Shannon Fennell's Blog

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


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This could be my final post… from Canada

My visa was approved for the UK and my flight is booked for August 22nd, so if I keep to my first of the month posting schedule my September post will be made from Plymouth, England!

If you squint you can see my new home in this photo of Devonport, and the Naval Base which is right behind it.

I might post again sooner… I’ve got a lot of time on my hands for the next three weeks. I’ll be reviewing my moving checklists and doing up new ones: mainly address changes, but also figuring out the phone thing (need to find out what the costs will be to keep the Canadian number active), and cancelling things here. Then a list for when I get there – top three are pick-up my identity/work card, open a bank account and get a local phone.

I donated most (95+%) of my art and craft supplies which cleared out my room substantially. I’ve taken four trolley loads to the thrift store to donate, sold some items to a pawn shop (gold jewelry – I didn’t know you could get that much for random bits of gold,) and sold some things privately. I don’t want to keep packing things around that I never wear so I cleared out things I never use, or won’t use again from drawers and bins. And am trying to sell some items online (which is the most frustrating and aggravating thing I have EVER done!)

I’ve stopped getting rid of or posting anything else for now as I still need to be comfortable in my room for the next three weeks. So my bookcase, shelf, table and chair, lamps, etc. will stay put until the last week when I start to pack for real. I have to hold onto my printer to the last possible minute – I have to print off my 72 hour PCR test results to carry with me, and my test is Friday morning, my flight is Sunday night… they guarantee them within 48 hours. So not sure what I’ll be doing about the printer.

Now I’m just puttering, sorting out things for packing purposes – wrapping fragile things up, sorting the art supplies I am keeping which I reduced to two scrapbook cases (not including paper), going through documents I still need to keep accessible for dealing with in the move.

I had thought I would have to mail/ship some stuff over due to lack of room in my luggage, but I think I am going to have more than enough room. I’ll know more definitely once I start practise packing. This is going to be a lot different than packing for a trip! I always would pack, then spend two weeks removing things because I knew I wouldn’t need them or get around to wearing everything I packed to start with. This time, I have to pack everything!

I will probably end up trying to sell, or donate, one of my carry-on suitcases as I have two that size. If I need to check a third bag, one of them will be used for that. But if I don’t need to have a third checked bag, then I won’t need it at all. I have two “free” checked bags (my two brand new huge suitcases – which were on sale for $109, original price was $450 each which I would never have paid, my god,) the third checked bag I would have to pay $225, so ideally, I hope I won’t need it. I will be working towards NOT needing it.

My new suitcases – biggest I’ve ever had.

Had my last eye treatment with my doctor here a week ago. Little bit of excitement this time with the injection – I could NOT see out of that eye immediately after the shot. Total grey-out like solid frosted glass. She immediately “fixed it” – by ANOTHER needle in the eye to remove some fluid. Instant vision return. Wow. I’ve completely lost count of the number of injections I’ve had over the last five years and this has never happened before, but it was immediately resolved. I see her again in a couple weeks for a consult before I leave, to get a letter and forms from her to give my new specialist in the UK. She checked to see if there was time for me to have another treatment before I left but there isn’t, so I hope I can get on with a new ophthalmologist ASAP once I get over there.

I’m concerned with the increasing number of cases in England, and the fact that they opened up even with numbers climbing. But… I really can’t change or delay my plans at this point. My lease is up here August 27, I’m off my school health insurance as of August 31, the move has been planned/delayed since 2015 (first delay was because I was diagnosed T2 diabetic and my eyes needed treatment – couldn’t leave my 100% medical coverage at that point), then I was attending school here. I need to get back on my timeline for getting on with my life. I plan a lot of travelling but that’s going to have to wait until the virus retreats or is being controlled. And getting a degree done has been deferred as I want the full in-person learning experience, no more of this online stuff.

I’ve no intention of giving up masks or hand-sanitizer for quite some time! I’ve ordered more of the antimicrobial TrioMed surgical masks. They started selling boxes of 50 to the public so I ordered a couple. Shipping to the UK would be ridiculous, if they even would ship, so I stocked up. They don’t weigh anything to pack with me, and have a five year shelf life – the pandemic will have retreated by then… right?


