Shannon Fennell's Blog

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

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Winnie the Pooh and Tigger too!

This is the final weekend for The House at Pooh Corner at Grande Prairie Live Theatre.  The show is really excellent – great set, great actors, great costumes, and ahem, great make-up, of course.



Piglet, Pooh, Kanga, Tigger, Eeyore and Owl.



Kanga, Roo and Tigger.

Still time to get tickets for the three remaining matinees!

Monday night is first dress rehearsal for Les Miserables… stay tuned for photos!

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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!


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.

SugarSkull2014 Romneyskullblack Leachskull Skull2014

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

Frozen1 MonsterHi2014

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


And the normal Halloween type stuff…

A Witch


A Face Peel…


A Creepy Jester…


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.)


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


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.


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


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!)


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.



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.

DSC09757 DSC09752

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.


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!


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


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.

DSC09782 watermarkedtrex Faceoffwatermarked

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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I’ve received an award

A major award!  And no, not this one…


… although that one did arrive in a box marked “Fragile”.

I was named the recipient of the 2014 Jennie Tetreau Award is for Long Term Outstanding Service by Grande Prairie Live Theatre at their Annual General Meeting yesterday.


The criteria are: 1) continuous involvement in the activities of Grande Prairie Live Theatre over a period of five years or longer. Or, 2) an unselfish commitment of time and energy in a variety of capacities such as, board member, producer, director, actor, stage manager, production assistance or fundraising. Or, 3) recognized and respected for their contribution among members of Grande Prairie Live Theatre and in the broader community of Grande Prairie and Alberta.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to be there as I had a birthday party booked for the same time as the meeting, but I picked up my plaque this afternoon.

I got involved with GPLT shortly after we moved up here to Grande Prairie.  The first show I worked on was Love Letters in September 2000 so that is exactly 14 years ago.  During those years I have been involved with 71 shows as make-up/hair lead, 7 shows as an actor, 1 as costume designer (along with assisting with costume and props on several others) and I also served a term on the Board of Directors.  I had to go and count the number of productions I’ve been involved with… I have to say I am impressed, I didn’t realize how many there have been to-date!

I love working in theatre – I get a chance to be creative, to interact with a wide variety of people, to make friends, to have fun and to challenge myself.  And there is the immediate reaction to your work in theatre – you know if the audience likes it right away,  unlike film or editorial work where sometimes you never see the final result.  GPLT has given me the opportunity to really utilize my training and skills – from historical period plays requiring powdered wigs like The Miser and She Stoops to Conquer, to designing all the costumes for Charlotte’s Web and working with my mom to create them all, to making Macbeth’s and Dracula’s decapitated heads, to creating the characters from the Jungle Book and, my favourite so far… CATS!

I am looking forward to this season too – I’m booked for Les Miserables, The House at Pooh Corner and Cards on the Table.

I am truly honoured and pleased to be included with the past recipients of the award.  Thank you Grande Prairie Live Theatre for the years of fun and friendship and I’ll be staying around for many more years!





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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.





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.)


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!

Amber Ball 2014 C-6

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!

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…


April… one of my busiest months ever

It has been crazy and I haven’t had time to blog.  Aside from working on MacBeth at Grande Prairie Live Theatre, the usually face painting jobs (Easter Eggstravaganza at Muskoseepi Park, Swan Festival at Saskatoon Island Provincial Park, birthdays, etc.), I was coordinating a conference at the day-job.

I’ve been putting in 14 hour days at the office working on the conference – which was held last week (April 23, 24 & 25), then this Saturday was closing night for Macbeth, Sunday was the Swan Festival and today was back to the office.  I am planning to take off some banked time this week to recover… well, I won’t be at the office – that is a break.

Mom wants to go shopping and get a haircut on Wednesday, Thursday is earmarked for cleaning kits and putting away my gear from MacBeth (including washing all the blood off the head), getting my face painting kit ready for a big job on Saturday, and Friday I have a nail appointment and need to deal with paperwork I’ve been stockpiling.

