Shannon Fennell's Blog

My life, cooking, make-up, travel, art and the occasional rant!

home from living canvas


I got home this afternoon after a fantastic trip!!

I left for San Francisco last Friday morning on Air Canada and connected in Edmonton with a United flight to SFO… my backpack, which has fit in the overhead compartments on ALL my other trips did NOT on this plane… so I jammed it under the seat in front of me… unfortunately that left no leg space AT ALL for me! 

The flight attendant came and yanked it out and said “I’ll find a seat for it” and strode forward towards the front of the plane leaving me looking forlornly after my pack.

I thought she was just going to slide it under a seat where no one was sitting but she went up and found two empty seats, put the backpack in the aisle one and did up the seat belt.

Bumped up to Economy Plus

Bumped up to Economy Plus

After she came back to the rear of the plane I asked if I could go sit in the seat next to my backpack… her answer was… “No, that’s Economy Plus.”   So I asked if I could have its drink then…  

I arrived at SFO about 3:30 and my friend Nina aka Twinkie Dee Star picked me up.  We went directly to the Kryolan store where Joe Korts had pulled my order in advance for me… unbeknownst to me there was a 30% off sale so, of course, I had to buy 30% more stuff!!!   I am well stocked now for quite some time!!

We then went to pick up Twink’s friend Diane and then searched for parking.  Had a nice light dinner at an Irish Pub and went to see Beach Blanket Babylon!  I LOVED IT!  The wigs and hats inspired me and I had an almost uncontrollable urge to build something.

The next day I did a little shopping while Twink did a gig.  Then we went to dinner in Chinatown and closed the place… It was this restaurant’s 90th anniversary and we ate… and ate… and ate… and then I stopped… and Twink ate… and ate… 🙂 We finally got the leftovers put in a container and went to leave and realized the place had been closed for half an hour!!

The next day we went to Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39, and Ghirardelli’s where I had a gorgeous banana split for lunch…



Then we walked back to the car while stopping to look through art galleries – saw some original Dr. Seuss art and amazing bronzes. 

Got photos of Alcatraz and the Golden Gate and sea lions and cable cars and Coit Tower…

Pier 39... arf arf arf

Pier 39... arf arf arf

Then we headed to San Jose for Living Canvas.

We got in and headed for the hospitality suite where those who had arrived introduced themselves and had some snacks.  Then Twink, Arla Albers, Paula Moors and I went to dinner at a very nice restaurant at another hotel…

And… we closed that place.  We were having such a fun time that we didn’t notice them clearing all the other tables off and mopping the floor!

Twink, Arla and I were roommates and I think we were a pretty good fit… everyone was tidy!  Although with two of us being ex-military you would expect that…

The convention got going the next morning and I was able to take quite a few classes myself and was I blown away!!

The first class I took was Andrea Chillemi’s Tribal Class… this was amazing.  Andrea is going to be a star I think.  She had prepared a presentation that was so complete and well thought out that it couldn’t help but inspire anyone there.  She broke down common designs to their core and then built them up again as tribals… and her visual aids and demonstration really made it so, well, simple to do!  I was immediately inspired, dug out a brush and black paint and doodled through the rest of the class coming up with my own “designs”…  I can’t wait to see more of Andrea.

Gen Keller’s class was also great – she had prepared full colour handouts of what she called “recipes” for the designs she was demonstrating (the class was so full that there were not enough to go around but she will email them to those who want them…) Her use of colour is really striking and the way she uses it and black for details is really very unique and different.  Definitely worthwhile for anyone!

Valerie Polega’s classes on “cheek art” were interesting and a great demonstration on how it actually can be quite fun and more than we often think it is.  Her method and explanations were great and the full-colour handouts were greatly appreciated.   She breaks designs down to simple core shapes to construct and makes even what appears to be complicated look easy and straightforward.

Rebecca Tonkowich’s Split Cake classes were great too… I took both of them.  I am hopeless with roses and since I was determined to get them right I figured I might as well go back and try again!!  She handed out cakes to those who didn’t have them and even loaned everyone HER personal brushes to use!!   Unfortunately I did NOT master the rose but I have to say my peacock feathers ROCKED!!

One stroke peacock feathers with embellishments

One stroke peacock feathers with embellishments

I also was able to be in Jodi Carr’s Fantasy Faces class… and was her first model.  She turned me into a witch… I wonder if she was trying to tell me something??

Jodi Carr's painting on me... I dunno... it it "Me?"

Jodi Carr's painting on me... I dunno... it it "Me?"

Those were only the classes I was able to attend myself… but the chatter on all the other instructors was great too!

The three classes I presented went pretty well (at least according to the feedback so far… ) and I have to say I have never had so much fun “teaching” as I did in my “Not another Butterfly” class!  All my role-playing “children” were absolutely fantastic and the “mothers” and “friends” were priceless!!  I will never forget the “Three Year Old” and the “Five Year Old”… you guys were simply amazing. 

I was laughing so much I have no idea how I still managed to paint the designs in a reasonable time.  The designs were all in the 2 minute range with the exception of the “Three Year Old” the “Twelve Year Old” with the cell phone and friends, and the special request but all were UNDER seven minutes which is a good average for a face painter.

"Not Another Butterfly" Group Photo

"Not Another Butterfly" Group Photo

I actually think I pulled something laughing at the “Three Year Old”… it still hurts.

