Wandsuna – Mr and Mrs Finch

So I’ve been up to stuff lately! I just completed my first semester in the Master of Communication, and now I’m on tenterhooks to see how I did overall. Nerve-wracking! I sail into my second semester over Christmas/New Years/my birthday, which is kind of relief, I’ve never been too enamoured of December in general. It’s hot.


I turn 30 this year. On the one hand, it seems to be some kind of stereotypical that I should be panicking right now. On the other hand, it’s just an arbitrary age that signifies the fact that I’m getting older. Something that happens every single day, you know? I don’t know how I feel about it. Do I wish that I’d achieved more by now? Of course. But I never knew Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder could be so overwhelming, nor did I realise when I was younger just how sensitive and gentle I am; and that has – by necessity – lead into a life where I take things slowly, and gently.


Do I have any goals for 2012? Yes. I want to finish the drafts of two books. One on shamanism, and a science fiction novel (booyah). And my personal goals? I’d like to learn a greater tolerance to stress, and experience greater periods of contentment. I suspect the two are connected.


Let me leave you with the new installment in the Wandsuna series:


Wandsuna - Mr and Mrs Finch, by Ravenari

Cabbage Butterfly Balloon

I did a series of two illustrations, a while ago, and I never did anymore. I can’t say why. It tapped into something inside of me that went against everything else I was doing. Bold colour, striking line, saturation, saturation. And then I drew this.

01. cabbage butterfly balloon by Ravenari

And yet I look at it and know I have to go back to that space one day. That space of fragmented line and downgraded colour. I need to know what it means for my soul to do this; and why this feels so much more like it will shatter me, than using brilliant pigments and bold line.


I am sometimes told by other artists that they feel intimidated by using bold colour. I don’t know why, but I have never felt this way. Perhaps it is that I hero-worshipped Franz Marc and his own striking colour symbolism as a young teenager. Or perhaps it’s just that I didn’t care when I was doing artwork, because I don’t recall ever concerning myself about colour, overmuch. And maybe that’s because I was raised first and foremost in the medium of pastels which – unlike their *name* – are known for producing the most spectacular brilliance of pigmentation of any traditional medium outside of just purchasing pure high quality pigment and doing it yourself.


I cut my eyeteeth on colour and saturation, rather than the specifity of line, which was hard for me to get at the age of 14 with only soft pastels to play with. I discovered the love I have for the line, particularly the black line, not that much later. I would have only been about 16. While I was working lineless for TEE Art (TER Art now, I believe), I was beginning to appreciate the boundaries of limning subjects with line at home in my private works. I myself am so fragmented, so much about boundary and borders and fixed spaces and brokenness, that I became addicted to the line.


One day, I guess, I’ll drift back to the low saturation illustrations that I can sometimes do, like cabbage butterfly balloon; but when? I don’t know. Originally, it was a whimsy, a flight of fancy. I didn’t know what I was doing, I only knew I wanted there to be a butterfly balloon and a snail shell in there somewhere.


The new The Get Up Kids album; ‘There Are Rules’ is awesome. It’s taken about four listens for me to realise this, but now I’m there and I have some new ‘art’ music. Keith Case still swamps me every time I hear it. I don’t know what it is about that song, but it rolls over me like a flood, and leaves me over-drenched and barren all at once. I could dedicate swathes of art to that single song; and no one would know.

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?

Pelican as Firebird

It’s no secret that I enjoy drawing animals. And drawing animals with pastels has been something I’ve always loved doing. But several years ago I got bored with it. How could I zazz it up? What could I do to spice up the animals+pastels combo? I’m sure other visual artists or illustrators or pastelators (I’m sure that’s a word, shush) might have tried a different medium, or maybe a different subject, or whatever.

Pelican as Firebird, by Ravenari / Pia Van Ravestein

I decided I might try setting my animals on fire. I’ve always had a passion for the mythologies that surround the phoenix, firebird and other variations of ‘bird on fire but strangely not dead yet.’

Rather than a typical ‘phoenix,’ I started my ‘firebirds series.’ Of which Duck, Black Swan, Pelican and Lyrebird are members (though I’d like to redo Black Swan).

Pelican as Firebird was done with pastels and carbothellos on a dark blue Mi Tientes standard sheet. This was before I’d discovered Schmincke’s, so I was using the still-wonderful Winsor & Newtons.

I often amuse myself wondering what birds I can next set on fire. On my mental list coming up, is black cockatoo, white eagle and fairy wren. Though I’m not quite sure how I’ll make the latter work. Maybe a fairy wren orgy? They are, after all, highly promiscuous birds. Even by the standards of the animal kingdom.

Wandsuna: Dressmaking

I started the Wandsuna series over seven years ago now. It started because of recurring dream sequences that involved heavily costumed people with strange heads and no faces enacting very ritualistic activities. Sometimes there would be many, sometimes only one, but one day I woke up and decided to start drawing them. And from that day, the recurring dreams stopped.

Wandsuna: Dressmaking

Wandsuna: Dressmaking

I chose pastels (Schminke, Winsor & Newton, Carbothellos) for the series, because they had the right vividity of colour that I was looking for. Using large, tinted Mi Tientes paper, I allowed my surreal visions to spill forth awkwardly.

Dressmaking was one of the later contributions to the series, and has since been destroyed (mental illness has certainly affected the Wandsuna series), though it lives on in several .jpgs.

The recurring motifs that appear in the Wandsuna series, I feel, are the following:

1. The costumed figure with no face. Sometimes they have real hands, sometimes they don’t. The costume is rich with my own symbology (of both colour, form, shape and so on).

2. The fox, or foxes. Leashed or unleashed.

3. The charred spirit.

4. Often a dichotomy between nature and industry, though in my latest works, this hasn’t been as present. I feel the dichotomy between nature and industry is present automatically, between the costumed figure and the natural elements itself.

5. A preferred use of framing withing frames, or blocky shapes to separate different aspects of the picture.

People ask me what the Wandsuna pictures mean, and I prefer to let people come to their own conclusions. Every internal narration of an artwork adds to the patina of understanding of that piece. And I am just as happy to hear interpretations wildly different to my own, as those that come quite close.