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Double vaxed at last

On Tuesday I got my second dose! My original second appointment was for August 6th, but lots of supply has been arriving and the Delta variant is gaining ground so the provincial government started opening it up. As of this past weekend everyone can book. I was automatically notified of my rescheduled appointment by the clinic I had my first one at.

The challenge for many is getting booked through the online system, which isn’t necessarily easy. There are pop-up clinics in hot spots too. On Sunday June 27th the City of Toronto and Scotiabank Centre (where the Maple Leafs and Raptors play at home) held a clinic all-day and vaccinated 26,771 people! A new world record for the most vaccinations in one day. The previous record was 17,001 in Texas in April.

I am glad my appointment was at 8 a.m.; it was already 24C and I was walking there. I don’t like heat. When I got home before 9, it was up to 26C and I was pretty uncomfortable. Thank god for A/C. I really feel horrible for everyone out west getting hit with the record breaking heat wave – the city I moved here from is in the mid-high 40s right now. I am so glad I’m not out there.

It was really busy at the clinic too. They’ve got the drive-thru option going with two lanes, and inside the rink was packed (socially distant, of course). Way busier than when I went for my first shot. But it was moving very fast. I was in line inside by 7:57, shot in the arm by 8:04, then had to wait 30 minutes (historically I’ve had a vaccine reaction), and was home by 8:45.

I remembered to take my little sketch book with me this time, so the 30 minutes went by in a blink while I was sketching some ideas for a commission.

And the only reaction I had was a sore upper arm around the injection site, again, same as the first shot. So that was great.

There are lots more doses in the pipeline so it looks pretty good for most Canadians to be fully vaxed by the end of summer, which is awesome. I will, however, be continuing to wear a mask for quite some time. I like not catching colds and having a reduced allergy response to pollen! Plus, no sunburned nose.

My plans for heading abroad are moving along – visa applied for, flight booked, notice given to landlord, selling/donating/disposing of stuff, bought two huge suitcases and fully vaxed! Now I just have to wait and hold my breath… and hope for no delays.

I finally stopped working on my thesis project “Anthropocene of the Crime.” I got the additional paintings I decided to do finished, and did end up doing just one more to make it a nice round total of 60 threatened species.

Giant Armadillo (listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List) the last painting, species #60

We did our live virtual show and artist’s talk with the Robert McLaughlin Gallery on Zoom on June 14th… still waiting for a link from them to share with everyone, once they have it up on their website. This is the link to the live presentation invite that quotes our professor and the featured art is my project: http://rmg.on.ca/events/emerging-visions-artist-talks/ I’m hoping they’ll post the recording soon.

The project is still up in the studio for now. We are supposed to hear from BMO 1st Art around July 9th on the results of their judging. Then I’ll be taking it down and, if I happened to be the chosen Ontario artist I’ll have to mount it all on a sheet of plywood to be transported to their show, if not (most likely) I’ll just retrieve my paintings and scrap the rest. Some of the paintings have been spoken for and there are some I want to keep.

My project blog, which covers all the species I’ve painted and explains my project, is at https://anthropoceneofthecrime.wordpress.com

The final and complete crime investigation board of “Anthropocene of the Crime”

Received my credentials in the mail yesterday. I have to say I was underwhelmed. I was expecting the college to include some swag at least, not just a cardboard mailer with the diploma inside. I’ve seen what other schools have sent their grads and was expecting there would be something. They didn’t even include what normally is given out at convocation in a normal year.

They saved massively on the budget for convocation for two years now, and they also kept charging us ancillary fees for services and facilities that were NOT available during lockdown – so why couldn’t they have at least provided a decorative folder for the diplomas?

It truly is, literally, just a bloody expensive piece of paper.


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Day 447 (of the Pandemic)

Another month gone and we’re getting close to summer now – just three weeks until it is official.

The last 14+ months have seemed like both the longest AND the shortest of my life. Time has dragged out something awful, but also things have happened and gone by so quickly.

My timeline for moving abroad is now less than three months – 87 days precisely. That is the date my lease here is up, so that is the date I’ve been aiming for as a departure date. However, now that it has been announced by the Provincial government that our second vaccinations are being moved up due to lots of supply, I may be able to go sooner! My current appointment is August 6th, but if I can get one in July I could leave at the beginning of August instead of the end.

