Shannon Fennell's Blog

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

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Busy Busy busy

Started art classes this week – would you believe “Beginner Drawing”?!

It was the only drawing class at the Arts Centre so I signed up and hoped for the best.   Luckily it is a serious drawing class with a real artist/instructor.

The first class was all 30 second gesture drawings of some pots… over and over, then a 5 minute version of the same.

Amy is taking the extra hours sitting with mom – said she’s fine with coming back after a dinner break for a couple of hours.

I did get a few applications for the casual part-time position from nursing students and will interview them as I still need someone for weekends to sit with mom when I am on jobs and at rehearsals.

Next weekend is getting booked so solid I’m hoping to have time to feed and water mom occasionally!  Amy is going to sit with her Saturday morning and Sunday afternoon while I’m out at bookings, but once I’m taking appointments in the house there won’t be anyone upstairs with her.  She did survive the day of the body painting back in September but that wasn’t a paying customer.

Tonight I booked a couple more appointments for the 30th – a glittery flashy design to go with a butterfly costume, and full on latex burns on face/arms/hands… as well the rest of the bookings already confirmed.

I am fully expecting the guys that I’ve painted the last two years to call at the last-minute, AGAIN… they’ve called me the night before AND on the day of in the past… I fit them in as once I get going people just come and go and I just keep painting!

I block 30 minutes per, so usually have ample time to fit in the walk-ins as long as they don’t mind waiting until I finish the booked people.

And I start training for the new job on Monday – have to learn three or four different computer packages/systems, and I suppose about petroleum, gas, diesel, oil, etc.

And I think I need to take WHMIS again before moving over there.  I just re-certified on First Aid in September.

I’m booked for a boudoir photo shoot on Nov 6.  A groups of friends are having photos done and I’m confirmed to do the make-up for at least two of them (who are willing to pay my rate) – possibly the others will decide at the last minute to get done too.  It happens all the time at weddings.

First read-through for the Panto is on Nov 7th and the rehearsals are generally Sundays, Tuesday and Thursdays until Boxing Day.  I have a copy of the script but they’ve added a bunch more characters so I don’t think there is much point in starting to learn my whole six lines because they’ve probably been re-written!

Tomorrow is my last day off until… um.. I guess November 11th which is Remembrance Day.

And what a day off it will be… have to change the beds, do almost two weeks worth of laundry, vacuum floors and furniture, dust, get the hose outside disconnected and drained for winter, get my studio arranged for the Halloween weekend bookings, get some paperwork/contracts done and sent out, clean the tub (have to rip up the mat and clean under it … ick), I still haven’t unpacked from the show which closed last weekend – have to wash the brushes/capes/towels, and was thinking of pre-making some dinners for the week so they are easy to heat and serve.

And there is a pile of clean laundry sitting in my bedroom – I didn’t hang or fold it so it is all really wrinkled… and I don’t iron… hmmm, what to do, what to do…


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New job (day-job that is!)

Well… today at work at the day-job I was asked if I would take another position.  The job I am currently at is a one-year term (mat leave) which is already 4 months gone and the job I was offered is permanent.  The current gal gave two-weeks notice today and the General Manager and Controller asked me together if I would be interested in it.

So…. I accepted it.  As of Monday I will be training on all the computer systems at my current office, and then the next week I will be training with the gal who is in the job currently before she leaves.

I’m not even sure what the job title is!!  But it is at the bulk plant which is a card-lock and gas bar with a store and I would be the inside staff person.  It is open 7-5 Monday to Friday so no problem with weekend conflicts.  My hours will be 9-5ish which will work for my theatre commitments too.

So… now I don’t have to think/worry about what I was going to do after the term was up! 

Oh… and I get to wear a uniform.  I like uniforms…

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Something I’ve been noticing is that mom’s vocabulary has changed since her stroke.  She always spoke well and used words correctly, but since the stroke she’s been using strange formal phrasing and multi syllable terms that aren’t common.

Like today for instance… She says to me as I am wheeling her to the bathroom “It has been precipitating”… Took me a couple of seconds to understand she was saying “Its raining.”

And she’s using phrases like “It was not my intention, I assure you.”

I know with strokes aphasia is common but that is not what is happening – mom is not using incorrect words, she’s using archaic, formal and uncommon words correctly and in long phrases and sentences in a spontaneous manner.

Just find it really curious.

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Costume quest

I have been cast as “F. E. (Fairly Enlightened) Godmother” again  – this will be my third time playing her – in the Christmas Panto.  I really want a new costume (I always put together my own because… well, let’s say that I am too fussy as I want a costume that FITS ME and actually is flattering and leave it at that shall we!?)

This is me the last time I was “Effie” – I wore my belly dancing costume:

So today mom and I hit the two big Halloween costume shops in town – Value Village and San Fransisco.

VV had the PERFECT thing… in SMALL!!!!!!!!!!  It was in browns, coppers, golds – called “The Baroness” – a 17th century style with the bodice and full skirt, sleeves… really nice.  I asked and was told that was the ONLY one of that design they got and they would not be getting in anymore.