I also need to get designs worked out for The Wind and the Willows which opens May 23.  I’ve had one discussion with the director about how to do it… trying to make all those pointy-faced rodents look different is a challenge – but I have a cunning plan!

The theatre announced the shows for next season last week and I’ve been booked, so far, for Les Miserables (YA!!), The House on Pooh Corner, and Cards on the Table.  I might audition for Cards on the Table – it is an Agatha Christie.

Here are some shots from MacBeth (I’ve posted lots more on Facebook – and links to the Theatre’s photos) – this was the last night and I did each witch differently and we added things to their hair (First Witch was teased up like Bride of Frankenstein with bats and spiders in it; Second Witch had a rodent lair complete with a rat; and Third Witch had a birds nest with a bird and lots of flies.)


The photo is hazy because of the smoke they had been using on stage.


This one above shows the bird’s nest.


And above is the rat’s nest.


And there is the bat, some spiders and a big moth in the First Witches’ hair.

It was a lot of fun doing up the witches.  They were the most shared photos and made the local paper too.

DHT Macbeth 04 14

I made the paper’s online photo gallery as well this month – face painting at the Easter Eggstravaganza at Muskoseepi Park. I have no idea why the photo is sideways – that’s how they posted it.

DHTPhoto Apr 19 2014

And a local photographer, Marilyn Grubb of Chipabirdee Images, has shared photos from yesterday on Facebook – These photos are priceless!  The pink butterfly is apparently crying because she didn’t have mustard on her hotdog.  No clue why the rainbow butterfly was sticking out her tongue!  Marilyn gets the BEST photos of face painting, in my opinion, and I really appreciate that she shares them with me!

crying bfly

Marilyns granddaughter

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Macbeth… something wicked this way comes!

GPLT’s production of Macbeth opened this past Thursday to the highest attended opening night this season!  It is the 51st season for Grande Prairie Live Theatre (they are almost as old as me!)

I have a crew of five – one dedicated to hair, three for make-up, and me.  I’ve been concentrating on the witches and their hair, beards and mustaches and sfx.  I stick around until the show is finished to remove Hecate’s (the queen of the witches) crown and help the other witches remove things from their hair, and to make sure the sfx is all put away.  It means this past week I was up way past my bedtime five nights out of seven.

The general manager of the theatre has been taking photos during performance and sharing them with us which is wonderful!  Here are some of the ones he has sent to me.


This first one is the wounded sergeant – this was dress rehearsal, we’ve added more “dirt” since.


This is Lady Macbeth… this shot shows off the amazing scenic painting by local artist Tim Heimdal – look closely.


The three weird sisters.


Weird Sister #2.


Weird Sister #1.


Weird Sister #3.


Macbeth and Lady Macbeth.


Three weird sisters and Hecate, Queen of the Witches.


You can see Hecate’s crown pretty well in this shot.  I’m doing her make-up gold to match the crown and her costume.


Macduff and Macbeth’s head.


Malcolm and Macbeth’s head. Final scene of the show.


This was a posed shot after Friday’s performance .

I decided after dress rehearsal to change the make-up and use face paints instead on the witches.  It makes them more  other worldly and shows up well.  All the hair is theirs, teased and sprayed (we’ve gone through three cans of hairspray already), have used nicotine stain on the three sisters’ teeth, and there are twigs in their hair too.


Here is a shot of me working on a witches’ hair… takes a lot of concentration.


This shot of Macbeth really shows the scenic painting… if you couldn’t see it in the photo of Lady Macbeth!

Tickets are still available – show runs till April 26th.



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Macbeth: In the flesh

Yesterday I did a bit more latex work on  Macbeth and fixed up the nose and sealed up the mouth.  Added some flesh around the neck cut too by attaching pieces of fabric softener sheet to disguise the straight edge of the lid attached for the base.

Then I applied a primer coat of white PAX paint – PAX is a mixture of acrylic paint and pros-aide medical adhesive that adheres to rubber.  I let that dry completely then applied two coats of flesh coloured PAX.  I used up my supply doing this so will have to re-stock before my next major project.

