Shannon Fennell's Blog

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


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I’m not always a stubborn Luddite

I’ve been “working” on redesigning my website for a year at least, officially, longer if you count thinking about how I was going to do it. It was old fashioned, clunky, too much text – compared to what the norm is now.

I’ve had my site and domain for 15 years and in all that time had only done one complete overhaul. I had originally used my service provider’s “Page Builder” program, and then “Site Builder” which was a download from them, that I used on my computer, then uploaded to the net to publish.

As you can imaging (or saw if you had ever been to my website before yesterday) it was dated looking to say the least.

As I am now  concentrating more on fine art I was researching what artists’ sites look like.  Most of the ones that appealed to me were very clean with white backgrounds and minimal clutter. Successful artists know to keep it simple and focus on the art.

I was attempting to use the program I had been using but the templates, etc. weren’t really modern looking. So I had started with blank pages and manually inserting all the functionality. It was tedious.

I had some hiccups with my email accounts connected to my business page over a week back and in the process of trying to find how to fix it discovered that there were online website builders connected to my account already, that I have been paying for all along. Well, duh.

There you go. Easy peasy. So I spent some time on Monday sorting out photos to use on the new site, chose the templates I liked and got the initial site set up. Then yesterday went in and populated it. Then published it!

I’m pretty happy with it. I just can’t figure out how to get the WordPress icon added to the social media bar… the program didn’t have that icon on the options.

I’m continuing to tweak as I am catching little typos, or deciding to rearrange or add something else. I am going to keep it simple.

Check it out at www.shannonfennell.com

Website Screenshot

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Halloween is Coming – part three

Oh oh oh… Halloween is getting closer!!

I work at a few Halloween themed events annually – I do up the haunters and staff at the Muskoseepi Park Haunted House every year; face paint at the Rotary Stompin’ Scarecrow Festival (will be there on Oct 23rd!) and have painted at the GP Museum’s Haunted Hayride for the last several years.

It is always fun to match the costumes people are wearing!  It is my favourite thing to do –   whether it is a Princess or a Death Eater!  And I love a challenge.

Here are photos of make-up/face painting done over the years for different events and Halloween.

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MadScientist

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Sprites

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They can drive!!!

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Painted up for a night of clubbing!

I don’t always have an opportunity to take photos while I am working if it is busy, so it is nice when I can access those taken by the photographers from the newspaper or official event photographers.

 


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Productive downtime

I have been enjoying my “break.” Aside from a make-up test last Saturday for a show in April and a couple of clients for an appointment early this morning, I’ve been relaxing after a very busy fall and winter.

I’ve managed to get my laundry/utility room back in order after getting everything dried out after my flood on Feb 18th.  And the hall carpeting is completely dry now too.  Now I have to start getting all my kit, wigs, beards, etc. cleaned and put away – we just piled up everything from Les Mis in the corner of my studio.  I had to do a rush tidy-up last night for this morning’s appointment but they are regulars here so were understanding of the reason for the mess.

This is what they had done (they were adjudicating an innovation challenge for students):

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The collar on the Egyptian Queen is a big glitter tattoo that goes all around her neck.

I have been doing marketing and paperwork – got in touch with my repeat clients and confirmed dates, and got contracts and deposits back through to the end of the year.  Also getting my taxes ready to take to  my accountant as soon as I get all my receipts.

After not getting any Christmas candy making done due to being too busy, tired and then getting sick, I seem to have been hit with a baking bug!

A friend was looking for a Chocolate Fudge Torte with Chocolate Ganache icing.  He couldn’t find one anywhere so I baked one for him on Tuesday night – it was a four-hour process (make, bake, cool, chill, coat, chill again.)  I found a recipe online and it smelled divine while baking.  I heard it tasted awesome…

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Then this morning I was seeing pie references everywhere (today is Pie Day 3-14-15) so I made an apple pie which mom and I had for lunch with vanilla bean ice cream.

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Tomorrow morning I’m going to make scones and we will have a Cream Tea for brunch!  For those who don’t know what that is – fresh-baked scones, fresh whipped cream, jam and tea!  In England they have “double cream” and it is different from whipped cream but I’ll just whip the cream till thick, not fluffy.

I think the baking mood is because I am not so tired and have some energy.  Although, I haven’t seem to have found the energy to get cracking on the wig washing and kit cleaning yet.

