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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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? 🙂

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? 🙂

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.

Portable Photovoltaic Systems.

Ravens – originally bringers and stealers of the sun in great mythology – become modified to absorb sun for the people, and then discharge it regularly into power stations.

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Portable Photovoltaic Systems - by Ravenari 2011

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This is for the NATCON 50: FUTURE IMPERFECT art exhibition, from the 21-25 of April, at the Hyatt, in Perth. You should come down and check it out!

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I’m not sure where others are taking their retro-futurism, but my own brief which I proposed to the panel, was to specifically show animals in the future only really being allowed to survive if they can be augmented and used for the gain of humans. That does – sadly – sound like something we’d jump at the chance of doing.

The arrogance and narcissism of the human animal is incredibly far-reaching. I console myself with the knowledge that one day we will be extinct like any other animal, and we won’t be here to see the next evolutions, see the Earth do what the Earth does best; create spectacular new life forms before killing them off in even more spectacular ways.

And now I shall be getting onto a commission, before hopefully drafting the third and final illustration for the exhibition, which I tentatively think may involve augmented giant elephants in the logging industry. I mean; they already do destroy trees in the wild, it wouldn’t be that much of a lateral step… but we’ll see. 🙂

Portable Photovoltaics? Well, maybe.

I think I love inking more than any other part of the arting process. Or my arting process, anyway. I work with Artline Drawing Systems in 0.5 and 0.1, though sometimes I cut down my 0.5 to release more ink, and sometimes I will stray into 0.8 territory (though not in this one).

The 0.1s run out the fastest. But then, I put them through their paces.

Portable Photovoltaic Systems - pre-colouring - by Ravenari

I can’t believe it’s only the first week of January. It actually seems to have progressed remarkably slowly. Everyone else around me constantly exclaims; ‘I can’t believe how fast this day, week, month, year has gone!’ And I’m often occupying this strange space where I think ‘oh my god I can’t believe how much I packed into that year and how slow it went!’ I don’t know what that is, but I like it. My mascot is a snail.

Portable Photovoltaic Systems - pre-colouring - detail - by  Ravenari

I don’t understand how governments can subsidise some things, but won’t subsidise others. It wouldn’t kill them to subsidise solar power on buildings (though hopefully not ravens, like in this picture!) I’ve been thinking about getting solar power for our own home, but it’s expensive, and on a Disability Pension, regular haircuts are ‘expensive’ so, y’know. It’s one of those ‘one day, when I have the money’ things.

Portable Photovoltaic Systems - pre-colouring - detail - by Ravenari

It’s very strange occupying a capitalist culture, and yet… not enjoying so many parts of it. Because it’s capitalism that stops that kind of subsidisation. It’s wanting to yank as much money as possible from fossil fuels while they’re still around.

Drives me kind of crazy.