I rigged up a couple of hangers so I could suspend the head over the heater – I needed it to be completely dry before handling.  The PAX can stick and lift off if not completely dry.


While this was drying I built a “crown” for Hecate (queen of the witches).  I only found out about this yesterday when I stopped at the theatre to pick-up a wig and was shown photos of Hecate from another performance and also saw the costume.   So… hit Dollarama and Michael’s for stuff, found a couple of very cool LED headbands on clearance at Target, etc.  And created a rather cool crown which will be woven in with the actor’s own hair.  I’m really happy with it – and black duct tape is da bomb!!

I also cut up two wigs – I couldn’t find one dark enough brown so will be layering a lighter brown and black in strips to approximate the correct shade for Macbeth’s hair – it will be bloody too so should all work fine.  Here are the strips laid out so I could get an idea of how it will look.  It is like attaching a whole lot of extensions to the head.  I’m going to use tacky glue to do that, one strip at a time.


Once the head was dry I did a coat of straight acrylic paint in a paler shade.  This will give me a flat, tack free surface to work on.  I left the patch at the back of the skull as I was holding it there while painting it.  I’ll be filling it in later.


I’ll lay the hair next I think, at least most of it up the back of the skull, and work on the handle – I picked up some narrow drapery ties to use and will weave some of the hair into them.  Some hair needs to be tacked down around the face – to hide the lack of ears for one thing!

Then I’ll attach eyelashes and some hair for eyebrows before laying hair by hand around the hairline.  I’ll have to check with the actor about his beard – he will adjust his hair length to match what I do but I need to make sure that any beard I lay will match his natural shape.

I also found out yesterday that they need blood packs for on stage fight scenes, SFX on stage, etc.  Would have been nice to get some specifics a little earlier than 10 days before dress rehearsal.

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And that’s a wrap!

Last night was closing night for The Shape of Things at Grande Prairie Live Theatre.   It is not often that you get an opportunity to body paint the same thing nine plus times over a period of a few weeks!  Typically I never practice a design before executing it, so this was a treat to be able to change things up each time, to tweak it and decide what I liked best about it.

Here is a series of shots from each night (except for the seventh… forgot my camera, duh!)

Statue Mar 2014-page-001

Brendan was great to paint and we did a “shoot” every night before they opened the house.  A lot of audience members didn’t realize that he was a real boy! LOL

I was trying to be “arty” and get a mirror shot here, but couldn’t manage it without being in the shot.


Last night we had the entire paint done in less than 40 minutes, which was my goal.  If I had some Fardel cream I think we could have had it done in half an hour or less – we spent a LOT of time working the white to get an opaque finish.  We, meaning myself and Cazzie who was assisting.  We split him in half with me putting the base on top and she was doing the legs (I don’t bend well).  Then I would use the grey to add some shadow and depth to the abs and other areas, then I did the darkest marbling and Cazzie would sponge on random light green, then she would add in marbling with light green while I finished up the darker and then one of use would add in white highlighting.  The wig would go on before we started the marbling as there were lines to match up with, like on the briefs/grapes.

When we were done we would go down to the stage and Cazzie would do any touch-ups required – usually hands and inner thighs… here’s a shot of that, you know, just to help you understand the great lengths we go to, to ensure the best finish possible…


It was a lot of fun to do.

The next show is Macbeth.  Today I am casting the actor’s head to construct the prop for the decapitation scene… I love my job!



Here is a photo of the statue I am creating for “The Shape of Things” currently running at Grande Prairie Live Theatre.   The opening scene is set in an art gallery and the statue is a required prop… they didn’t like the one they’d ordered so instead I get to paint one for them every night of the show’s run.  I love my job!



I’m still trying to get the white to match the briefs (which are painted with craft acrylics).  I used the last of my Fardel cream white on the zebra I did last month and there are no North American suppliers of that brand – which, IMO, is the best coverage.  I’ve been using what I have on-hand.

It is taking less than an hour to do him.  I am hoping by the last night we’ll be finishing in less than 40 minutes.