Shannon Fennell's Blog

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

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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”.

DSC05843 (2)

“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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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!




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30 Paintings in 30 Days

I decided to participate in a 30 Paintings in 30 Days challenge. Seemed like a great opportunity to practise my watercolour painting. A friend who is a professional artist in New Jersey put me onto it last week so I figured, why not?

30 Paintings In 30 Days Challenge is posted on a blog where you can “register” to participate if you want to be officially doing it. You post your daily art on the blog for each day by linking to your work. I’ve been posting to my Shannon Fennell Art Facebook page and linking to that.

Everyday in the month of September I will be posting a new painting.  Today is Day 7 – and I’ve managed to post all seven!  Yay!

As I am still learning watercolour techniques some paintings are more doodles where I play around with the paint trying things.  Others are turning out pretty cool!

I started to learn watercolour painting just over a year ago by taking a class at the Centre for Creative Art and loved it. Since then the classes haven’t been offered at a time I can attend so I have some books and use the internet to learn things. I’ve had spurts of painting and playing around with it but this is a good reason to make myself do something every day and get better at it.

For some of my paintings I have used alcohol markers to draw parts of the design then used the watercolours on top. I love that!

Here are my first seven paintings in order by day.

September 1st.

Sep 1 17

September 2nd.

Sep 2 17

September 3rd.

Sept 3 17

September 4th. “Ketchikan Sunset” from a photo by my brother-in-law taken on the cruise they were on  last week.

Sept 4 17

September 5th. “Coneflowers” inspired by a photo image by Chipabirdee Images by Marilyn Grubb.

Sept 5 17

September 6th.  “Moai”

Sept 6 17

And today, September 7th.

Sept 7 17

I have determined that some paints are much better than others – I picked up a palette of hard cakes which are very opaque and don’t make very good washes. The tubes of paint are much brighter and translucent. And I love that I can sit down and paint something without having to set-up an easel and make a mess to clean up, and it is a fast process as well.

I’m having fun!




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My Moroccan Adventure: Final Post

Morocco was a place I had always wanted to see.  I was looking through my high school yearbook and saw that I had said I would be in Morocco! So I decided I had better get on that so, if there is a 50 year reunion, I could say, “Yes, I went to Morocco.  Why? Didn’t you become Prime Minister?”

This was my second tour with Insight Vacations and I would go with them again. This tour covered pretty much everything about Morocco and we got to see the highlights, geography and many historic locations.  Our guide was knowledgeable, multilingual and very conscientious.  He also arranged extra things that weren’t part of the planned itinerary – like the camel ride and tour in Essaouira, which I REALLY appreciated as they turned out to be my personal favourites!

This tour was Insight Vacations Best of Morocco and this was the itinerary:

Tour Map Insight

There were a few things that could have used more attention: like assisting us in and out of the bus as that last step was difficult and most of us weren’t, ahem, spring chickens. But most of those things were minor compared to the overall trip.

I am a planner. Ahead of time I thought about what I wanted to buy myself while there and made a list. I wanted to get myself a tunic or kaftan, I wanted a ceramic tile to frame, I wanted a fossil and I wanted an ornament suitable for my Christmas tree.  I got all of those and a few more.  And I kept it all within my spending limit too!

Here are the purchases I planned for:

The blouse I bought at the hotel gift shop in Marrakech – my most expensive purchase at 1200 Dirham (about $250) but it is gorgeous and so finely made!  The tile was purchased at the ceramic cooperative we visited in Fes and I am going to have it framed to hang in my entry.  The little “fossil” dish is probably a fake – but it is still a souvenir from Erfoud! And the red tassel is, I think, a bookmark. I bought it at the airport in Casablanca when I was leaving – I had 57 dirham left that I wasn’t able to exchange (they only had Canadian $20s) it cost 56!  That will be my Christmas ornament.

The other items I bought:

A little stone camel to remember my camel ride!  A wooden bead and needlework bracelet that matches my blouse.  A ceramic bowl that I bought with the tile (it is microwave, dishwasher and oven safe.) And an original watercolour painting of the Dades Valley I found in a gallery in Essaouira.

I also bought this wooden box when we stopped at the Argon oil cooperative – it is very cool!  Spin the top and four compartments swing open.

When mom and I travelled she always would buy a wooden item – we have some sort of wood from most places we visited.  A mahogany trunk, inlaid wood boxes, urns, small carvings, Tiki idols, etc.  So this continues that tradition.

