Cretaceous Park – Grande Prairie 66 million years B.C.

Yesterday was the annual Wearable Art Show which is held as part of the Alberta Culture Days activities here in Grande Prairie.  I’ve entered it before in 2011 and 2013 (click on the year if you want to see what I did then!)

This year I decided to go with a dinosaur theme.  I already had built the Pachyrhinosaurus head for the Amber Ball back in August so decided to build a Tyrannosaurus Rex to go with it and build a routine for them to do at the show.

I always like to take on the big projects.  For about the first time ever I didn’t do sketches for this creation before starting – I printed a couple of photos for reference which I kept on the table while working.

I started by making the teeth – they needed to dry out before attaching.  I used Crayola Model Magic and shaped it around golf tees for reinforcement (didn’t actually stop the teeth from breaking but that’s a different story!)


The eyes were made from Model Magic as well – used the Toffifee tray to press it into to get the shape, then painted with acrylic and used Model Magic clear glaze on top.


I sized a baseball cap for Stewart’s head (he has done all my Wearable Art Show entries!) in order to build the head to fit.  Then I cut fun foam to extend the bill of the cap out, built it up with large sponges, cut panels of fun foam to shape the back of the head and then covered it all with Elmer’s Glue-All and torn up bed sheets.  Same as I did for the Pachy.


I made the top of the head first then had Stewart come over to check it, then measured how big I had to make the lower jaw and made a template from paper and checked it around his neck to make sure it aligned with the top jaw.

Here is top of the head right way up.  I used small styrofoam balls for the eye ridges.


I also made bums for both of the dinos – the T-Rex was made out of a sponge cut to shape, mounted on a piece of fun foam and covered with glue and fabric – I laced elastic through the foam before mounting the bums.  The Pachy bum was made from a sacrificed Triceratops… may he rest in peace.


I bought a pair of mechanic’s gloves at the dollar store with green rubber palms and taped on fun foam “talons” which were then wrapped with fabric and glue.  I only wrapped down to the first knuckle as Stewart was going to need to use his hands.


Once I had the head, jaw, gloves and bums made I started to primer paint – the T-Rex was hunter green base and the Pachy was bright orange.


The feet were made out of batting cut to shape then completely covered in duct tape, then mounted on crocs, and wrapped in fabric and glue.  I then attached claws on the T-Rex’s.  In the next photo you can also see the bottom jaw – made to slip over the head.  On the T-Rex I stippled two other shades of green over the hunter green base on all the part were painted.



On Saturday morning everyone came to my place to get started.  Kim, who was the Pachy was wearing tights and a tank top that was painted the night before, and then finished on Saturday once she put them on.  Stewart got his base coat of body paint on and a final fitting of the head to get the strap placements right to support it.

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Then we headed over to the Centre for Creative Arts to finish the body painting on both models and get ready for rehearsal at 3 p.m.


Getting Stewart strapped in so that it all worked and moved the way he wanted took a lot of effort and time – Kim was essential in making that happen!  Thank you so much!


Waiting… Love this shot.  Looks like he’s in a doctor’s waiting room…


These are shots I took of some practice runs through we did while waiting for the dress rehearsal to start.  No formal shots yet – I’ll share when I get them.

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The routine was great – and funny!  I had an epiphany at the required rehearsal on September 14th – the joke of the routine was dinosaurs not being to adapt to changing ways of earning their livings… while we were doing a bad run through it occurred to me that the music required narration so people would understand what was happening.  A theatre friend volunteered to do a “David Attenborough” type voice over so I did up a script and sent him my music choices with timing and he made this AMAZING three-minute documentary sound track for me!  Thank you Scott!  I would upload it, but it is an MP3 file and it won’t allow me to.

And a final shot of the T-rex – I left both costumes at the Centre as they will be putting them on display.



My brother would have been 45 today

We don’t really make a point of birthdays or remembrance of deaths in my family.  But this week I remembered that September 12 would have been my baby brother Neil’s birthday.  Then I had to figure out how old he would have been.  Since he was born in 1969 he would have been turning 45.

Neil had Tuberous Sclerosis – which meant he had all sorts of tumours throughout his body – on his organs, in his brain, raised red rash on his face, etc. He only had one kidney that was still working and only at about 10% and they did MRIs every six months to monitor the brain tumours.

We had a couple of bad scares when he started to hemorrhage, passing blood on Boxing Day 1997 – they couldn’t do anything for him so they gave him narcotics and sent him home to wait.  He came out of that.  Then he started bleeding again around Christmas 1998 – this time there was a top surgeon visiting (we lived in Vancouver at the time) who operated by going in through Neil’s thigh and implanted little metal coils in the blood vessels that feed the bleeding kidney (it was the size of a football and all tumour, no longer a functioning kidney).  The coils formed blockages which stopped the bleeding AND stopped feeding the tumours.

Due to seizures as a baby and toddler, before he was diagnosed and medication controlled the seizures, he suffered some brain damage – he functioned differently, I explain it to be like autism.  He was brilliant if he was interested in something… but he never showed it to the doctors or psychologists who were assessing and testing his abilities.  He was kept in kindergarten for three years – then he was just too big.  So he was in special classes the rest of his school career (until he was almost 16.)  His last year they let him sit in a corner and do his own thing because they said he was so far below the level of the rest of the special class they couldn’t spend time with him.