There are a lot of things that have to be done in a specific order, and then all the rest of the details that one has to take care of when moving, and moving internationally takes it to a more intense level.

I’ve continued to paint more threatened species to add into my thesis project. I ended up installing my display in our studio on campus and finished it for photographs on the 13th of May. After that I decided to keep painting. I’m enjoying the process and it is keeping me occupied going over to the studio to work on them.

This is my thesis project, which I call “Anthropocene of the Crime.” In this there are 43 paintings of 45 different species that are under threat. Along with information, articles and papers on the threats to the species’ survival, suspects, and lots of string.

I have completed another eight paintings, and have six more in progress, that I am going to add into this before we do our “Live Virtual Show & Artists’ Talk” for the Robert McLaughlin Gallery on June 14th. Most are smaller – ten are 3×4 inches, with four 5×7 inches – and will fit in where there are openings in the existing layout. With those included there will be a total of 57 paintings of 59 different species… I feel like I need to do one more to make it an even 60.

When I was mounting it and putting in the map pins, I suddenly realized that I had somehow missed including any South American species! Oops. So I did three the next day to add in before photographing, and I’ve also added another species in the batch I’m currently painting.

I shot a video explaining the project and what is on the crime investigation board in detail and posted it to YouTube. Here’s the link Antropocene of the Crime – it is just under nine minutes. I wasn’t sure how it would work, as I was holding my camera and talking without planning a script, but it turned out well enough that I’m willing to share it.

I am working on a dedicated blog to accompany my project – as we aren’t having a public display it loses impact completely. In the blog I will have each painting posted with information about the species on their own page, with links and other information. It actually will provide a lot more in-depth detail than just examining the physical display in person, and show off each painting individually. There are a year’s worth of paintings in this project!

The blog is called “Anthropocene of the Crime” (of course) and once I’ve got the last batch of paintings finished and the photos added to the blog, it will be ready to go live. It will be available no later than June 14th when we do our virtual show, but I’ll put it up as soon as I’ve got it ready.

The current batch I’m working on. The eight on the left side are finished, and the rest tomorrow maybe.

I am planning to create note card sets with all the paintings and possibly prints and other items. So I’ve scanned them all as I’ve been finishing them. That’s a summer project, along with a low carb cookbook/e-book a friend is insisting I put together. I scanned all my recipes and once I’m done with this whole thesis project, I’ll start working on that.


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Time for another Low Carb Cookie recipe!

This time I think I’ve figured out how to get them to NOT crumble (but I’m not sure exactly what it is that actually worked!) I haven’t stored them yet, but so far so good. And they are YUMMY. They have a texture that reminds me of a Digestive biscuit and even sort of taste like I remember them tasting (it has been awhile though, so my memory might be wrong.)

*UPDATE* They’ve been stored in an airtight container all week and still have the great snap to them, stayed firm and are not the slightest bit crumbly. I am so happy and excited about that!

There are no sweeteners or gluten in this recipe so these cookies will be good for Keto, Low Carb and Diabetic diets/eating styles.

HAZELNUT & ALMOND COOKIES

I got 30 cookies out of this recipe, of roughly 1×2 inches each. Your results may vary.

325F for 12-15 minutes (until golden brown around the edges.)

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup of softened butter

1 large egg (room temperature preferred so the butter doesn’t seize up when you add it)

1 tsp pure vanilla extract (you can reduce this to half if you aren’t a fan of in-your-face vanilla flavour, or use almond extract, etc.) Use what you have, I always use pure as I fine the fake has an after taste.

1 cup of hazelnut flour/ground hazelnuts (or whatever they call it in your neck of the woods)

3/4 cup of almond flour/ground almonds (see above)

1 tsp of baking powder.

