Shannon Fennell's Blog

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

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Unicorns are very popular with little girls… and big girls too.  I’ve got a couple of versions that I do.

There is the ubiquitous cheek art rainbow unicorn and the brow unicorn.  My brow unicorn is really popular and very easy to do (it was published in FACE to FACE Issue #45.)

Here is a step-by-step:

Step 1:  Swipe on white with a sponge between the eyes and over the brow in one direction.  Using a brush (I used a round #6) paint the structure of the head in white.  I used Snazaroo white for the sponge and Wolfe white for the brushwork, but you can use any white you have.

Step 2: Continue with the brush and white to fill out the head shape and add some swirls down around the eye down onto the cheek for the mane.

Step 3: Sponge on a bit of colour to add some shading to the neck if you like.  This is purely optional.  Add a few swirls to the mane in the same colour.  I use a flat pink for this.

Step 4: In a contrasting colour (I used a Grimas teal) add some more mane swirls.

Step 5: Using a copper or gold metallic (in this example I used Kryolan Metallic Copper) create the unicorn horn and a few swirls in the mane.

Step 6:  Using a bright contrasting colour (I’ve used a Wolfe UV pink) add in more mane swirls.

Step 7: Using a small brush (I used a #2 round) outline and add detail to the unicorn’s head and some lines to the mane in black.

Step 8:  Using the small brush add some stars and dots in white and paint the lips in a coordinating colour.

I generally use colours from the subjects clothing for the mane’s colours… sometimes I ask them what their favourite colours are if there isn’t much to choose in the clothes. 

And of course, glitter is always optional!  I tend to use a holographic white aka aurora glitter for designs like this to add sparkle without detracting too much from the design.

You could do a bit more like adding colour to the eyelids too if you like.  The way I’ve done it here takes me a couple of minutes.  It is a good design for working fast despite the many colours used as swirls are really quick to do and there is minimal details required.

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Annual sunburn and mosquito feast

I worked a company BBQ today at a campground that was a 108km drive east of here.  Nice day for a drive once I got out of the smoke around town here… lots of wild fires burning in the north here so our weather forecast has been “Local Smoke” for the last couple of days.

Everything is green, with fields of golden dandelions… made me feel all poetic… I wandered lonely as a cloud amongst the dandelions and the fluffy floating cottonwood seeds…

Any hoo… practically no traffic at all, a little road work but it wasn’t full-scale so the speed limit was only lowered to 80 kmh.

What should have taken me 1 hour and 33 minutes only took 1 hour and 5 minutes to cover… so I was REAL early.  Instead of going to the campground I decided I’d go right into town to top up the gas tank, but when I got there realized they didn’t have the station I wanted to use… FULL SERVICE!!!

Turned around and went to the campground where the BBQ was being held – a little early but oh well.  The organizer greeted me right away after I got out of the RAV.  She showed me where I could set-up and where the porta-pottie was…

Kids started to hang around immediately so I gave them my book to look through while I set-up.

It was a steady gig… not too many kids and only a couple waiting at a time.  Painted some teens and adults too.

HOWEVER… it’s been damp.  The mosquitos were HUGE and annoying even though I sprayed down with bug spray before starting.  I’m sure I’ve been bitten.

I was set-up in one of those large marquee style tents with the clear plastic windows – my paints were in the sun and were getting quite soft and things were drying out quickly. 

I may also have managed to get burned… I say “may” as I’m not sure yet.  I generally can’t tell how bad until I shower.

On the drive home I saw several beavers busily building… dragging logs through their ponds to reinforce their dams.

So summer season has started now – the weather proves it.


Professional Zombie Photos

And no, the photographer wasn’t a zombie!

I have to say that Don is the fastest photographer I’ve ever worked with – he came and took photos of the zombies I created on Saturday and today he dropped off a CD of photos – cropped, edited, and sized – for me.  Amazing!  Considering I’m still waiting for photos from last September’s body painting shoot from another photographer.

So here are some of the shots… ALL PHOTOS BELOW BY DON ZWICKER, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED  – meaning, please do not copy or use without permission.

First up, a nice group shot of the girls…

Next we have the ungrateful wretches turning on me… Prom Queen left bites marks on my arm!

