oval, with the balmy Summery breezes at night, under the stars. 🙂

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I have often contemplated making this blog an art AND writing blog. I have had a few short stories and poems published in my time, though I personally identify as a crummy non-published novelist in terms of writing.

It’s difficult. Writing agents say you should have a writing blog, and art people say you should have an art blog!

Can I have both? Is this too confusing for the masses (and by masses, I mean my housemate and best friend Glen and my cats who avidly forget to read this blog too)?

I was always taught never to underestimate my audience (which I’m sure Glen and the cats are grateful for). I’m going to have both! Two for one!

And remember, when in doubt, there are always plenty of originals to check out at my Etsy store!