Shannon Fennell's Blog

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


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Making a Serpopard

Bet you are asking… What’s a Serpopard?

I didn’t know myself until about a month ago.  I was getting a bit of a head start on my final 3D Studio project by googling “mythological creatures” as we had to do a large sculpture – had to be four-legged and a “real” creature from any culture’s mythology.

I was looking for something unusual that would fit the parameters and a Serpopard or Serppard image came up in a search.  I thought that was pretty interesting. The image has been found in Ancient Egyptian artifacts and in Mesopotamia of a big cat and snake combination creature – long snake neck and lion or leopard head and body, with some variations in design among the images found.

There were photos of the artifacts and other ancient depictions, and also quite a few artists’ renderings on Deviant Art and other places too.

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According to what I read, experts aren’t sure exactly what it was meant for – the representations are old and there is no explanation accompanying them, so it is guesswork about the purpose of the creature.

I did some sketches to figure out my version and roughed-out the structure of the armature. It was to be done using Sculpey which is a polymer clay that you bake in the oven.

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I used steel wire to make a basic structure then wrapped it with about an entire roll of aluminium foil to bulk it up and get the basic shape built. It needed to be pretty close to actual size and shape as you don’t want to have very thick and/or uneven coverage of the clay. Optimum is about 1/4 inch thick.

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I started to think about how to do the details – I wanted to make scales. I looked at photos of cobras (very Egyptian!) and their scales look just like sunflower seeds! So I bought a bag of sunflower seeds and sorted through the entire bag, I looked at EVERY seed, to find the perfect one.  Then I made a mold by pressing it into a disk of air-drying clay. All my scales would now be perfectly uniform and the proper profile.

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When I was ready to sculpt I started with the basic creature shape getting the profile right and building up muscle. Then I did the leopard head. For the ears, to make sure I didn’t break them off later, I used small bits of flexible metal mesh, made them the exact shape I wanted then covered with a thin layer of clay.

Then I carried on with attaching the scales, ONE AT A TIME. It looked awesome and just like cobra scales! I did the initial patch on the back… later I went back and added more to chest, and patches on the tail and neck.

I also wanted to build the Ancient Egyptian jewelry separately and attach it to the finished animal, so that it looked worn instead of a solid part of the sculpture. I went and bought coloured Sculpey – turquoise, red, gold, blue and black.

I used the flexible metal mesh to build the collar and head-dress – they needed the interior structure and had to support the weight of the clay. One piece of mesh cut and then folded and/or twisted into shape that was then covered with the gold clay very thinly. Then I rolled and cut all the teeny tiny rectangles in the coloured clay to inlay, and create the designs. Oy, I do like to make things difficult for myself! I also used real beads and one small lapis disc to make a scarab on the collar.

I was using King Tut’s mask as my inspiration so… I wanted to do the crown of the combined kingdoms which has the Vulture and the Cobra on it.  Teeny tiny little Vulture and Cobra heads, on the forehead of the Serpopard. So I twisted up some craft wire as they needed to be reinforced to prevent breaking off later, then covered and shaped them.  My hands are not designed to work on this small a scale! But, I think they turned out pretty cool!

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I had bought a board to use as a base for it, so I rolled out all my leftover gold clay, and enough of the flesh coloured to fill the board. It looks quite cool, like sand, so I left it as is and didn’t paint it.

I attached the jewelry and checked it over for flaws, mounted on the board and then into the oven to bake!

I spent about 3 hours building the armature at home, 11 hours plus on it at school, then brought it home again and spent 16 more hours on it which included the baking time. After it cooled (and I ate dinner) I started the painting. I did a double layer of white as a primer over the creature’s body, and then mixed up a cat body colour base and a base colour for the scales and applied them. That was all I managed before heading to bed.

I had to take it back to school and finish the painting there, and handed it in after spending almost 4 more hours doing the final painting. It was graded (don’t know what I got yet) and I did the paperwork to enter it in the end of year Juried Art Show, and left it with the instructor.

I’m really REALLY pleased with how it turned out and I put it in the show marked For Sale.

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End of term is looming

Hard to believe that my first semester at college is over next Friday. It really went by fast!

I’ve only two works in progress left, everything else has been completed and/or already handed in and marked.

I completed my film editing yesterday for my Fundamentals of Video/Audio Production final project, and submitted it. We will view them in class on Monday, and be given a final quiz.  I will share it on my Facebook page once it has “premiered” in class! I am hoping for laughs… oh god, please be funny.

I finished all my Sociology course assignments ahead of time and it has all been marked, so I am just attending the last couple of classes to get the “participation” marks.

I’ve got everything finished for Digital Drawing. Final project is complete, printed and ready to present next Friday – this Friday I’ll be twiddling my thumbs, I guess, as I have it all done and the class was to be a work period. I will probably spend some time using Photoshop on work from my other classes and tweaking some images.

In 3D Studio Practice we are doing our final large sculpture and have 10 hours of class left to work on it. I am well ahead on my build and will start on fine details tomorrow. We are working in polymer clay so have to bake it when done, and then paint it, to have ready for the last Friday for marks. Last week we handed in our recycled book project and are waiting for the grades to be posted.