This was the kid who at the age of 4 could spell and pronounce all the dinosaur names and explain their physical traits to you.  Who, later, read all the books on Greek Mythology we could find and knew all the gods and demigods names, relationships and powers AND could spell all the names.  Who, at a restaurant could add up the bill, add the tax and tell you what you owed, all in his head.  But he couldn’t figure out handling cash – no idea that he should wait for change.  Wouldn’t use a microwave as he set fire to bacon once in it.  He was a bit OCD – compulsive collector.  Had a room just for him for his Transformer collection.  He was a fantastic artist.  He was physically strong up until the last year or so.  And was a very hard worker.

He loved art, theatre and concerts, LOVED to travel and visit museums and historic sites.

He was a big, strong guy.  Usually shaved bald.  Pretty intimidating to strangers.

He came to make-up school with me and was my model – which meant I got twice the time in class (as I didn’t have to model for another student!)  They made him get in our class picture at graduation.

He used to tell people he had four mothers – because he had three older sisters who spoiled him and/or bossed him around.

He collapsed one morning in February 2006 – his skin was yellowish.  We called an ambulance… it was Friday morning.  We called my sisters and uncle who was closest – and waiting until everyone who could come arrived.  His organs were shutting down – the liver and kidneys were gone.  And he was in a constant state of seizure. Life support was turned off on Sunday.

The funeral home packaged his ashes in vials so I’ve been scattering him around the world on our travels so he could continue to get to the places he was interested in.


Me, Neil and Mom, 1991.

Me, Neil and Mom, 1991.


Mom, Neil and I, Hawaiian Cruise 1996

Me, Mom and Neil, 2003.

Me, Mom and Neil, Arica, Chile 2003.

Mom and Neil, Temple of the Sun, Peru 2003

Mom and Neil at the Temple of the Sun, Peru 2003

Picture 232

Neil at Versailles, 2003


Me, Nathalie (our guide), Mom and Neil, Paris 2003

Neil Elementary

Elementary School photo of Neil circa 1977

Neil was my best model – always game for it…

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Including my 2005 design that won Face Painter of the Year for me in 2005:


This is the last photo taken of Neil – taken at Christmas 2005.  He has just opened the present from our sister, Shari, which was a complete collection of Transformer cartoons and books… he was thrilled.  It is really hard to believe that it has been over eight years since he died.




I’ve received an award

A major award!  And no, not this one…


… although that one did arrive in a box marked “Fragile”.

I was named the recipient of the 2014 Jennie Tetreau Award is for Long Term Outstanding Service by Grande Prairie Live Theatre at their Annual General Meeting yesterday.


The criteria are: 1) continuous involvement in the activities of Grande Prairie Live Theatre over a period of five years or longer. Or, 2) an unselfish commitment of time and energy in a variety of capacities such as, board member, producer, director, actor, stage manager, production assistance or fundraising. Or, 3) recognized and respected for their contribution among members of Grande Prairie Live Theatre and in the broader community of Grande Prairie and Alberta.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to be there as I had a birthday party booked for the same time as the meeting, but I picked up my plaque this afternoon.

I got involved with GPLT shortly after we moved up here to Grande Prairie.  The first show I worked on was Love Letters in September 2000 so that is exactly 14 years ago.  During those years I have been involved with 71 shows as make-up/hair lead, 7 shows as an actor, 1 as costume designer (along with assisting with costume and props on several others) and I also served a term on the Board of Directors.  I had to go and count the number of productions I’ve been involved with… I have to say I am impressed, I didn’t realize how many there have been to-date!

I love working in theatre – I get a chance to be creative, to interact with a wide variety of people, to make friends, to have fun and to challenge myself.  And there is the immediate reaction to your work in theatre – you know if the audience likes it right away,  unlike film or editorial work where sometimes you never see the final result.  GPLT has given me the opportunity to really utilize my training and skills – from historical period plays requiring powdered wigs like The Miser and She Stoops to Conquer, to designing all the costumes for Charlotte’s Web and working with my mom to create them all, to making Macbeth’s and Dracula’s decapitated heads, to creating the characters from the Jungle Book and, my favourite so far… CATS!

I am looking forward to this season too – I’m booked for Les Miserables, The House at Pooh Corner and Cards on the Table.

I am truly honoured and pleased to be included with the past recipients of the award.  Thank you Grande Prairie Live Theatre for the years of fun and friendship and I’ll be staying around for many more years!






But… but… it is still officially summer for another 12 days…

What I woke up to this morning… and it is still falling…

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Update:  This is what it looks like in daylight…

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Time flies when you’re having fun

What have I been up to lately?  Well.. it has been a busy summer.  Lots of festivals, make-up for photo shoots and building a dinosaur and doing a body painting for the Amber Ball… and meeting Dan Aykroyd…

Dan Ackroyd

…you know, just stuff.

