Shannon Fennell's Blog

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

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Taking a walk along Lake Ontario’s shore

I finally remembered to take my camera when Brian and I went for a walk down to the lake. It is Lake Ontario and we live a couple blocks from the shore.

It is really beautiful here; neighbourhood is lovely with brick homes and lots of mature trees, and wildlife – like squirrels, chipmunks, raccoons, opossums, deer, etc. We have to keep the garbage locked in big bins to stop the raccoons from making messes.

It was an overcast day but very nice for March. We went right onto the beach.

To the left (which is west) is the Pickering Nuclear Plant… I posted about that HERE. What I find interesting is that right beside a nuclear power plant there is a giant wind turbine.

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It is usually pretty breezy so the wind turbines would be a nice replacement for the nuclear but it is probably a real estate issue.

Brian wasn’t terribly impressed with the water part.


I was trying to get a nice shot of him looking out over the lake.  So up on the ridge I hooked his leash on a tree… this was the best I could get. But it does show how fluffy he is!

Lake Ontario is the 13th largest lake in the world by area. The state of New York is across it – I haven’t been able to see it though, opposite shore is too far away.

The park along the lake shore is fantastic, paved trails, woods, grassed areas with parking and pavilions, picnic areas, play areas.  It is well-used and well maintained.


As you can see there is no snow as we’ve had an unseasonably warm spell. Overnight we got a small amount but that has pretty much disappeared and the temperatures are staying above zero for the daytime highs for the next while. Plants are starting to show!


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I missed posting in February! Oops.

I try to post a minimum of once a month, or more, but it looks like I missed February 2018 entirely!  Sorry!

In my defense I’ve been pretty busy with school and other appointments. But I usually do find the time. So March 1st will have to suffice.

I am enjoying college a lot! So far my marks are pretty damn good. Nothing lower than an A at this point. One instructor hasn’t posted any grades yet, and that is the class I have the least confidence in, so hopefully it doesn’t come in too low.

I got 100% on my Sociology mid-term paper which was great – it was titled “A Sociological Analysis of an Advertisement Demonstrating Cultural Imperialism.” I like a buffer for when I miss something on the weekly quizzes. This is a general education course I had to choose, the one I actually wanted to take wasn’t available when I chose my timetable. But it is interesting so I’m good with it. But for the rest of the program I am going to go for easier general courses – maybe online options that I can rip through and be done with.

We are going on a field trip to the Art Gallery of Ontario next week which I am looking forward to as I haven’t been there yet.

3D Art is a great course – planning, designing and building things with different media. The first project was constructing a 3D Map of an imaginary province. I got 100% on mine. It was 20 cm x 22 cm and all of them fit together to make a “country”.

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“Crateria – a seismically active, uninhabited region with craters and lava lakes.”


Mine arranged with others from our class – there are many more now added from other classes.

The other projects so far have been building a 3D cube out of foam core and a 12″ rolling “ball” using cardboard and negative space without any glue or adhesives – had to fit together dry. Next project we start sculpting with clay.

In the Presentations & Portfolio course we’ve had to tattoo a banana and do an illustration using a hyperbole.

Fennell S Banana 2

I was wondering why this was required… still not sure.


And… The dog ate my homework.  No, REALLY!

The hyperbole illustration was fun, I really like how my drawing turned out. The first is my final submission. The second was one I was playing around with. I prefer realistic work so went with the more natural look to my vulture. Designing a gas mask for a vulture was an interesting exercise. Our finished work was photographed in the studio so we should be getting a portfolio quality image eventually. I just took these on my desk so they aren’t completely flat.



Figure drawing is really enjoyable! We’ve now had both female and male models, and also worked on hands and feet. Hands are hard!

Fundamentals of Audio/Video Production is a challenge for me but so far I am getting excellent marks. I am working hard to get through the assignments and learn the software we have to use. It is getting easier, but more features are being presented at each stage so I have to keep figuring out the next level. I can see where my weaknesses are so that is a good thing – so I know where to concentrate on the next project. I posted my first project on my Facebook page if you want to check it out at Shannon Fennell Art.  It was a short video/slide show of my work with music and sound effects added.