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Cream the butter in a medium bowl until until smooth. If you prefer you can use an electric mixer, but this mixes up easily by hand. I am all about not having a ton of stuff to wash after.
  2. Add the vanilla and beat until incorporated into the butter.
  3. Add the egg and beat until it is incorporated completely. You can beat the egg and vanilla together before adding if you prefer; but I just toss it in and beat the crap out of it in the bowl.
  4. Add in the dry ingredients – I added it in 1/3 cup at a time (that is the only size of measuring cup I seem to have! LOL) and mixed it in completely before adding more. I also sifted the baking powder, lumps are hard to get rid off if they get in there!
  5. Once all the dry ingredients are completely mixed in and the dough is pretty smooth looking, turn it all out onto a sheet of baking paper or plastic wrap, roll up in a log, wrap it, and put in the fridge for around half an hour, you just want it to firm up enough to cut uniformly, but not be hard. My log was around 1.5 to 2 inches in diameter, because that was what my parchment paper width allowed for. Adjust to suit yourself.
  6. Turn on your oven to preheat while the dough is in the fridge.
  7. Get the dough out and slice into 1/4″ slices (that’s something like 6-7 mm, I just checked) and put on a parchment covered cookie sheet. They can be pretty close together as they do not rise much. Mine are “squished” as the dough was still fairly soft, but did cut and hold the slice shape. This has no effect on the the taste or results so who cares if they aren’t round?
  8. Put in your preheated 325F oven on the centre rack for 12-15 minutes. Check at 12 minutes to see if they are nicely browning around the edges, if not, give it a couple more minutes. I like my nuts well toasted… so I want to see some colour on those cookies!

Check out my other food posts on my FOOD STUFF page.

I think I may try them with cheese – should be good! Nuts and cheese go great together – maybe some Philly or a nice Brie. Would probably be great drizzled or dipped in chocolate too! I will have to check.

*UPDATE* They were very good with the cheese!

*SECOND UPDATE* These really are great! They held their “snap” and stayed crisp to the bite for most of the week (i.e. how long it took me to eat them) stored in an airtight container in the cupboard


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Day 416 (of the Pandemic)

And so it continues. We are back in a hard lockdown here because of record numbers of cases with the third wave of Covid, full ICUs, younger people dying very quickly from the variants… and a slow vaccination rollout.

I was able to get my first Pfizer vaccine on April 16 – I was really emotional about it. I had to wait 30 minutes after it and while I was sitting there I starting crying. Combination of relief and letting go of some of the fear I think. Also was the biggest group of people I’d seen in over a year.

School finished on April 16th – my three-year Diploma is complete. I am still working on my Thesis project in anticipation of our grad show, however, that may not be happening at the gallery – we don’t know yet. The lockdowns have caused the public galleries all sorts of issues so we don’t really know what will be happening. Our prof has called an online meeting with everyone for Monday. I still need to get mine assembled and photographed in the next week or so to submit to the BMO 1st Art! Competition.

Very happy with my marks again. This semester I received 100%, 100%, 99%, 97% and 93%. The 93% was 3D Printing which stressed me out a lot, so I am very pleased and relieved about that. Another 5.0 GPA – so for four of my seven semesters I had a 5.0, that makes my average GPA 4.98.

The two lowest grades I had were in my first year: 86% in Photography and 87% in Digital Drawing. I did not know any of the programs that people were using for Digital Drawing as I’d never done any (had zero interest in it and that has not changed.) I was pretty lost and, as we were told to “use what you know,” I ended up using the Windows photo editor, Paint, Word and Excel. It wasn’t fun but I managed to do the projects, but I wasn’t happy with any of them.

Photography was challenging due to my sight and hand problems – I can’t see the manual camera controls without my prescription and even then it is still difficult; and I can’t see the subject with my glasses on. I also can’t hold the camera and manipulate controls at the same time as I have grip problems. Was so frustrating. I would take 400-600 photos for each assignment and wouldn’t know if I had anything useable until I got them on the computer. I would just randomly change settings without knowing what they were until I could check the metadata and hope I’d used the right ones! By fluke I nailed a couple of the assignments and got really high marks, which made up for the duds. LOL Very frustrating as I can take pretty good photos… on AUTO SETTING!

When our final grades posted I copied and sent my transcript off to the schools that I have conditional offers from for finishing my degree. IT/Sligo, the Irish school, immediately sent a new unconditional offer letter.

