Illustrating those that have passed on.

Recently, I’ve been inking a commission of a recently passed, lovely cat. Inking individual beings as opposed to collective totems is a very different process. Generally, in terms of ‘ease’, totem animals are easier than living animal companions are easier than passed animal companions.

Because of my practices within shamanism, it is taboo to contact a passed being companion within 13 days of its passing (unless I was the one who personally ‘pomped for the being), but after that, this taboo lifts, and it becomes okay.

And though it’s never easy, it’s always rewarding and worthwhile (hopefully as much, if not moreso, for the client). There is a profound sense of being honoured by the animal in question, and often, a profound sense of love comes through. Not for me, I am just the messenger – but for the client in question.

I suppose if I wasn’t a spiritual person, I’d be singing that love through in a different way. But because of my shamanic practices, there are trance state and spiritual conversations involved, there are random feelings or colours or textures or even thoughts in a way that is just a different flavour to illustrating totem animals.

I’ve drawn many animal companions over the years and the process fills me with similar emotions each time. Being honoured by both the client and the animal companion and, in some cases, my own guides  who help me make contact. The fear/hope that comes from wanting to do my very best and pushing myself hard and hoping clients can see that. The satisfaction of actually putting my pen or brush to the board and seeing life emerge from a static white space.

But I can’t spend too long blogging, I must get back to work. 🙂


PS: I can’t believe it’s been over 8 months since I last blogged here. Boy and howdy do I have some exciting news! But that can wait for another post. 🙂

Merry Christmas and happy holidays from Ravenari and Startail! :)

I did this up today. Just then! I scanned it while it was still wet! I never learn. Lol. Here’s hoping there’s some more Startail love in the future. 😀

startail christmas 2011 - by Ravenari

Happy holidays for those who celebrate, may 2012 be all that you desire and more.

Paperblanks + Interview = awesomeness. :)

Hi folks!

A while ago, I found Paperblanks journals. Belatedly, I might add, but I found them and I was excited and now I have TOO MANY and simultaneously NOT ENOUGH and you know how it is when you like to journal and sketch on things, you want all the things, basically.


I tweeted something to this effect, and Paperblanks tweeted back, and then magically and wonderfully I am now featured in an interview on their Featured Artist’s section of their blog:


Here’s the interview in all it’s awesomeness!


Check it out, and enjoy the wonderful journals while you’re there too. 🙂 It was a great interview, and you might find out some things about me you didn’t know!


And because I haven’t done this in a while: Did you know there are other places to keep up with what’s happening with Ravenari? 🙂


Ravenari @ Facebook.

Ravenari @ DeviantArt

Ravenari’s Totem Animal Dictionary

ETSY (Originals only)

My Twitter @ Ravenari:

Ravenari’s Portfolio

Too many rabbits…

Well, obviously:

Wandsuna - Remember? Artwork by Ravenari

I’ve been doing so much art and writing lately, that I’ve actually lost track of blogging here. That’s just… incredible. Along with the art and the writing, I’ve been going through something of a PTSD exacerbation since mid-December, and have been feeling less buoyant as a result (somewhat of an understatement). There was a trigger in real life that caused this (a catalyst you might say), so at least I have the ‘comfort’ of knowing it doesn’t come from no where. But at the same time, three and a half months is a long time to deal with an increase in all of my symptoms, from nightmares to bruxing to stomach upsets to flashbacks to losing time to just general miserableness.


So, I decided to get some of it out of my system, and returned to the cathartic and personally symbolic Wandsuna series. The Wandsuna series started around 1998, I believe, and back then it was exclusively limited to pastels. But the series has been evolving as I’ve been, and now we’re into inked, bulgy-eyed rabbits:

Wandsuna - Remember - Detail by Ravenari

This illustration, entitled Wandsuna – Remember? is unfinished, and still needs to be coloured, but there is a liminal moment after inking and pre-colouring where I feel I have a finished piece before the piece is a finished piece. It drifts between being complete and not complete. I treat the inking process as a ‘completion,’ and intentionally put more detail into the piece than can be visibly seen post-colouring. We all have secrets. Even the Wandsuna pieces do. What can’t you see behind the colour, even up close? Well…


What you can see however, is too many rabbits.

wandsuna - remember - detail 02 by Ravenari

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.)


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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


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


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.


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

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.


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.


Here. Have a Green Sea Turtle Totem:

Green Sea Turtle as Totem by Ravenari


You can buy the original, and many others, Right here at my Etsy.


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?


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.


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.


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


How has your February been so far?

On dogs, PTSD, and being an artist with issues.

This is not a ‘new art’ entry. Though… okay, alright then, here’s something I’m working on:

Zentas the Mini-Dragon- by Ravenari


Now for the actual entry.


In one camp (CAMP 1), you have many mental health officials and organisations release studies that say things like: Cats and dogs markedly reduce the stress of those with mental illness, and provide a sense of responsibility that can sometimes save a person’s life. Sometimes, the only thing that helps a suicidal person get out of bed in the morning, is feeding their dog.


And then in the other camp (CAMP 2), you have many dog training officials and organisations release information that say things like: Cats and dogs benefit best when they’re raised in a stable and consistent environment. Remember that dogs need socialising, and to try and minimise tension, stress and fear around them, because dogs can pick up on this and it can create behavioural problems.


And then in my camp, you have a conscientious, but mentally ill person who wants very dearly to have a dog in her life, but knows very much that my mental illness would on occasion create atmospheres that may stress a dog out.