Next we have an entirely too happy Cheerleader Zombie ripping the head off the Doctor Zombie.

And here is Doctor Zombie getting ready to study up on her medical text…

And Chef Zombie prefers her brains baked so she was shoving the Prom Queen in the oven.

And another charming group shot.

And Prom Queen doing her Carrie impersonation… hey, who stole the bucket of blood??

Turns out the Cheerleader likes baked brains too!

If they’re done the head should crack open.

I really love the photos Don took.  There are about 70 odd more of them… but these ones I really like!

I am working with him on a project of his… which is going to be great fun and hopefully I’ll be able to share some more about it later this year.


Zombie Photo shoot

My main assistant, Naomi, is a great gal… always willing to model for me (she’s the model in this Zombie step-by-step), be part of the make-up crew at the theatre and work for me on multiple artist gigs.  And she’s gorgeous.

Anyway, every year for her birthday she and a group of girlfriends get done up to go pub crawling… They go all out and get costumes and props and all of them get totally into character.  They also do this for Halloween (they are the Barrel of Monkeys in this post from last Halloween and the Mardi Gras girls from the year before.) 

For Naomi’s birthday last year they went as old dirty cowboys

This year it is zombies!

Naomi had booked for six but two of the bailed on her so there were four of them, each a different character – Naomi was a zombie surgeon, Vanessa was a zombie cheerleader, Christine was a zombie prom queen (a la Carrie!) and Megan was a zombie chef.

It was a blast doing them up – all had some latex “skin” applied that I ripped up, blood, some make-up to suitably decay them and then blood splatter applied.

A photographer I’m working with phoned the other night about other things and I mentioned I was painting up some zombies tonight so he asked if he could come over to do a shoot.  The girls were willing.

So after the we were all finished with make-up and costuming he came over and we did about an hour photo shoot!  He’s going to send the photos to me.  He’s very good – he takes photos for the theatre regularly.

Some of the shots he arranged were a hoot! I can’t wait to see the one of the chef shoving the prom queen into the oven!  And the ones he took of me being eaten by all four of them!  🙂

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It is interesting when you focus on the eyes in a design… cropping photos to JUST the eyes really makes me think about how to create expression. 

Sometimes the eyes make the whole face work and give a “scary” design massive impact.  Sometimes the designs accentuate beautiful eyes.

When we look at people we tend to look at their eyes and lips first… have you noticed?

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I get asked to paint monkeys often enough that I’ve got a decent one I can paint very quickly.  A lot of painters say they panic when asked to paint a monkey which surprises me as they are very easy to paint.

I have one in my book Your Face or Mine that is very simple – here is a photo of the design (this photo isn’t in the book… he looks much happier in the book! 😉 )

There is no black or white used in this design at all.

I’ve created lots of monkeys in my time.  This one is a test I did for a parody film I worked on years ago… Convenience Store of the Apes… Squeegee Boy Ape… “get your hands off my car, you damn dirty ape!” 

Face painting them is a little less time-consuming I have to admit!

Here are some done for theatre – I’ve had to paint hundreds of them the last few years… there were monkeys in The Jungle Book and Dr. Doolittle, flying monkeys in the Wizard of Oz… monkeys everywhere!

I don’t think I painted these three – it was during The Jungle Book and I spent most of my time painting the main characters.  I did the test paints and took photos to go with the charts that my crew then followed.

I’m pretty sure I painted this one… Kelsey was hamming it up as usual.

This one is the test makeup from Dr. Doolittle.  And it is a Chimp.

Here are several of the chimps in shot from the show… along with the duck and the parrot (Polynesia, photo below), and Dr. Doolittle.

The Jungle Book monkeys are the kind found in India (like in Monkey Thieves on Oasis!) but Dr. Doolittle was in Africa so they are chimps instead.  The colours, you notice, are reversed – dark faces for the Indian monkeys and lighter coloured faces for the chimps.

Gorillas I haven’t had any call for … yet.

P.S.  The bathroom is FINISHED!!!! So… Jan 9th the damage discovered and insurance company contacted to May6th for final paint touch-ups.  I suppose that is better than a lot of people’s experiences with this type of thing.