With the state of the pandemic I am waiting to make a decision on my offers – I do not want to continue with online learning. While I did well, I did not enjoy it, nor do I feel I learned as much as I could have with in-person instruction and the interaction with other students. As a international student the tuition and fees will be very high (for instance, at my current school they are six times more than domestic students pay.) I want the in-person, hands-on, social interaction aspect to be there; it is a huge expense and I want the most I can get out of it. I will leave it as late as I can to make that decision, and hope that if I do decide to go that I can still find private living arrangements! If not, I will defer for a year.

It seems that most schools are anticipating a “blended” delivery model – some in-person and some remote. But things are in such a state of flux. Part of the issue is that the 18-24 age groups are not being targeted for vaccination in most places yet. Seems that the schools are looking at the number of people vaccinated on campus as the marker for how much they can open back-up.

I’ve got extensive lists of things I need to do preparing to move overseas, but there is an order that they have to be done in and getting the process going involves making the decision about which school’s offer to accept or defer for a year. I’ve got just over a month before processes have to start – visa applications, finding accommodations, making deposits… some things can be on pretty short notice (like booking flights… right now super easy) but others it can be a couple of months.

Here are some of the 41 paintings of 43 threatened species that are part of my final Thesis project. This part of the work is done, and now I start on the actual physical construction and assembly.

I’m really pleased with how these have all turned out. Of course I have my favourites, and there are one or two that I may actually not use in the final display as they didn’t translate as I had hoped. But I am happy with this body of work.


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Sesame Cookies – Low Carb

It has been almost a year (11 months!) since I shared one of my recipes. I was in a baking mood this morning so I made a chocolate cake and cookies as I was completely out of “treats” in the freezer.

This recipe is, as is usual with me, based very loosely on one I found online. I was looking for low carb or keto cookies. I found a vegan chocolate chip keto recipe – but I’m not vegan and don’t use sweeteners so I just used it as a starting point so I knew measurements and proportions.

Full disclosure… my first batch wasn’t optimal. I added in some almond flour – which was a mistake. I ate them… but the texture was off. I still have that niggling doubt in the back of my brain that you can’t bake with just nut butters! I know better, but… I won’t do that again.

Low CarB Unsweetened Sesame Cookies

350F/12-15 minutes – makes 12-16 cookies

Ingredients

1 cup of Tahini (sesame paste/butter) – you could use cashew or almond butter too

1 large egg

2 tbsp of sesame seeds (raw or toasted – this is totally optional!)

1/2 tsp of pure vanilla (I like pure, use what you use)

1/4 tsp of baking soda

1/8 tsp of salt

Directions

  1. In a medium mixing bowl combine all of the ingredients and mix well. I usually start with the seeds and dry ingredients and stir to make sure the baking soda hasn’t any lumps, then add the rest and mix vigorously by hand. You could use a mixer – but this does not need it, it blends together very easily and quickly. Note that once the egg goes in, particularly if it is cold, the batter starts to clump up quickly.
  2. Stick the bowl in the fridge for around 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat your oven to 350F.
  4. Line a cookie sheet with baking parchment, and get the dough out of the fridge.
  5. Shape the dough into balls of approximately 1″ (2.5 cm), flatten in your hand and place on the cookie sheet. Note that they do not rise much so you don’t have to worry about spacing them out. Basically, treat them like old fashioned peanut butter cookies!
  6. Put on the centre rack in the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes. Keep an eye on them. It is hard to tell when they are starting to brown as they are brown! I find 12 minutes is a good time to pull the tray out and stare intently at them to see if there is any sign of darkening at the base. You do not want to over-bake. These are a dry cookie and over-baking is bad.
  7. DON’T TOUCH THE COOKIES! When the are hot they crumble!
  8. Once you take them out, let them sit for at least 10 minutes, then carefully remove to a cooling rack or, as I do, set on a paper towel to completely cool.
  9. Once cool they will stay together and you can store in an airtight container. I put mine in the fridge to keep, but they will be fine on the counter for a week or so – if they last that long. They will also freeze for ages.