I built my Pachyrhinosaurus out of fun foam, sponges, a bed sheet and Elmer’s Glue – I actually took a week off work from the day-job to do it.





I did a couple of all night marathons to get it finished… I was so tired one night I knocked my pail of diluted Elmer’s glue onto one of my chair seats, the floor, the walls, the carpet… well, at least it was the same chair I got blue latex on when I was making Macbeth’s head.  And it’s not like we use them for eating on or anything.

On the day of the Amber Ball (which is for the Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum) I also did a body painting of a Velociraptor on Candi (who is one of mom’s part-time aides.)


Both the Dinosaurs were posing for photos and roaming around the Ball.  There were over 1000 people there and it was very formal – black tie with medals. We got to watch/hear The Tenors perform (amazing!) and Dan Aykroyd performed too, amongst others.  There were a lot of dignitaries there, including Dr. Phil Currie who the Museum is named after – here we are with him!

Maj Photography (49 of 220)

There was a photo booth set-up in the corner and hundreds of people came over to get photos, most with one or the other Dinosaur, or both.  Sometime the Dino Hunters were included too!

Amber Ball 2014 C-6

I had painted the museum logo on Candi’s back so in a lot of photos it is just her back.

(You can view all the photos taken at the photo booth if you like – there are some gorgeous gowns, etc!  http://majphotography.shootproof.com/curriemuseum)

And, I will explain my butterfly net… we roamed in pairs, a dino hunter with each dino for protection basically.  I roamed with Candi who had the Velociraptor on her front.  I would say to people “be vewy vewy quiet… I’m hunting velociwaptors”  and attempt to “catch” the raptor with my net.  Got a few laughs.

On the home front, we had to get a new roof.  The shingles on the roof had “baked” and curled, receding from the edge of the roof exposing the wood.  These shingles were no more than 10-11 years old as the previous owner had put them on and she only owned the place for about 18 months, and we bought it 9 years ago.   The roofer, who we have had do work here before, said he has never seen a roof go bad so fast.  Anyhow, they replaced all the shingles with new laminated fibreglass ones and it looks all nice and pretty.  When we bought this house it was the best looking and most updated on the block … but everyone around us has been updating since we moved in.  So we were looking pretty rough.  But now, it all looks nice again!  The house is 53 years old this year.  I think we’ve spent more on it in the 9 years we’ve had it than we paid for it.  We love it, and it is a really nice house.

We also hired a new full-time aide for mom in mid-July who is working out excellently.  Thank goodness.

I am entering the Wearable Art Show again this with a two-piece/two model entry.  The show is on Saturday, September 27th this year.  Lots of work still to do – I see another marathon session in basement coming…


Now I know it is summer

We’ve had a warm spell and the flowers are doing well.

First let me introduce you to my oldest Prairie Mallow – seeded by itself from the neighbour’s yard to the west when she was trying to eradicate them from her yard!  They self-seed aggressively and we have them popping up all over.  I’m encouraging them to spread in my west flower bed as it is very dry and takes a lot of effort to get annuals to do well.  These plants have massive taproots and are pretty self-sufficient.


Here are close-ups of the flowers… I think they are quite similar to hibiscus – five petals, prominent stamen…


DSC09523It will continue to bloom all summer!

And my clematis and petunia planter.  The clematis have just started to bloom. They will continue all summer as well.  I really want to get a big arch trellis to put over those stairs – we don’t use that door at all.



And here is my mom’s lily.  My uncle brought her a single lily in a pot when she came home from the hospital in Spring 2010.  I planted it outside right away as we are allergic.  This first photo is the plant in 2011.


And this is what we have right now!!



I plan to split up the bulbs and spread them out a bit more to fill up that corner.  Oh and just for reference this is the same spot in the winter…  You can see the piece of driftwood peeking out.

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Some Dinosaurs from Canada Day

I painted a small group that were going to be riding on the Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum‘s float in the Canada Day Parade on Tuesday morning.

In preparation I had printed off some examples for them to have a look at.  One of the kids had brought along a large dinosaur book, just in case I didn’t know dinosaurs.  We did end up using one of the book illustrations to base the Velociraptor design on.

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The Museum is currently under construction and I think it will be open for December.  They are holding a Grand Opening on August 9th with an Amber Ball with lots of celebrities and performers, a mass motorcycle ride out to the museum led by Dan Ackroyd and family, and other events.

I will be doing a body painting for the Ball with multiple models which should be fun!


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Shannon Fennell

Shannon Fennell

International Award Winnning Make-Up Artist, Face & Body Painter

I am a professional make-up artist with credits in film, television, theatre and editorial.  My face painting book YOUR FACE OR MINE was published in 2007 by Snazaroo USA Inc. is widely available worldwide and I offer a multitude of make-up related services and retail instructional products for face painters.

Some of my awards include 2005 International Face Painter of the Year, 2006 Winner of Fantasy Worldwide Face Painting Contest in Putte, Belgium, Second Place at the 2007 US Body Painting Festival, as well as over 50 other awards and prizes. 

I love creative projects and can do everything from wedding make-up to custom SFX appliances, large scale international sporting events to individual appointments at Halloween, birthday parties to trade shows.  No job too big or too small.


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