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. 🙂

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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? 🙂

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.

White Elephants as Totem

This is probably one of my favourite ever colour schemes (another commission). The photo, which is the most accurate for colour balance, some of the colours I could only create by layering three or four layers of pencil, and it was awesome. 🙂

Interested in a print? Go here.