I’m just about at the halfway point for this semester. Last day of classes is April 27th. Then have the summer off and back in September. I’m looking for part-time work that could be full-time for the summer months, then back to part-time in the fall. I’ve also reached out and put my name in to volunteer at two places which both responded positively, which is great.

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I’m officially a starving art student… well, not really starving but…

Classes started on Monday for my first semester studying Art & Design. A full-time student for the first time since 1984!

My first class Monday morning was Figure Drawing which I really enjoyed. I actually impressed myself – it has been a very long time since I did the fast sketching/gesture drawings. Our instructor posed for one 10 minute drawing, then put up photos for the rest of the time.  I ended up with seven drawings which I am keeping to compare progress.  Starting next week we will have live models.  That will be a first for me.  We can use whatever medium we wish too.  I used pencils and charcoal this time – I like the charcoal.  I may try pastels next week.


My afternoon class was Fundamentals of Digital Audio Visual Production.  On a Mac – I’ve never used a Mac, or any Apple product for that matter.  On top of that, the program we have to use is Adobe Premier Pro… teeny tiny white text on black background that doesn’t seem to be able to be sized to be legible.  I was completely lost.

I went and introduced myself to the instructor before class started (I’m the only January intake in my timetable group) and explained I have no idea about any of this topic.  He was very nice and helpful, and he tried to adjust the font size/magnification but in that program it wouldn’t work. I couldn’t see the monitor at all well and the lag time to focus on the overhead screen, then back to the desktop with my glasses which weren’t strong enough to help with the exceptionally tiny font… very frustrating and actually painful to my eyes.  I have an eye appointment next week – probably for another injection which might help.

I’m checking out the college services for “accommodation” for this vision/computer issue.  Hopefully there is someway they can help with that. I can go into the computer lab to go over things when there is available space and another student suggested I sit with them and they can help me with it, which is sweet.

Today’s class was Presentation and Portfolio Techniques. Which looks like lots of fun – much of what is being covered has to do with marketing and promotion which I do have experience in.  Will also be producing art and critiquing it to learn how to assess our own work. We had to brainstorm a specific idea, then create thumbnails to a set size/shape – homework is to complete the project and post photos… we have to carve the design on a banana.  Basically, this weekend I will be tattooing a banana with a design incorporating my name. Who knew fruit would come into it so soon? I’ll have to be careful – Brian likes bananas. Wonder if “the dog ate my homework” works in college?

Tomorrow is 3D Art & Design in the studio, and in the afternoon I have my general education elective of Introduction to Sociology.  Friday is Digital Drawing in the morning – and I fervently hope I don’t have the same issues with the computer screen – and the second class in 3D Art & Design (there are 5 hours a week total in the studio for that) in the afternoon.

Our supplies are included with our tuition! I was not aware of that so when I attended the program orientation last week I was stunned! We just had time to stash it all in our locker so on Monday I went in early to play, I mean, sort out, my supplies. I labelled it all and took home the small stuff to open and sort into containers. I have two lockers – I had rented a regular one online for myself, then at the program orientation last week we had to rent an art locker to hold our supplies and work. I kept the one I’d already rented and am glad I have it. It is where I stash my coat and non-art things. They are pretty close to each other and right next to the classrooms I will be in for five of my classes. So that’s convenient.


Everything is online – you have to check your email constantly, check for class updates, get the assignments online, submit the completed work online, communicate online… bleh. This is overload to a borderline Luddite. People keep referring to apps to download to use for class or projects, um… no? And ALL the other students have their phones in front if their faces all the time! Walking the halls is like fighting off zombies – they walk right into you and block the hallway in packs.

I’ve spent time each day roaming around, trying new routes to places, seeing if I can find shortcuts, etc. I can find the main Tim Horton’s that takes the Tim card (the other little ones don’t take it), the computer services area, the security desk and several washrooms. I know where all my classrooms are and today realized there is a more direct route into the complex I need to end up in than I’ve been taking (which was through another building, then a courtyard.)