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My other art

Haven’t had much in the way of face painting photos lately (I don’t take my camera on the job as I’m afraid of losing or damaging it) so I thought I’d show you some of my other art.

I haven’t actually done too much lately…

Me, Mom, LD and Neil watching the Leonides Meteor Shower

In  November 2001 we had a spectacular appearance of the Leonides Meteor Shower.  We all got up at 2 a.m. dressed for -34C and went out into the backyard to watch meteors fall through the Aurora Borealis!  Mom was sitting on a milk crate with LD bundled up inside her jacket.  The orange flames are the flares on oil rigs.

Mission San Juan Capistrano

In 1989 we won a trip to Disneyland from a radio station.  We went down to Anaheim for a week and took several day trips/tours.  One day we booked a tour down to San Diego to the Zoo/Sea World.  The rest stop on the trip down was at Mission San Juan Capistrano which thrilled mom to bits as she’d always heard about the swallows returning to San Juan Capistrano.  The fact that we had no idea we were stopping there added to the thrill.   I took lots of photos and painted this from one I took of the old fountain.

Scarlett Macaw

This painting started off as an art class oil painting, it actually didn’t get finished for years… I hadn’t finished the head… Neil (my late brother) would harass me about the blind parrot so eventually I got out my acrylics and finished it.  Then when I went to get it framed they had this awesome bamboo frame stock!!  Reminded me of the Tiki Room at Disneyland and was perfect for a parrot!

Bunny and Val (half-sisters)

These are pencil and ink drawings I did in 1983 of two of our foals – the one on the left is Bar F Major Breakthru aka “Bunny” because of her ears, and the one on the right is Bar F Denmark’s Valentine (she was born… oh go ahead and guess!!) aka “Val”.  Their sire was our stallion “Barney” and both moms were American Saddlebreds.  Bunny’s mom was named Lucky R Supreme Majorette aka “Major,” and Val’s was named Denmark Top Choice aka “Denny” (yeah, I know her name sounds like dog food but on the registration papers it gets really messy!)

So that’s just some of the other stuff I have done.  Don’t get a lot of time anymore to spend on creating things for just my personal satisfaction, now it is for specific themes and purposes.

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Not fun

I mentioned in an earlier post that I injured my shoulder/rotator cuff… hurt it at work on March 23… I am now in considerable constant pain.  Appears the muscle that runs down the back of my bicep is torn or something.

The doctor has ordered an MRI (the hospital phoned to say that they will phone sometime this month to provide the appointment time) and I’m supposed to go for Physio too, but the clinic couldn’t even fit me in for an “assessment appointment” until May 17.  And, the doctor also ordered massage therapy but the clinic’s massage therapist is on mat leave so they don’t have one.

Welcome to health care in Grande Prairie.

To top it off I don’t get paid for the time I’m away from work for all these appointments, but I can’t blow them off as it is WCB.  I called WCB about it and they do have a form for missed wages due to appointments so I can put them through.

Last Saturday I did my first multi-hour face painting gig since the injury… OMG that hurt.  Up till then it was bearable, but holding up my left arm for hours to steady kids’ heads while I painted them was not the right thing to do. 

Since then I’ve been in constant pain.  Then, lifting mom, lifting her wheelchair in and out of the car, and generally just doing anything, really hurts.  I had to make mom’s bed this evening and I was practically crying from the pain.

I have had to alter how I drive as I can’t stretch out my arm to turn the wheel to make a right turn, I have to feed the wheel to my right hand.  Luckily it is doable – just a different style of driving.

Today was rough at work too… I ended up on a phone call with a co-worker and had to shuffle through a file while talking to her, I was trying to hold the phone on my left shoulder while using my hands… not a good idea.

I have some a prescription for NSAIDs which work but if I take them steady I get real cranky – and I mean bitch on wheels cranky – which I don’t want to do.  So I’m trying to get by on Tylenol for body aches.

Sleep is difficult as there is no position that the arm doesn’t ache in.  The doctor said to use ice or heat but not sure how to apply it as it isn’t an easy spot.  And frankly, I don’t have time to sit and try to ice it… have to help mom, get the housework done, etc.

Oh well… hopefully it will stop hurting soon.