Now what there doesn’t seem to be is another camp of specialist dog trainers (or professionals in general) that have read both the scientific studies on ‘rescue people’ (i.e. humans with mental illness who would benefit from the presence of dogs), and dog happiness (i.e. dogs who would benefit from the presence of a more calm environment), and create dog/human positive-reinforcement training techniques designed for the mentally ill.


I know some trainers out there exist like this, but in Western Australia, you can’t even find trainers to specialise in helping you train a professional therapy dog, let alone step in and offer as much understanding reassurance to the human as to the dog. Now I hope I’m wrong in this, but the divide between the initial camp 1 and camp 2 is quite large.


What to do? I don’t know. Unfortunately, my illness has gotten in the way of me having a dog once before, and with no trainers to help me through my very specific issues, I’ve had to put getting a dog on the backburner. But my heart is open for a dog, I love dogs, I love being around them, I love spending time with them, I research training techniques (I’ve clicker trained my cats, particularly Maybe, who thinks it’s the best thing ever), I research dog breeds, I research dog genetics, I watch Youtube videos of dogs that I enjoy, and more than that, I contact breeders to ask them questions about their breeds.


I think a lot of people don’t overthink things as much as I do. People want to do the best for their dogs, sort of, but many don’t buy books, or research training, or figure out a lot of things regarding their dog before they get it. Many people learn ‘the hard way.’ And many people still get it mostly right by happy accident. But I’m not ‘many people,’ I am a person with post-traumatic stress disorder, and a dissociative disorder. I have nightmares at night, and can shriek and flail and be very frightened – which rules out very protective breeds. I have to be responsible and do a lot of research.


And I have to try not to scare the crap out of myself, which is very easy because you know… all the stuff I just mentioned above.


There’s no easy answers for me. I am, in a word, a stresshead. Being in the presence of animals does significantly relax me, and my cats are – according to our vet – happy, friendly, well-socialised cats that are sweet-natured. In their presence I can go from ‘ZOMG LIFE IS HARD’ too ‘aw, pretty furry animal, do you want to do some training? Let’s play!’


But enough about that, I want to know where the meet is between camp 1 and camp 2. Where are the trainers and psychologists meeting together to make pets work for people with mental illnesses in ways that are both humane for the pets, AND humane for the people? If we can spend so much time rescuing dogs and cats (I am a big believer in rescue dogs and cats), surely we can spend as much time rescuing the people that need so much help to make it through the day. And surely, considering that both people in camp 1 and camp 2 tend to care about living beings, there is room for a niche to develop? A niche of ‘people who help people with mental illness have pets.’


We have a growing number of ‘people who help people with physical disabilities have pets,’ but – at least where I am – there doesn’t seem to be much of the ‘helping people with mental illness have pets.’


That’s a sad thing, because clearly there are benefits to be had all round if the situation was managed safely and ethically. And on a very personal (and probably selfish) level, I find it is yet another of the things I am impacted by, in terms of having these illnesses. Something as straightforward as expanding our family – that millions of people do – is not straightforward here. It is not straightforward, but in a more supportive and nurturing environment; it could be easier.


It could even be healing.


I see many futures for myself. Too many. In a world where one of my debilitating symptoms was being certain I wouldn’t live out the year (every year), starting to overcome that has presented a world of overwhelming possibilities. But in one of those futures, I take the time to get a dog. It is a journey of trial and error, but with research, there is love and happiness too. And maybe one day, I can help there to be more professionals who can help people with mental illness have successful relationships with their canines; especially those people with mental illness who are conditioned by their disorders to lack confidence in themselves and their abilities. It is often those people who most need the animals who aren’t prone to overthinking. Who do just often enjoy the simple pleasures of life.


Of course, in yet another future I see myself as a professional space-travelling chocolatier. So…you know. O.O

The Black-Maned Liontail Bird of Paradise.

While exploring for new faux birds of paradise, we were shocked and delighted to find a good, healthy specimen of a black-maned liontail bird of paradise in breeding plumage.

the black-maned liontail bird of paradise

On the rugged coastline of the Matako-Smith island, lives the rare black-maned liontail bird of paradise. The male is a strikingly coloured bird, but spends the majority of its life living in the similarly coloured stoneleaf tree, and so is frequently hard to spot, and well-camouflaged. Like all maned liontail birds of paradise, the female is drably coloured, with only a blush of red on her wings. The black-maned liontail is said to be possessed of a curse by locals, and unlike many other birds of paradise, he is not hunted for his feathers or his meat.

The maned liontails are related to the moon-sickles, but possess a unique physiological behaviour. Males grow a profuse, luscious ‘mane’ before every breeding season. The larger the mane, the more likely he is to secure a mate. Upon doing so, he allows the female to guide him back to her nest, where she plucks every individual mane feather to line her nest. The feathers increase the warmth for offspring, and in turn, the larger the mane; the larger the chance of survival during the cold, Winter months.


You have to tilt your heads to really get the full impact of the iridescence, but when you do!

black-maned liontail bird of paradise by Ravenari


AVAILABLE AS A PRINT (and jigsaw puzzle, greeting cards, postcards and so on)


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!

Silver swans and silver ferrets

Watercolour pencils aren’t a graceful medium when I use them.

they can end up looking kind of scrappy.

For example –
We start with this…

But then it sort of turns into this.

And then it becomes this.

The silver swans are available at Etsy!

In the meantime, there’s an upcoming pheasantpalooza (no really, I’m illustrating four of them. FOUR! One’s a peacock pheasant though, so that’s okay).