Once we get to the end of March I will be busy again with theatre and bookings.  I really needed this break to get a chance to take care of household and business stuff, although I still need to vacuum.  Maybe next weekend.  It’s been so long since I used it I may not recognize it…

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Well, 2014, it’s been swell…

Let’s have a look at the major highlights in my world, of 2014:

January 2014

We had a massive amount of snow to deal with last winter – had to pay a guy to clear the roof, and it kept coming.

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I was hired to do some body painting for a couple of club servers for a theme night at their club – the theme was “Safari.”

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Private customers for Mardi Gras themed fundraisers too.

February 2014

The body painting continued with painting a statue for a play at GPLT, “The Shape of Things.”  It was a great gig as painting the same thing so many times usually doesn’t happen.  Each night was a little different.

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Also face painted at Family Day at Muskoseepi Park, and at the Timbits Jambouree.

March 2014

I took a henna workshop with Michelle Forrester of Fairie Girl Henna in Beaverlodge.  It was fun, but I won’t be adding it to my own business.

Was getting ready for “Macbeth” – I got to create the head for the final scene.

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And do the make-up and hair – I concentrated on the Witches and my crew handled the rest.

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April 2014

Macbeth wrapped up at the theatre and I was busy with Easter face painting and the Swan Festival.

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She’s crying because she wanted mustard on her hotdog.

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May 2014

At GPLT we were doing “The Wind in the Willows” so designs were created and painted for each performance.

Badger

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Mrs. Churchmouse

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Groundhog

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Also did some fashion make-up, contouring and age make-up for a disguise for private clients.

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June 2014

In June mom and I drove down to Calgary for a week to see Cher & Cyndi Lauper.  It was a nice trip, fairly straight line too.

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These two theme cars were at the dealership next to our hotel in Calgary.  I am partial to the Spider-car.

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July 2014

Painted some dinosaurs for the Canada Day Parade, then spent a lot of the month building a dinosaur myself.  Even booked a week off from the day-job to get it built.

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It was a long hot summer so the garden looked nice.

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Painted at Muskoseepi Park for Canada Day with a crew of ten.

August 2014

Finished building my Pachyrhinosaurus, and body painted for the Amber Ball.

Got my photo with Dan Aykroyd!

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And with Philip J. Currie!

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September 2014

Painted at the Wembley Demolition Derby. Then built a Tyrannosaurus Rex to match with my Pachyrhinosaurus for the Wearable Art Show at the Centre for Creative Arts.

They were left on display at the Centre for Creative Arts.

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October 2014

Ah, October… my favourite month.

This year I had back-to-back Frozen themed birthday parties.  I don’t mind the princesses but I never, ever, ever want to see that snowman again!

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And, of course, Halloween!

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Always fun!  This year my clients won three contests: Scariest Costume, Best Male Costume and Sexiest Costume.

I face painted at Muskoseepi Park’s Halloween Spooktacular, and the GP Museum’s Spooks and Stooks.

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November 2014

The weekend of the 9th our hot water tank flooded our basement – as of today, STILL waiting for the restoration company to show-up to assess the damages.

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Christmas party bookings started up and planning for upcoming shows.

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December 2014

Christmas parties, and more Christmas parties. And getting ready ourselves.

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And for the first time I will be face painting on New Year’s Eve down at the First Footings Celebration at Muskoseepi Park.

As usual there were lots of birthday parties and events booked throughout – by this time of year it is all a blur.  I enjoy all of them a great deal – I am very lucky to be able to do what I love do and get paid for it!

On the home front lots of frustration – we have had to replace mom’s full time aide repeatedly.  We are on full timer number six in 2014 right now.  Things are good so we hope this one will stay.  Our part timer is coming up on a year with us in January.

In the new year mom is having cataract surgery on both eyes and she hopes to be reading Stephen King to herself soon, again.

I’m planning to get a store set-up online to sell my e-book and other items – there is a learning curve so it may take a bit of time for me to figure it out.  I’ve got the site but need to populate it and figure out the processing side of it.

Happy New Year to everyone – all the best for 2015!