Options

  • Once I rolled the dough balls in sesame seeds before baking (as in the photo below). I liked them that way BUT the seeds fell off all over the place. The lack of sugar means there is no “glue” to hold things like that on.
  • Another time I just pressed the bottom of the ball in the seeds, I liked that as they toasted on the bottom, but, again, a lot were falling off. Depends how worried you are about random sesame seeds dropping all over. That is why I now put some directly into the dough!
  • You can add things to this dough – high cacao content chocolate chips, other nuts, etc. I plan to do that… I want to use pecans, but didn’t have any on hand.
These were rolled in sesame seeds before baking. The other photos have the seeds in the dough.

This is a dry cookie, but good. Don’t try to make them bigger as I am pretty sure they will crumble when you bite them! This size holds together to be eaten without a mess! (p.s. this is a small cookie sheet!)

Today’s batch cooling before I took them off the tray. You can see how hard it is to tell if they are done in this shot.

If you like sesame you should like these. The lack of sweetness doesn’t register with me, but if you must use a sugar replacement 1/2 cup of a granulated version will work to make them a sweet cookie.

I hope you like them as much as I do. I know some people spit out stuff I like as there is no sugar, but think of them as a fat cracker and eat them with some cheese!


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21 Days and One Year (of the Pandemic)

How’s everyone holding up? I’m getting antsy to get vaccinated. My region is opening up appointments in five year increments (started at 80+ years), Monday they opened it up to 70+ years. So… based on the timing of the last increment, I hopefully can book by the end of the month! Fingers crossed.

Until I get that first shot I am in limbo mentally. I can’t start making firm arrangements or accept one of my offers for schools abroad, until I am pretty sure I CAN travel in September. I figure once I get that first one I should be good to go, literally.

I took part in an open day for the post-grad program at the Arts University of Bournemouth last week – watched a recorded presentation, then there was a live Q&A. They inferred things will be “hybrid” in the Fall (all going well) – they were talking it up as something they’d been planning pre-pandemic. I’m not completely keen. I know it is a Masters and self-directed, but I like more personal contact and being in a setting with other people. I am so over working in my room alone! The course leader did put me in touch with a student from the US who is there now so I could chat with them about their experience travelling to the UK in February and how the program is going.

I also submitted an application to the Government of Ireland – International Education Scholarship last week. IT Sligo sent me the application – I’ve an offer from them for the BA (Hons) Fine Art. This is a very prestigious scheme – they choose 60 international students from countries other than EU/EEA and award:

  • A €10,000 stipend for one year’s study
  • A full fee waiver of all tuition and other registration costs at the higher education institution

Would be amazing to get that – makes it very, very close to a full-ride! They have a very stringent criteria and would be a huge honour to be chosen! Won’t know what happens until after June 1st. So, I will just not think about it and carry on with getting things done!

My last official day of classes here is April 16! I will still be working in the studio after that on my thesis project as the show, according to the latest update, won’t be held until June. So our professor has said we have time to continue work. That is comforting – I would have been able to be ready earlier, but the extra time allows me to complete more individual paintings to include in the installation.

But I do have to make a submission by May 15th for the BMO 1st ART! 2021 art competition -I’ve been nominated for it and it is for my thesis project! So I need to have it ready to photograph the week prior.

The Annual All-Student Juried Show is opening this week – April 1 to April 28. I put three works in: one from last semester (mixed media,) one from Fall 2019 (a diptych acrylic paintings,) and one that was my own project in 2019 (not school.) I am hoping I can get over there to take some photos of my work hung up. They are currently open for limited occupancy. I wouldn’t go until classes are done, so hopefully they’ll still be open to the public then.

Here are some recent paintings I’ve completed for my Thesis project (since my last post) on Threatened Species: West African Slender Snouted Crocodile, Elkhorn/Staghorn/Pillar Corals, Island Oak, Gooty Tarantula, Little Brown Bat, Great Hammerhead Shark, and a Polar Bear.

Hammerhead Sharks are the strangest looking creatures!

These two paintings are still in progress – a Mexican Wolf and a couple of Gilbert’s Potoroos:

And this is a shot of all 34 paintings that are completed or in-progress right now! I’ve an additional 12 small canvases prepped and ready, if I decide I want 52 to be in my final installation. I’ll see how much progress I make over the next four sessions in the studio then decide.

Our weather is settling to the unsettled spring pattern… frost in the morning and t-shirts in the afternoon. But it is so nice to get out for a walk in the sun – which is warm when you are out of the wind but that isn’t very often!