I enjoyed the jams and hope that my “lessons” helped the beginners who asked for them… and that the monsters in the tiles don’t get them (careful Sandra… there’s a clown behind you!!!)

The first jam I painted my hand with a crocodile which I like a lot…

Feed me!!!

Feed me!!!

I tried to be strong in the Vendor’s room… I got a few books and a couple of cakes… (after dropping a few hundred at the Kryolan store in S.F. there was no room for more!)

Kudos to Judy Luthy and her family and the team she put together… there were some kinks, a few fires, but it was overall a wonderful learning and educational event.  I’m sure she would welcome any constructive suggestions for the next one.

There are some extremely talented “newbies” out there… some just blew us away with their ability.  I’m sure we’ll be seeing them again quite soon!

I loved the Moroccan dinner a large group of us went to on Tuesday night.  Truly amazing belly dance performances from some of the instructors and participants… There is VIDEO you guys… I hope it doesn’t surface…   🙂

I have one photo of Arla Albers belly dancing… bidding begins at $20….

I really enjoyed the food and the whole experience… I hope a “cultural” dinner becomes an annual part of the event.

I really enjoyed the flowers of San Jose… and took a lot of photos.

Flowers of San Jose

Flowers of San Jose

Just more inspiration!!

Twink dropped me off at the airport this morning.  Thank you for taking care of me!!  I would perish if I had to drive there… it is scary!

I want to say that I found Living Canvas to be a great convention – it was small and personal, great instructors and a fun group of attendees.  I came away with more inspiration and useful information from this one event than I have picked up at any other single event.  I have always learned something at every event I’ve ever attended, but this one… well, there is so much I want to incorporate into my work and get down in my design book that I’ll be sketching for weeks!!

Thanks to Judy for getting together a group of talented and inspiring instructors, and for discovering some wonderful new talents!

So… what are next year’s dates??


5 thoughts on “home from living canvas

  1. AHA!! That explains everything………I think

  2. I really appreciate you sharing your wipes with me to erase my peeps and roadkill goldfish… but $2.50?! Hey… do you know what I charge for private lessons??? 🙂

    I found a clown in my bathroom at home… I think it is stalking me too.

    I’d love to stay in touch… you must let me know if Wynona remembers you…

    • Um, really? Do you honestly think she’d forget me? Well ok, she probably would if I didn’t sit 10 feet from her and have my WYN<3NNA license plate waving in the air! She remembered it from last Christmas. We did have a tender moment though. Because of the week I've been having in my personal life, one song just brought me to tears. She walked over, stood in front of me and "mouthed" "are you ok?" Then winked and blew me kiss….. I love her….sigh.
      The concert was great, as usual. When I get a NEW computer (the ex destroyed mine before he moved out last Saturday) I'll send you pics.

      So, I guess you're right, you DID teach me how to make a butterfly! I'll let the wipes slide this time. 😉 And no, I don't know how much you charge for private lessons….. I'm scared to ask! I'm just gonna leave that alone and appreciate everything I learned. And what do you mean roadkill goldfish? At least yours looked like fish.. I still don't see a fish in that mess I made. I need to dig a little deeper into my imagination I guess. Candy corn is all I see…….

      Hey, do you have facebook….. I ask everyone. I love it!


      • I am not on Facebook… no time for it. And too many people I don’t want to find me… since I left MI5 I’ve been in the witness protection program, no really…

  3. Wow! You had a busy week! I would’ve been satisfied after the banana split! And kudos to you for for carrying that backpack around even after it ditched you for economy plus….it must have been difficult putting up with it’s attitude the rest of the trip!
    I do want to thank you for taking the time to give STEP BY STEP instructions to the new kid. I need very hands on, point A to point B type examples and you tolerated my obnoxious questioning like a champ… I could hardly tell that you thought I was nuts!! Great poker face! =)
    I left the event with an even stronger desire to pursue this dream that’s been eating away at me for over 10 years now. My confidence in my abilities has always been extremely low, but watching you do amazing work one minute THEN take a class, screw up roses and turn flames into “peeps” just reminded me that everyone is a newbie at something at one point or another. One step at a time I guess…. I can’t be great the 1st day out. And yeah, I guess they WILL pay for THAT!
    I was and always will be extremely honored that I got to buddy-up with you in class, “attempt” to learn side by side with you and make my very 1st butterfly with your help! I’m sad it all ended so fast. There is so much more I want to learn. At home I will practice every chance I get and when I don’t feel like it, I will use your peacock feathers to motivate me. (they are taped to wall next to my computer.) Also, I need to invest in baby wipes, I have a feeling, if the other day is any indication, I’ll be using a whole lot of them! (oh, by the way, you owe me $2.50 for your share!) 😉
    Shannon, you made the experience so much more valuable to me. Thank you. I wish I got the chance to say good bye before I left that day. I stopped to talk to someone for a sec, then turned around and you were gone. And honestly, I didn’t want to be remembered as the crazy lady stalking Shannon Fennell through the hotel…. although it wouldn’t have surprised anyone! I’m glad you had a great trip and enjoyed California. I hope to see you at other events or Living canvas next year. But in the mean time I’d love to stay in touch… I’m sure I’ll get excited about mastering the tear drop and have to send you pictures of it! Until then, I’ll keep searching for monsters in the tiles and bunnies in the clouds……..


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