 


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My Annual Halloween Round-up

Another Halloween is over and done.  I am exhausted and so sore from standing and/or sitting for multiple hours over the last week.  This getting old thing really sucks.  Last night after a marathon 14 hours with only two 15 minute breaks, I had to take two Aleve and three Extra Strength Tylenol just to be able to sleep my legs and feet were so sore.

Then, after sleeping like the dead until the alarm went off this morning (as I had my first appointment at 8 a.m.), I awoke with my right arm completely numb… sigh… it isn’t completely back yet and it is after midnight now.

But enough about me… oh, wait… it is always about me.  Never-mind.

Here is a selection of work I’ve done over the last week or so for Halloween…

First, one of my regular customers – this year she won Scariest Costume at a local club!

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And next a selection of Sugar Skulls and Skulls… the most popular request this year.  Last year was Zombies (remember? Check it out here to see last year’s photos), this year skulls.  I did quite a few more as well.

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Then there were the kids… Frozen and Monster High top the list there!

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This next one was a first … My first bearded lady.

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And the normal Halloween type stuff…

A Witch

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A Face Peel…

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A Creepy Jester…

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The Joker… and some sort of Anime character he had on his phone (I have NO idea…)

Joker WTF 2014

And my only special effects requests this year.  They were dressing as “army zombies” (promised me a photo once they got into costume.)

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This next was a mash-up – He called it The Angel of Death.

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And this guy was hilarious… he wanted a Velociraptor so I narrowed the T-rex design and made sharper teeth. He seemed thrilled and was taking selfies of himself continually.  His friend was giggling about it.

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And this was a copy of a design she found on the internet – pretty much exactly as that is what she wanted.

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So that is some of what I’ve painted over the last week or so.

I also painted staff and Haunters at the Muskoseepi Halloween Spooktacular on the 25th, and at the Grande Prairie Museum’s “Stooks and Spooks” on the 29th – got my picture in the paper painting there (won’t get my hands on a copy till Monday.)

 

 


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Cretaceous Park – Grande Prairie 66 million years B.C.

Yesterday was the annual Wearable Art Show which is held as part of the Alberta Culture Days activities here in Grande Prairie.  I’ve entered it before in 2011 and 2013 (click on the year if you want to see what I did then!)

This year I decided to go with a dinosaur theme.  I already had built the Pachyrhinosaurus head for the Amber Ball back in August so decided to build a Tyrannosaurus Rex to go with it and build a routine for them to do at the show.

I always like to take on the big projects.  For about the first time ever I didn’t do sketches for this creation before starting – I printed a couple of photos for reference which I kept on the table while working.

I started by making the teeth – they needed to dry out before attaching.  I used Crayola Model Magic and shaped it around golf tees for reinforcement (didn’t actually stop the teeth from breaking but that’s a different story!)

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The eyes were made from Model Magic as well – used the Toffifee tray to press it into to get the shape, then painted with acrylic and used Model Magic clear glaze on top.

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I sized a baseball cap for Stewart’s head (he has done all my Wearable Art Show entries!) in order to build the head to fit.  Then I cut fun foam to extend the bill of the cap out, built it up with large sponges, cut panels of fun foam to shape the back of the head and then covered it all with Elmer’s Glue-All and torn up bed sheets.  Same as I did for the Pachy.

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I made the top of the head first then had Stewart come over to check it, then measured how big I had to make the lower jaw and made a template from paper and checked it around his neck to make sure it aligned with the top jaw.

Here is top of the head right way up.  I used small styrofoam balls for the eye ridges.

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I also made bums for both of the dinos – the T-Rex was made out of a sponge cut to shape, mounted on a piece of fun foam and covered with glue and fabric – I laced elastic through the foam before mounting the bums.  The Pachy bum was made from a sacrificed Triceratops… may he rest in peace.

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I bought a pair of mechanic’s gloves at the dollar store with green rubber palms and taped on fun foam “talons” which were then wrapped with fabric and glue.  I only wrapped down to the first knuckle as Stewart was going to need to use his hands.

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Once I had the head, jaw, gloves and bums made I started to primer paint – the T-Rex was hunter green base and the Pachy was bright orange.

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The feet were made out of batting cut to shape then completely covered in duct tape, then mounted on crocs, and wrapped in fabric and glue.  I then attached claws on the T-Rex’s.  In the next photo you can also see the bottom jaw – made to slip over the head.  On the T-Rex I stippled two other shades of green over the hunter green base on all the part were painted.