Then I found a wedding dress in the clothing section that was even more perfect… tried it on… TOTAL CRAP!!!  It was just a couple of inches too small around – the zipper wouldn’t go up past my waist… it would have been perfect.

I could have bought it and then had alterations done I suppose – it was $79.  It was long-sleeved, with cut outs at the throat and back, the top was completely beaded, the skirt was full with a train, with beadwork, weighed a ton.  Alterations would probably be over $100…. now if it was for a wedding I might spend the money, but for costume for a play that I really should not be spending my own money on, well….

I still may go back for it… Have to sleep on it.

I had all these gags that popped into mind that I could work into the play if I was wearing a wedding gown… I get to ad lib and interact with the audience so I can make-up my own material. Well, to a certain extent because the director seems to want me to stick to the script for some reason.

SF has a whole large store completely dedicated to Halloween… nothing BUT Halloween… and NO LARGE SIZES!  I asked after looking in vain for anything my size.  How on earth can you buy for a store for Halloween and NOT stock larger sizes????  Makes no sense in North America.

Actually, as I sit here the more I think I should go back tomorrow and pick-up that wedding dress… I could embellish the edges of the cutouts, cuffs and hem with coloured gems to match my wings… hmm

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My latest Body Painting

Well… I did not win the competition (congrats to the winner!  hope to see photos soon of the winning entry) but here are photos of the body painting I did for the UK Face & Body Painting Photo competition.

The theme was “Over the Rainbow” and not wanting to go the obvious route I did a little research and found an Iroquois legend:

The Legend of Rainbow Path

Legends state that the Iroquois people believed that the sky was a land of its own, a lush and bountiful terrain where animal and man thrived. They viewed the Sun and the Moon as man and wife, a married couple who descended to the earth through an aperture in the sky and returned back through another hole to a better land at night.

Heng, the Thunder God, grew angry at the Sun as he viewed the Moon growing thinner and thinner and finally fading away. He believed that the Sun was mistreating his beautiful bride and so cast a giant black cloud across the shining face of the Sun. The heat from the Sun’s face melted the cloud, the result being a beautiful, big rainbow.

When the animals saw the glorious rainbow and all its colors, they thought it a bridge to the land in the sky. They went to their king, Old Turtle, and pleaded with him to let them ascend the path. Old Turtle warned them of the possible danger in doing this however the animals in their excitement ignored him. They didn’t realize that once the rain stopped the rainbow would disappear and they would be left in the sky with no way down.

The Iroquois legends claimed the gods outlined the animals’ bodies in stars and some of our constellations are still known for the animal shapes they represent.

All of these photos I took myself on my Sony Cybershot – unfortunately the mohawk in her hair doesn’t really show except in the one shot which we were goofing around for…

First is a full front view

Then some detail shots of the rainbow – the rainbow was done in Snazaroo Sparkles for those who care about those things…they worked really REALLY well for that. 

The animals are running up the rainbow to the sky.  And then the constellations – on the back are Leo (the Lion) and Cygnus (the Swan).

Detail of the Sun – doing this reminded me that placement of the elements of a design are really important, particularly if the purpose is for photography… the camera can only get a two-dimensional shot that doesn’t capture the curve around the leg aspect!

Here is an angle on her feet – a waterfall and mountains.

Here is the only shot I got that shows off the mohawk – silly pose and expression, but also shows the detail on the chest which is Ursa Major (the Big Bear) whose tail is the Big Dipper.

Linda, my model, is a co-worker at my day job and was a great model.  It was a very long day – she arrived around 11:30 a.m. and left around 8:30 p.m. after the photographer finished. 

I did her hair first, then painted her… then we waited for the photographer to arrive which is when I took my photos.  I wish I had thought to take some against a different background – all I would have had to do was hang a light coloured sheet on the black backdrop, then all the hair work would have shown.

I was VERY happy with the painting – it turned out much as I planned and better in some aspects.  The animals running up the rainbow were decided at the last-minute – I’d printed off dozens of different animals running from Google images and only chose which animals to use once I had the rainbow painted.

The rainbow, as I mentioned, is done in Snazaroo Sparkle colours which are very nice, the sky blue is Fardel, the sun, moon and clouds are Fardel, the black is Tim Gratton Body Paint, the white detail work is Wolfe, and there is a bit of other stuff in there too, on the feet mainly (the greens and blues etc. in the small scenes.)

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Easy Latex special effects

With Zombie season upon us I though this might prove useful to people – just change the colours to change the look as the technique applies to many different character applications!


I am writing these for the face painters out there! I’ve used face paints and easily available materials but will note in brackets alternative products (if you are able to find a source in your area!)


Materials needed:

Red paint – I use Snazaroo in my demonstration (theatrical make-up – “Burn Wheel”.)

Black paint – as noted above

Tissue/kleenex/toilet paper – single ply only so separate the ply of doubles, and tear the edges to fit your “burn.”