So far I’ve been getting a decent parking spot. Today was in the extreme far corner but it was a short walk to the path I take through campus. I’ve also been taking different routes to drive there and home again.  I think I’ve got figured out – left, right, left, right and I’m there. It is a 30 minute drive but on good roads – with one roundabout!  There are several alternate routes if I need them too. Luckily the days are getting longer rapidly so it is fairly light out for the drives.

So far a good week!


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Saying bye-bye to 2017

2017 was a huge year for changes.  It also seems, now, like it was a very VERY long year as well.  So much went on for me that I actually have to look through my Daytimer to remember what happened back in the first six months!

I actually forgot I went to Morocco this Spring until I looked at my calendar!  I know I’m getting on but thought the memory was a bit better than that.

Major activities and events are noted – there was a lot more running around and many bookings but I’m just hitting the bigs things.


Had production meetings/tests for Spamalot; took a kiln-fused glass workshop; started a photography course; and auditioned for a play (didn’t get a part.)


Spamalot ran – did hair, make-up, props and the Lady of the Lakes costumes; finished the photography course (subsequently I sold my fancy camera – I prefer my little point and shoot); large crew face painting job for Family Day and continuing eye treatments.



Took a conflict resolution workshop and a managing change workshop through work; took an acting workshop at the theatre; did make-up for Wait Until Dark; got last vaccinations for trip to Morocco; left for Morocco on the 24th – rode a camel in the Sahara, amongst many other amazing things.

Camel Ride


Returned from Morocco on the 4th – was a fantastic trip that I blogged about so you can check out the details if you are interested; continuing eye treatments; multiple large crew face painting jobs; and asked at work to increase my hours from 25/week, was given time to think about it, then pressure later applied by my supervisor.  They asked me to work 35 hours a week without changing my classification to full-time, I countered that I would go to 30 as I wouldn’t do 35 without getting the full-time benefits (full-time work 35 hours!)


Had a photo shoot with MAJ Photography; attended NOOBCon as a vendor and demonstrator; attended an advanced Excel workshop through work; took another kiln-fused glass workshop; did the hair and make-up for Robin Hood and the Heroes of Sherwood Forest; started new hours/shift at work; and continuing eye treatments.

Maj Photography (25 of 37)


Took another kiln-fused glass workshop; auditioned for a show (didn’t get a part); large crew face painting job; and continuing eye treatments.


Large crew face painting jobs; continuing eye treatments; went on a cemetery tour in town; and took another kiln-fused glass workshop (I love it!). I was “terminated without cause” by my employer after being pressured into increasing my hours and after a good quarterly review – had to sign waiver to get the settlement offer of three months wages (lawyer said that was generous so take it.) When I told my sister about the termination she said I should move out to stay with them in Ajax… I thought about it for approximately 10 minutes.  Listed my house for sale.



Annual job at Grizfest over the long weekend, and also the Debolt Fair and Hythe Fair; continuing eye treatments – had a bad reaction and scare; started an accounting course at the college on the 14th (full-time for seven weeks); and many showings of my house.


Booked solid with a client for five days over the long weekend; continued the accounting program at the college and did the practicum; continuing eye treatments; accepted an offer on my house; farewell party for me at the theatre; continued liquidating belongings for the move as I was only taking what fit in my RAV4; and started packing and doing all the things you have to do when moving.  I started changing all my online listings etc. to reflect Ajax, Ontario and had bookings for Halloween right away. Sold my face painting physical assets and referred customers to one of my crew members to take over locally.

October – MOVING!

End of September/beginning of October was crazy busy getting things sorted for the move to Ajax, Ontario and the selling of the house. Car service, car detailing, lawyer’s appointments, making arrangements with various institutions, got a “smart” phone (ha!  hate it), advanced voting for City Council (didn’t want to miss that as a few friends were running!); left Grande Prairie on the morning October 7th to drive to Edmonton to meet my nephew who helped with the driving – we arrived in Ajax around 2 p.m. on October 11th.  Then I had all the running around to do once I got here: apply for my Ontario driver’s license and provincial health card; change my car and home insurance; make-up appointments throughout the month; and was booked to teach make-up/sfx at the Oshawa Public Libraries. Started applying for part-time jobs close to home. I traded in my 2012 RAV4 for a Lexus NX300h (that’s the hybrid.) I was actually intending to trade-in for a new RAV4 Hybrid but when I stopped in at Pickering Toyota the salesman I was passed to treated me as a “brainless woman” and had no interest in selling me one – said they didn’t have any, that if I was wanting one to save money on gas it wasn’t worth it, etc. He didn’t even ask my name to call me when they arrived! So my sister took me right over to “her” salesperson at Lexus that afternoon.  And the rest, as they say, is history.