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Year One (of the Pandemic)

Well folks, it’s been 365 days since the W.H.O. declared the Covid-19/Coronavirus a Pandemic.

How are you doing? I survived a probable case of it (sick for three months last Spring/Summer) with no noticeable lasting effects that we know of – other than taking months to get my energy back and lose the aches and pains; saw some specialists with no discoveries of anything new. So that’s all good.

Now I’m just waiting to be able to get the vaccine. Hopefully soon as I have plans!

Last week I received an email from the Arts University of Bournemouth, who had offered me a spot in their MA Fine Arts course, informing me that they had awarded me a £5,000 Global Bursary! Very, very cool.

I am thinking about possibly deferring my offers for school this Fall though. I’m worried about the pandemic and the variants, and as I have absolutely zero interest in doing any further education online or in hybrid models, I think it might be the best option to just put it on hold for now. While I am getting the grades I want, I am not enjoying it. Art is a hands-on activity for me, not digital, and I am so, so tired of being on the computer day-in and day-out. This is supposed to be fun and it really isn’t.

Here are a few of my latest smaller paintings for my Threatened Species thesis project. That is ticking along well now that I’ve been able to get back in the studio. These are still in progress, but I’m getting there! We prepped the wall in the studio so I can start arranging everything – 8’x4′ is a heck of a lot more space than I was seeing in my mind’s eye! But I’ll use it.

These are 5×7″, 4×12″ and 6×6″. I’ll be starting on 8×10″ canvases next – I’ve got ten prepared with the backgrounds. Also, I was given four more smaller canvases so I’ll be adding them into the collection too. We’ve only got six more weeks until the end of the semester!

I’m getting a bit confused about our year end shows but I think the Thesis show for graduating students will be in June, and the annual all-student juried show is actually before the end of semester – I believe we were told we have to submit for April 1st. Semester isn’t over until April 16th. We haven’t received the information in writing so that’s why I am confused. usually these all happen after the end of semester. We also don’t know for sure if they are live AND virtual OR all virtual.

As we did not have the annual all-student juried show last year, due to lock-down, we all have completed work to submit for it without rushing to get things finished from this semester.

I’m having a hard time with accepting that in only 36 days I will be finished my program here, and have graduated. Wow. Doesn’t seem that much time has passed. But… it has been a very weird past year.


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Day 355 (of the Pandemic)

We are coming up on the one year anniversary of the official Pandemic on March 11th. I don’t know how it has felt to you, but I feel like I have been living in this one room for about 20 years now.

The vaccine roll-out here is a mess with the slowdown in delivery of the vaccine, and general provincial government screwing around. Initially, I was in the group scheduled for April. Wednesday the government announced a new rollout plan and my group will be able to make appointments starting July 1 as long as the supply “stays steady.” Also it was announced that the local vaccination centre will be right across the street from me – that’s very convenient.

My plans were to be leaving the country for school at the end of August – but I think/assume that I will be required to be vaccinated and still require a negative test 72 hours prior, etc. Hopefully I’ll be able to have all required doses of the vaccine before then. Thing is that booking flights, giving notice on my unit, etc. all need to be done in advance. Hopefully things will have stabilized and I can do that and still be where I need to be when school starts.

Since my last blog post, I’ve received an offer for the MA Fine Art program at a University in the UK now, as well as the offer for a BA (Hons) in Ireland. I still haven’t heard anything from the school I had the interview with for their MA program in January. I received a package from the Irish school for the Government of Ireland – International Education Scholarships which I am going to be applying for. It is for non-EU international students and the government gives out sixty 10,000 Euro scholarships which the Irish schools match! So, pretty much ends up a full-ride scholarship. Definitely worth the work to apply for!

As of February 16th we were able to get back to the studio on-campus for one class. There are only two of us actually going in as everyone else is choosing to work at home, which works great. I managed to get quite a lot done. We also got permission to go in on another day as well – the two of us have to work in the studio and need to catch up.