This was my “Exquisite Corpse” small sculpture – it is 4.5″ tall, for 3D Studio. It was drawn in three parts, by three different people who didn’t know what the others drew. I had to sculpt it by interpreting the drawing – it had to stand on its own. Luckily mine was pretty easy, lots of students ended up with mermaid tails or tentacles!

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This was also for 3D Studio – a relief mask sculpture of another student. This was done in an air-drying clay.

This is the one Taylor did of me…

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We traded – no point in keeping one of someone else!

We handed in our Portfolios today in Presentations & Portfolio Techniques, and our final project is due next Tuesday – a detailed drawing of footwear. I’m about 1/4 of the way on mine so will be working on it over the weekend.

In Presentation & Portfolio I did these two drawings for Projects 1 & 2. The first is a vulture wearing a gas mask – I altered the image (took out lettering) after marking. And the second was to draw our own hand holding something – I call it “I miss the Rain”(let me know if you get the reference!) These were both done in liners and water-colours.

We had to do hand studies before starting the hand… I really like the little red pinky finger! I did it all in pencil crayon (three colours) and I think I might finally be getting the hang of it.

We had our last class of Drawing II (Figurative) yesterday. I am sad about that, it was so much fun.

These are a few of my more recent sketches from Figure Drawing. The first is a two-minute sketch, the colour one is 20 minutes, and the group is of 30 second drawings.

I did this landscape while sitting in the hall between classes – was working on erosion and trying different colours in pencil crayons (still working on my technique with them.) My favourite is the big ridge in the back, I think I nailed that one.

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I am in the process of looking for a summer job – I’m able to apply for full-time summer jobs at the college and so far have four interviews out of ten applications (three were already filled, three I haven’t heard back from.) That makes me hopeful. I’m still applying for pretty much everything that I see as I need to work!

I’ll be back to school in September to finish my second semester of the program I am in, which is actually the first semester of the program. I was a January intake so I did semester two first so I’ll be with a new batch of students in the Fall.

I am really thrilled that I have been able to go back to school to study art! And, being mature, I value the opportunity and haven’t missed a class or assignment! Those marks are really important – I could get a scholarship to help with the costs to go on to more advanced arts education!

 

 


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Midterm Marks are in… Mom would have been proud.

I am really enjoying my art courses at college and am doing really well! Midterm marks were released this past week and I have five A+ and one A-. My overall average is 94%. My sister wants to know what happened to the other 6%. Um, well…

There are only six more weeks to go in the semester and there are a lot of projects required for final marks. In one class the current project is worth 50% of the entire grade and takes up the rest of the course. My Sociology class final research paper is worth 25% of the final grade. And the four other courses have major projects that are a bit less of the overall marks, but still need to be done well.

I completed one final project today – a presentation for my Figure Drawing course, so I don’t get jammed at the end. They are all due in April, so getting a head start is important.

Time management is a big deal and luckily I am pretty good at it.

Here are some gesture drawings from my Figure Drawing class with live models.

I find I can do these very quickly, and the 10 minute drawings are about as long as it takes. When we have 20 minutes or longer I get fussy and overwork things. All a learning process. Last week we worked on foreshortening. That is challenging.

In my 3D Studio class I am working on a small sculpture – an “exquisite corpse” which is something designed by three people – I drew the head, then it got passed around the class with two other people drawing the middle, and the legs. No one saw what the others drew. We had to build the armature for it, and then fill in with wire mesh and aluminium foil, so that the clay is a very thin covering. I actually got lucky with my end design, some of the others have real challenges to make their sculptures stand in a stable manner, which is one of the main goals of this project.

We have two more big projects after this in 3D Studio.  I really enjoy this class and will miss it. Once I start taking the Fabrication classes in semesters three through six, I can get back into building!

In our Presentation & Portfolio class our final project is to produce a portfolio – I’ve got to PROPERLY photograph the work I want to include. I probably have more to chose from than a lot of the students, but… some of the work I no longer actually have and the photos aren’t suitable. So… will have to pick things that are able to be done properly, and that were created within the last year. The fact that I have to do the photography is challenging. The instructor said something about “booking the studio”… I’m going to try to rig up something at home and see how it works.

For my Digital Drawing class we are supposed to have an online “sketchbook” of all the work done from rough ideas to finished piece – it isn’t necessary to post until the end of the semester for the instructor to review. I am really not a digital person and the work I have so far produced is basic. I did get a good grade but it was very stressful for me.

This was the Landscape I created for one assignment in Digital Drawing. I did it in Paint 3D. I was mid-pack as far as finished printed copy for class critique. I am hampered in that I started this program on the second semester, so don’t have the courses in digital programs that were taught in the first semester – I’ll be taking those in September.

Fennell Landscape

But, I got through it so far. Next project I should not have an issue with as it is not necessary to be digitized!

 

 

 


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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.”

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

January

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.)

February

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.

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March

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

April

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!)

May

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)

June

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

July

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.

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August

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.

September

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.

November

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.

December

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.

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

 2016

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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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.

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