Sneak Peek of upcoming collaboration between myself and Le Animale!

Le Animale and I have been working on a collaboration over the past few months.

She has been sculpting 10 totems amongst all her other works, and then they have flown over to Western Australia where I have painted them in my own style.

Additional, separate illustrations with a more complex style, all featuring landscape elements, will be going on sale to commemorate this project within my own Etsy store.
Each totem will come with a laminated collector’s card, which features a print of the illustration, as well as a paragraph of meaning about the totem, written by myself.

Although not officially launched yet, we are taking pre-orders of the sculptures. I have been so tempted to keep all some of these for myself!

Pre-painting – From left to right (the ones crossed out are the ones already ordered) Gentoo Penguin, Red Kangaroo, Komodo Dragon, Meerkat, Amur Leopard, Dugong, Dodo, Giant Oceanic Manta Ray, Harpy Eagle and Ocelot.

This is a limited edition collaboration that will happen approximately every six months or so. In the interim we shall be working on our own projects, and not offering customs (it’s unfeasible with postage – they are jetsetting totems, created in the N. Hemisphere and painted in the S. Hemisphere!)

Hoping to officially launch in October!

If you have any questions, want to see some of the illustrations or some photos of painted sculptures between now and launch for the purpose of pre-order, feel free to email me at ophelias.diary@gmail.com 😀

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Leopard Shark as Totem

I love leopard sharks. I mean I love sharks in general, though. Because sharks are awesome. Also they have this very clear way of reminding us that the sea is their territory, and we will only ever be visitors.

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LEOPARD SHARK as TOTEM

Leopard Shark as Totem by Ravenari

REPRESENTS:

Finding your way through the dark, learning to respect and embrace tidal cycles, a time and place for everything, knowing when to go forward, and when to retreat, you cannot see clearly, rely on your other senses, using socialisation as protection, healing and nourishment, it’s okay to take your time, be wary and cautious, ocean wisdom, coastal wisdom, tidal wisdom.

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DESCRIPTION

The leopard shark is a marine species of hound shark found along the Pacific coast of North America. It has striking leopard-like markings of black-to-grey along it’s body, and juveniles have spottier markings. They are long, slender sharks, averaging 1.2 to 1.5 metres long. They are coastal predators generally found in the intertidal zone, in sometimes brackish or murky waters, and frequent bays, estuaries, sandflats, mudflats and rock-strewn areas; often in large schools with other species like smoothhounds and dogfish. Their hunting and activity is very powerfully influenced by the tides, they are opportunistic benthic feeders, eating sea worms, as well as clams, crabs, shrimp, bony fish and fish eggs. They cannot see very well, due to the murkiness associated in regions where they hunt.

They generally like to stay in a particular area, though some will travel, and will socialise with other leopard sharks of similar size and sex. Leopard sharks are very slow growing, and take many years to sexually mature. They are often caught for food and aquariums, as they pose no danger to humans and are wary by nature, and quick to flee.

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The full totem dictionary, representing 258 animals, can be found here

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I’m finally getting back into illustrating ‘as totem’ illustrations. The next four will be the PATAGONIAN MARA, the OKAPI, the BLACK MAMBA, and the KING COBRA. All will be available for sale, unless they get snapped up during the illustration process.

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!

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 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.

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

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