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.

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? 🙂