My biggest goal was to get photos of the exotic places and things of Morocco and I managed that to my great satisfaction!  I used my 15-year-old Sony Cybershot.  I carried the camera in my pocket all the time and snapped my shots quickly.  It also took some great photos through the bus windows while we were moving.  I can’t be bothered with “fancy” cameras.  I did have a bit of a scare though – the sand on the Sahara was blowing and got into the shutter mechanism.  I used the blow dryer in the bathroom to blow out any loose sand and played with the shutter a bit as it was sticking.  But it got back to normal after a bit, thank goodness!

Of all the photos I took I think these are my favourites:

My flights were booked at the time I booked the tour.  I requested special meals from the selection offered and not one… NOT ONE… of the six flights had the meals.  They didn’t even have a vegetarian option available.  On the way there I packed myself food (I’m used to not being able to eat the offered meals) but on the way back that wasn’t an easy option.  I did buy cheese and nuts at the airports.

On the way home I had to stay overnight in Amsterdam and was having issues with my ankle and leg, so I checked into upgrading when I got to the gate.  As they were overbooked in Economy it was less than half the usual price!  So I flew home First Class!

Look – a padded seat belt!  Did you know you get an entire overhead luggage compartment to yourself and can bring more luggage?  Still wasn’t able to eat most of the food offered at the meals but managed some fish, and I was able to eat the snacks, and the purser found a veggie tray for me!  And I had my cheese and nuts to supplement.

First class selfie

Somewhere over Canada… and the Calgary descent.

My Moroccan Adventure was a once in a lifetime experience!  I am so glad I had the opportunity to go and to see it.  It is a lovely country and people were very welcoming.

My next trip is booked for 2018! A Transatlantic Cruise.  Then… I think, Ireland the year after.


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My Moroccan Adventure: On the Road from Marrakech to Essaouira

We left Marrakech on April 1st on the way to Essaouira.  It wasn’t a long drive which was nice.

Our first rest stop was a cafe that had a beautiful garden and a very large shop full of large displays of local arts and crafts, fossils, etc.  Just the photo opportunity that I had been waiting for!  I hit the mother lode photo wise.

Display of glazed tangines (cooking pot) with a background of plants.


And some plain, unglazed, tangines.


Nice display of ceramics.  They had rooms full of ceramics.


The also had a massive collection of fossils, geodes and crystal clusters.  That first ammonite was huge and really striking.  If only I’d had the money to buy it!

They had lanterns and baskets too.  As well there were shoes and clothing, other typical “cheap” souvenir things, postcards, t-shirts, etc.

The garden display was also nice – I love bougainvillea and take photos of it when I see it. I wish I could grow it here but we are about eight climate zones away from ideal for it.

They had roses but obviously the end of the season.


The also had the largest geraniums I’d ever seen!  And prickly pear was pretty common – saw a lot of it being deliberately planted as a natural fence in the southern part of the country.

I think this one is my favourite photo from that stop.  I got so many, but this was how the place felt to me.


We then continued on … and the next stop was for…

Goats in Trees!

Goat Tree

Completely staged… the goats DO NOT climb the trees to eat.  They are trained to stand on little platforms, for four hours at a time. There were three trees along the highway. They were so still some people thought they were fake.  So I “baaaa-d” and a couple turned their heads.  You can see the platform below – woven out of tree branches so it blended into the tree pretty well.  But they do not do this voluntarily.

Goat Tree (2)

These were argon trees – where the nuts that argon oil comes from.  They were growing all over this area.

Argon trees

Our next stop was at an argon oil co-operative, all female (this was stressed repeatedly by our guide,) who produced argon oil.  They had a working display, samples, a store – we were given a tour and demonstration, then samples of both the cosmetic and edible versions of the oil.  Cosmetic is from the raw nuts, edible is from the roasted nuts.

The first lady is shelling the nuts – by hand with a rock.  And the second is grinding the roasted nuts by hand on a stone with a wooden handle.

They had some hibiscus blooming out front.


After that we continued on to Essaouira, with a stop overlooking the city.  It was very hazy so I didn’t bother with a photo of the city, but there was a pinto camel there! I’ve never seen a pinto camel before.

Pinto Camel

Next post will be my impressions of the tour overall, the hotels, food and other thoughts.