Continued applying for part-time work.  Went to see Bat Out of Hell.  Went to the Royal Winter Fair.  Found a graphics company to design a new wrap for my Lexus. Got new personalized Ontario plates for the new wheels – ART ON U. Decided to go back to school to get a Fine Arts degree (eventually) – checked out the local offerings and went on a tour of Durham College. Applied to Durham College for the Foundations in Art & Design program.


On the 1st received an offer of a spot at Durham College for the January intake which I accepted; attended the first year student orientation; ordered a parking pass; got my timetable and student card. Went to see Bat Out of Hell… again! Vehicle wrap done.  Booked to teach next month at the Oshawa Public Libraries.

I still have to get good shots of the new car wrap – it is really cold right now and I can’t wash the wrap yet so the car is a bit dirty.


Also, I now seem to “have” a dog named Brian.


I am very excited about being a full-time student again… it has been a long time! I’ve got seven class blocks a week this semester. Am really looking forward to learning lots of new and interesting things in the new year.

And looking forward to the Transatlantic cruise I am going on in May!



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Think I’ve got a friend

My sister told me that when I moved to Ontario I would be given a Samoyed named Brian.  She claimed the Province of Ontario has a program that does this.  Oddly, she had a Samoyed named Brian – such a coincidence!

Brian is a rescue that they adopted over a year ago. He is around 10 years old. He is the low man in the “pack” here as Candis, their 2-year-old female Samoyed is the Alpha and Pod, a 2-year-old Rott/Shepherd cross is the Beta… so Brian gets his butt kicked a lot.

Since I got here he’s been my buddy. Once it got below freezing (to kill off the ticks) we started to go for walks everyday. He loves it and is very obedient on the leash and it is good for me too. He now expects that we are going to a walk every time I put on my coat or go into the laundry room as that is where we leave the house from.

Samoyeds have traits that other breeds don’t seem to. They back up… a lot. Both Brian and Candis. They’ll get your attention then back up across the entire room. Sometimes weaving their heads around. They also sleep in the exact same poses – on their backs, sometimes with their legs sticking straight up in the air.


That’s Brian above in his usual spot.


And the above is Candis on the left and Brian on the right doing their synchronized sleeping routine. The Russian judge gave them a 7.5.

Brian loves eggshells. He “guides” me to the kitchen in the morning to make breakfast and waits patiently for the eggs shells. The sound of crunching eggshells is a bit like fingernails on a chalkboard.

They are all on a RAW diet and it is amazing. Very little poop, they are really healthy and enjoy their food a lot.

Only thing is the hair… O.M.G! Brian has started to blow coat a bit – chunks of it come off, or hang off him. This is normal for the double coated breeds; I just thought it happened only in the Spring. My sister vacuums constantly – she loves her built-in vacuum system!

Brian likes to keep an eye on me when I am in the kitchen. This is the pose he prefers for this very important job.


He has started to come to me for rubbing and scratching, and also jumped up beside me on the sofa once (so far) but didn’t stay. I think he likes having his own person in the house. I’ve been warned to make sure to keep the position of control as the breed will take the dominant role if you don’t.

He’s a cool dog.



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I’m going back to school!

I am very excited to be starting college in January as a full-time student! A “freshman” … which is pretty funny at my age. I am expecting to be taken for 1) faculty or admin, 2) someone’s mother, or 3) someone’s grandmother, when I attend the First Year Orientation on Saturday.