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On Saturday morning everyone came to my place to get started.  Kim, who was the Pachy was wearing tights and a tank top that was painted the night before, and then finished on Saturday once she put them on.  Stewart got his base coat of body paint on and a final fitting of the head to get the strap placements right to support it.

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Then we headed over to the Centre for Creative Arts to finish the body painting on both models and get ready for rehearsal at 3 p.m.

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Getting Stewart strapped in so that it all worked and moved the way he wanted took a lot of effort and time – Kim was essential in making that happen!  Thank you so much!

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Waiting… Love this shot.  Looks like he’s in a doctor’s waiting room…

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These are shots I took of some practice runs through we did while waiting for the dress rehearsal to start.  No formal shots yet – I’ll share when I get them.

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The routine was great – and funny!  I had an epiphany at the required rehearsal on September 14th – the joke of the routine was dinosaurs not being to adapt to changing ways of earning their livings… while we were doing a bad run through it occurred to me that the music required narration so people would understand what was happening.  A theatre friend volunteered to do a “David Attenborough” type voice over so I did up a script and sent him my music choices with timing and he made this AMAZING three-minute documentary sound track for me!  Thank you Scott!  I would upload it, but it is an MP3 file and it won’t allow me to.

And a final shot of the T-rex – I left both costumes at the Centre as they will be putting them on display.

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Time flies when you’re having fun

What have I been up to lately?  Well.. it has been a busy summer.  Lots of festivals, make-up for photo shoots and building a dinosaur and doing a body painting for the Amber Ball… and meeting Dan Aykroyd…

Dan Ackroyd

…you know, just stuff.

I built my Pachyrhinosaurus out of fun foam, sponges, a bed sheet and Elmer’s Glue – I actually took a week off work from the day-job to do it.

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I did a couple of all night marathons to get it finished… I was so tired one night I knocked my pail of diluted Elmer’s glue onto one of my chair seats, the floor, the walls, the carpet… well, at least it was the same chair I got blue latex on when I was making Macbeth’s head.  And it’s not like we use them for eating on or anything.

On the day of the Amber Ball (which is for the Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum) I also did a body painting of a Velociraptor on Candi (who is one of mom’s part-time aides.)

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Both the Dinosaurs were posing for photos and roaming around the Ball.  There were over 1000 people there and it was very formal – black tie with medals. We got to watch/hear The Tenors perform (amazing!) and Dan Aykroyd performed too, amongst others.  There were a lot of dignitaries there, including Dr. Phil Currie who the Museum is named after – here we are with him!

Maj Photography (49 of 220)

There was a photo booth set-up in the corner and hundreds of people came over to get photos, most with one or the other Dinosaur, or both.  Sometime the Dino Hunters were included too!

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I had painted the museum logo on Candi’s back so in a lot of photos it is just her back.

(You can view all the photos taken at the photo booth if you like – there are some gorgeous gowns, etc!  http://majphotography.shootproof.com/curriemuseum)

And, I will explain my butterfly net… we roamed in pairs, a dino hunter with each dino for protection basically.  I roamed with Candi who had the Velociraptor on her front.  I would say to people “be vewy vewy quiet… I’m hunting velociwaptors”  and attempt to “catch” the raptor with my net.  Got a few laughs.

On the home front, we had to get a new roof.  The shingles on the roof had “baked” and curled, receding from the edge of the roof exposing the wood.  These shingles were no more than 10-11 years old as the previous owner had put them on and she only owned the place for about 18 months, and we bought it 9 years ago.   The roofer, who we have had do work here before, said he has never seen a roof go bad so fast.  Anyhow, they replaced all the shingles with new laminated fibreglass ones and it looks all nice and pretty.  When we bought this house it was the best looking and most updated on the block … but everyone around us has been updating since we moved in.  So we were looking pretty rough.  But now, it all looks nice again!  The house is 53 years old this year.  I think we’ve spent more on it in the 9 years we’ve had it than we paid for it.  We love it, and it is a really nice house.

We also hired a new full-time aide for mom in mid-July who is working out excellently.  Thank goodness.

I am entering the Wearable Art Show again this with a two-piece/two model entry.  The show is on Saturday, September 27th this year.  Lots of work still to do – I see another marathon session in basement coming…