Liquid Latex – I used Mehron Liquid Latex and Duo eyelash adhesive in the demo.

Gel – I used yellowish hair gel which makes for a very wet and gooey effect (also vaseline, gelatin, and professional gels for make-up effects, stage blood, etc.) NOTE: If you want the effect to be long lasting you will need to find a product that will set – the hair gel stays very wet! 

Sponges – normal cosmetic wedges, torn up for dabbing on latex

A sharp tool or scissors – to tear/rip the effect at the end.


Decide how big and where you want the burn. Apply the red base. Blend the edges well into the skin so you don’t have hard lines between the skin colour and the red – you can use a little pink too if you want. Let the paint dry (or powder if using theatrical make-up).

Put the gel, vaseline, gelatin or whatever you are using on top of the dried red paint – DON’T smudge, just apply it lightly so as not to disturb the face paint base as you are applying wet on top of dry! Apply just to the middle or in a blister shape within the red patch – do not go to the edge!

Now lay a single layer of your torn tissue over the gel – you need to totally cover the gel, and have the edge of the tissue in contact with the skin, over the red paint.

Now, using the torn sponge and liquid latex, seal the edges of the tissue down, dabbing the latex all around the tissue edges. Once you’ve got the edges sealed down, gently dab latex over the whole tissue, don’t be rough as you don’t want to rupture the “blister”… yet! Let the latex dry – it will dry clear. If using dark DUO it will stay a grey colour. Also, if you are using hair gel, the middle of the “blister” will not dry but stay quite wet… this is NOT a problem!

Once your latex is dry, or as dry as it is going to get, apply the black paint over the top with a sponge… be gentle over the “blister”. Don’t have your paint too wet, but don’t be afraid to put on a good coverage. DO NOT cover entirely with black… you want red edges, and part of the latex over the red to show as well – the wet look of the dried latex adds to the burned effect. Just cover the swollen part and the roughest part of the tissue with black.

When the black paint is as dry as it will get (again, if using hair gel, the “blister” part will stay quite wet) use a sharp tool to “puncture” the blister, or tear open the burn… this can get as gross as you want, depending where and how big you’ve make it!

Depending on how much goo you put under the latex, you may need to do a little touch up with red or black paint – sometimes the tissue still shows white underneath, just dab with a sponge or qtip and add more colour or “puss” as necessary! Ta Dah!


Materials Needed:

Cereal – Bran Flakes, Corn Flakes, etc. NOTE: Be as creative as you want and use all sorts of things.

Liquid Latex or Duo eyelash adhesive or other brand (NOTE: Feel free to use other adhesives! I just like latex, hmm… could be I have a rubber fetish!)

Food colouring – 3 drops of red, 1 drop of green, 1 drop of yellow


Put your cereal of choice into a container and mix with the food colouring until they are the colour you want – They don’t have to be totally soaked! Dump out onto a paper towel to soak up excess liquid, then remove from the paper towel (because they stick as they dry!) to finish drying (put on plate!)

If you want to make long scratch scabs, use a knife to cut them into small strips while they are still wet – it’s easier now than when they are hard!

To apply, simply put the latex where you want the scabs and apply the bloody cereal. You can overlap the cereal, break it up, etc. Dab a little latex over the edges, or the top to hold and seal in position. The latex will dry with a shiny look so if you want your scabs dry, you can just use it on the edges and underneath the cereal, or powder it when you are done to take away the shine.

I discovered that applying the cereal while it was still slightly damp and pliable worked wonderfully for making a really big scab as I was able to flatten the flakes into each other so it looked like on big continuous scab!

Add a little stage blood for the gooey effect!


Depending how crazy you went, the effects quite probably will just peel off, and you can then clean the area with make-up remover, soap and water, etc.

You can use any all purpose adhesive remover to get the latex off if it is sticking – I use alcohol (70% Isopropyl) on myself. Just soak a qtip with it and rub the edges of the latex, working the wet qtip underneath it and it will come off.



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Happy Oktoberfest

So.. roll out the barrel and let’s have a barrel of fun!  I enjoy a good polka but will pass on the beer as I have never developed a taste for it.

So another October is upon us… Thanksgiving, Halloween, harvest, autumn, snow and wind… Not necessarily in that order.  Around here parents design costumes to fit over top of snow suits!

I’ve been getting lots of inquiries for body painting and costume work for Halloween… unfortunately due to the time involved in doing the jobs I am limited to one or two per day.  And with most of the clubs having their parties on Saturday, October 30 everyone wants to get painted then.

I’ve had to turn down several body painting jobs… bummer.

Took a party booking for October 31 which will be fun – 30-odd six-year olds in costume to be painted for Trick or Treating!

Should hear in another week how my body painting did in the contest I submitted the photos to.  I was very happy with the design and how it turned out… just have to wait and see what others think.  I’m sorry I can’t see the other entrant’s photos though – I’m not sure I’ll ever see them as they are not usually published – just the winner generally.