Yesterday I got my timetable – had to wait until 3 p.m. on December 11 in order to sign-up on the internet and get it all confirmed.  The semester starts on January 22 and I have classes on Mondays (2), Tuesdays (1), Wednesdays (2) and Fridays (2).

Bought a parking pass last week which I will pick-up on Saturday. The college is about a half-hour drive from home in moving traffic.  Transit is approximately 1.5 hours each way… even though I get a free transit pass with my tuition, three hours on a bus carrying stuff isn’t my idea of fun in the winter!  My brother-in-law put it this way when I mentioned the cost of a parking pass vs. free transit pass… “Don’t be a moron.”

The program I am taking is called “Foundations in Art & Design” and is a one-year certificate, and I can then transfer directly into the Fine Arts – Advanced program at year two.

I’m starting from the beginning with the Fine Art education – I’m a lifetime artist but did not do any formal (accredited) training after high school. I’ve taken classes and workshops all my life in various media and techniques and never stopped making art in some way. This program covers things I need to know for the modern art world such as preparing a portfolio, digital drawing, audio & video production,  photography, as well as the usual drawing, painting, sculpting, etc.

I am fortunate to be in a position to be able to do this at this time of my life. When I graduated from high school I chose to go the route of a career that guaranteed a paying job – art wasn’t something you took to do that. I couldn’t see spending money on an art degree when it wouldn’t get me a job. I was very pragmatic but still ended up doing work I really enjoyed regardless.

People would tell me, when seeing my work as a kid and teen, you should go into graphic design, etc. But I knew I wouldn’t enjoy it – I had to be in the mood to produce good things. Over the years I’ve learned that practise makes perfect, or at least something I can be happy with, even if I am not completely in the mood.

I am really looking forward to the studio work – Figure Drawing and 3D Art & Design are this semester. The computer/digital work is going to be a bit of a challenge as I am borderline Luddite but I will give it the old college try!

This is a painting I did in September – I took a watercolour class at the Centre for Creative Arts a year or so back, and discovered I really enjoy it. This is “Ketchikan Sunset” and is from a photo my brother-in-law took on their Alaskan cruise.  I played around with figuring out how to make the sky work and am very proud of how it turned out.

Sept 4 17

I hope we will be covering watercolours in the studio work!





Guess who is going nuclear?

One of the more “interesting” things about moving to Ontario is the aspect of nuclear power.

Got this box in the mail today – addressed to the occupants at this address.


It was handed to me to open (all the mail with no specific name on it is mine apparently.)  Inside was this:


A pen (you might need one during the meltdown!), a fridge magnet and a booklet.  Does anyone else remember that comedy shortfilm by the National Film Board (at least I think it was) about a nuclear attack?  I remember lines about “extinguishing all smoking materials and get under the refrigerator” and “putting your head between your knees and kissing your ass goodbye”?

This was the inside cover of the box:


Not really sure how convenient this box would be… where would you stash it?  That drawer in the kitchen with all the other stuff? On top of the fridge that no one can see?  In the pile of “important papers” on the end of the counter that is now buried under the kids’ homework?

Just read that the pen is a flashlight too… and just about burned out my eyeballs!  That is bright!


Well… keep calm is a pretty standard step in an emergency.  Go inside, well… sure, wood frame homes will definitely keep out the radioactivity.  Radio, yep.  Maybe I could get in the car to listen to the radio?  That seems more pro-active – then I’ll be ready to evacuate.  And with my electric hybrid I won’t need to stop for gas!  Need to order those pills though.


Wonder if my thyroid medication would interact with the potassium iodide? Although, if they tell us to take the pills my low thyroid is probably not something I’d need to continue to worry about.


Hmm… 45 years without a serious accident at the Pickering plant which we are right next to.  I don’t know about you but… at 45 my knees were shot.

The red dot that I put on this next page is where we live… That’s about as close as you can get!


And no matter which way the wind blows… well, we are in the middle!

In Northern Alberta I just worried about the local mill catching fire (again) or a train derailment or a plane crash or snowmaggedon.  In town I was not close enough to oil production to worry about an explosion or gas leak.

Oh well… guess there are risks everywhere.  I may need to make myself an aluminum suit to go with my tin foil hat though.