Mid-term marks were posted on Tuesday and I’m happy: 91%, 97%, 98%, 100%, & 100%. The 91% was for Rapid Prototyping/3D Printing which I was terrified of… but I got a 95% on the assignment to create a hybrid creature. I struggled, cried, suffered painfully and had to take painkillers prophylactically just to manage a couple of hours at it at a time, but I did it. Here are the final results:

I can’t wait until this semester is over so I never, ever, have to do this again. We used SculptGL for this assignment – the prof had to use a program we could all access remotely due to lockdown, so something free and web-based was it.

And, also school related, I was notified by email that I am the recipient of a 2020 In-Course Scholarship for Academic Excellence for Fine Arts – Advanced! I’m very happy with that!

I’ve been working on updating my Facebook pages. I had two, but wanted to combine them. Facebook has a merge option for business pages and I’ve been trying, for a YEAR, to get them merged. You have to be the admin on both – check; they have to be the same location – check; they have to represent the same thing – this I worked on in order to get them aligned as one was initially for my make-up business and the other was fine art – but over the months I synchronized them, even changing the names so they matched and all details were identical. I repeatedly tried to merge and Facebook kept refusing, and as typical, there is no way to question or request a review or explanation from them. I deleted the one I didn’t want yesterday – I now get 14 days to change my mind Facebook tells me, then they will ask again if I want it gone forever.

I’ve methodically been adding content to the keeper page, on the one I deleted I’d been posting and encouraging my followers to like/follow the other page (many already did). I also had to go through all my social media, links, etc. to make sure all links and references were to the page that is still active. That’s a whole lotta work!

The goal is to streamline my online presence to make it easier for me to maintain and for people to find me. My Facebook page is now solely https://www.facebook.com/ShannonFennellArtist It is also on the side bar.


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Day 331 (of the Pandemic)

I just realized I didn’t post in January – I post monthly at a minimum, but time is weird now. I kept thinking “I need to post” the last couple of weeks, then… BAM, it was February. Oh well. It isn’t like there is a lot to post about at the moment! LOL

My final semester of this program started and we’re now a month in. Time is going by so quickly. We are 100% online right now as the Province is shutdown, but we were told by the Dean of our faculty that the studio classes will be allowed back into the studios after February 10th, when the lockdown is lifted. Hopefully this stays true, as I am hooped if I can’t work on my installation in the studio. There is absolutely no way I can finish it at home.

I have to take Rapid Prototyping/3D Printing this semester. I did not enrol in Fine Art to do 3D Printing (or Film & Audio Production, or Videography, or…) but I am stuck doing it. It hurts physically – I have arthritis and other things in my hands/wrists and having to use a mouse to that extent for that amount of time is exhausting me. It was suggested I try a tablet so the college loaned me one. Nope. Have to hold the button on the stylus down in order to use it – hurts worse than pressing the mouse buttons. So I have to take painkillers, then work in short spurts.

The first thing I “created,” which almost killed me, was an elephant. This was doing the class (video) learning exercise for intermediate tools. It took 11 hours! Given how much I suffered doing this (in tears a few time) it turned out pretty decent for a first attempt. Although, once this course is done I am NEVER doing this again.

The next thing is our second assignment, have to create a hybrid creature – research, sketches, make our own alpha brushes, and make it… Due in nine days. I’ve got my drawings done and reviewed, and made an alpha brush to use, and now have to make it. I’ve told the instructor NOT to print anything as I have absolutely no use for it and do not want them.

Other courses are ticking along pretty well. Mid-term marks will be posted three weeks from today!

I received an offer for the BA (Hons) Fine Art program (one year add-on for the degree) from a university in Ireland. I’ve until mid-April to accept to qualify for a reduced tuition (which is great as the exchange on Euros is currently $1.55). If I wait longer it goes up to the posted rate.

I had an online interview for a MA Fine Art program in the UK, but haven’t heard anything from them since. And the other school I applied to for their MA program hasn’t made contact other than to confirm my application (this school had pre-reviewed all my transcripts and portfolio BEFORE I applied.) The deadlines are in May I think, so I am early.

The vaccine rollouts have hit major delays with Pfizer stopping shipments, and other issues. This is frustrating as I am pretty sure I will need mine in order to travel in August/September. Initially I was supposed to be in the April-July group, but with the slowdown I have no idea if I will be able to get both shots required before leaving.