Work it!

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

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

photo of the day  - a commen sentiment - by Ravenari

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And this is how it looks today:

Clearcutting at Dawn by Ravenari

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kookaburra as Totem redo by Ravenari

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

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

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

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

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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?

And so we come to the end of 2010?

December has been my most productive month of the year, which is kind of saying something considering I’ve done pretty much all the artwork (what looks like over 20 complete pieces, though some were very little) in the last two weeks of the year. That was strange.

It’s seen a return to ye olde ‘as totems’ style, because sometimes the animal totems just want to ping me, and say ‘oy! DRAW US!’ This time it’s been birds from Bosnia / Herzegovina (the blackcap, red-crested pochard, little grebe, and european penduline tit), Mustelids (the european pine marten, siberian weasel, marbled polecat and lesser grison), and members of the Pheasant family (mikado pheasant, palawan peacock pheasant, reeve’s pheasant and the weird-looking blue-eared pheasant).

And then today I was pinged by eagles and raptors in general! Sheesh guys, give it a rest!

The totem that demanded the strangest colour scheme (to me), was the marbled polecat (sneak peek! This one hasn’t been listed anywhere else yet!), pictured below.

marbled polecat as totem by Ravenari

That’s just badass.

Does anyone else make New Years Resolutions? Does anyone else here actually celebrate New Years? I’m not, actually. I plan on going to bed early, and perhaps trying to see if I can sleep through very loud, thuddy parties. I’ll probably have the help of my trusty discman (I’m so oldschool, I’ve gone full circle to retro instead of just ‘too poor for an iPod’, so says Britta, the people’s champion!) and the help of trusty Sigur Ros, which can help me fall asleep, or meditate, to just about anything.

I also have a cat that’s very willing to bite my face. This seems essential to my ability to draw, well… anything!

Blast from the Past – Eucalyptus 2

Spot the raven.

Eucalyptus II in oils - by Ravenari

I identified Australian raven as my personal animal totem even before I’d graduated highschool. It’s been a long journey we’ve had together, but those are the best kinds.

This piece was done in oil pastels. I worked a lot with oil pastels for about two years, and then thought ‘fuck it’ and went to chalk pastels like Winsor & Newton and Schminke instead (moving up from Mungyo some years ago). I don’t really know why. I still have some highschool grade oil pastels in storage, but I don’t use them anymore.

Yet another piece done at the primary school park on Priestley Street, where I went to school as a child, and where I often went as a teenager to draw. That tree has been chopped down now. I wonder how many photos and pieces of art remain to remember it by?

Blast from the Past – Eucalyptus

I drew this Eucalyptus in 1997, I’m pretty sure. I was in year 11, probably fifteen, and I had gone to our local primary school park on Priestley Street and actually taken my fineliners and egg tempera paints with me. I still remember the experience vividly. I did used to take art materials with me to that park all the time, there were big, grand eucalyptus trees everywhere.

Embleton Eucalyptus by Ravenari

Sometimes, you look back on the things you release into the world, groan, hold your head in your hands, and basically have to learn how to deal with people not only seeing, but sometimes even owning things that you can’t stand.

Sometimes though, you look back on things and think, ‘wow, could I actually do that again now? Do I have that same vision?’ And I don’t. I do have vision, but it’s not this vision. I think, personally, that it shows my obsession with unconventional colouring, something I’ve always kind of had. I feel like this with writing, too. I look back on things I’ve written and sometimes wonder who that person was, what she was thinking, why she chose the words she did, how she managed to execute a sentence that I’m not sure I could execute now.

Eucalyptus trees are fantastic subjects, they’re graceful without being too ordered, they have a lazy way of growing their branches which translates to wonderful curved lines and robust curved leaves on the page. More than that, there are hundreds of species of eucalyptus to choose from.

I used to do most of my artwork outside of and independently of class, despite taking TEE Art, and Art & Design. Sometimes I’d try and cheat and find a way to add it to my portfolio by making something up, and hoping for the best. But ultimately, I drew this eucalyptus because I really felt like this eucalyptus wanted to be drawn by me. It’s my favourite kind of art; art that is a communication between subject and artist, and is its own pattern of interspecies or interobject understanding.

It has nothing to do with deadlines, commissions, commerciality, making money or even personal philosophy and politics.

It was a tree. It was some tempera paints. Some ink. A fineliner. Some paper.

I miss those days. I don’t draw nearly as freely anymore.