Shannon Fennell's Blog

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


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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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The New Me – Documented

With my whole lifestyle change over the last couple of years I was wanting to get some proper, professional photographs of myself.  I wanted some headshots (I act occasionally and needed at least one proper one), some suitable for business use and promotion, and some just for my own satisfaction – to show how I’ve changed physically.

Other than school photos or those horrible family photo sessions, I had never had a professional photo shoot of myself for my own reasons.  I have photos taken by pros but I was an accidental subject, or the photos were for someone else’s use (for magazine profiles for example.)  I have some very nice photos – but they were of the “old” me.

So this past Sunday I finally had my photo shoot with MAJ Photography (her website is this link) in Grande Prairie. Maj had taken my photo before at different times and I knew she is great at portraits and getting natural looking shots of all sorts of people. I can’t recommend her highly enough.

This is one she took for a magazine feature about me in 2013.

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And this next one she took when we were both at a local event last December. I was wearing my new coat and asked her to take some photos of it for me.

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We finally got it coordinated and last Sunday was the day!

I had a mini-crisis trying to decide what to wear. Even with a closet full of new clothes I had a hard time choosing. I hadn’t actually realized HOW many tops I’d managed to acquire in the last eight months or so – since I got to my current size. I counted all of them while I was trying things on to pick out what I thought were the best. Keep in mind that there are a couple dozen $5 t-shirts from Michael’s, but I have probably around 70 tops. That includes turtlenecks for winter, sweaters, fleeces, blouses, tunics, and Aloha shirts… Some were my mom’s and now fit me so I kept them.  And some are oversized that I’ve kept for gardening and messing around with crafts, etc.

Anyhow… after a marathon session of trying on various things, I narrowed it down to eight tops I liked and thought looked really nice. I left the final choice to the photographer. When she got here she chose four of them – based on the backgrounds and contrast needed.

We were at it for four hours!  Started in my basement studio with two different backgrounds – the painted wall and my black backdrop. Then we went to a local park as it was a beautiful Spring day, in front of the Courthouse, then inside the Art Gallery in three different spots, then outside the Cultural Centre on the patio.  We were all over the place.

Maj was really fast getting the images to me! We did the shoot Sunday afternoon and I had the files by Tuesday afternoon.

I am beyond thrilled with how they turned out.  Maj sent me close to 40 shots to use and all are great, but I have my favourites.

These three are for using for promoting my make-up services.  I was sitting sideways in my make-up chair leaning over the back in the two.

This was a studio shot.

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The rest of these were taken at the park, in front of the Courthouse, in the Art Gallery and on the Cultural Centre patio.  I love the natural light – and my beautiful blouse from Morocco looks great with my leggings and boots.  This is a bit of overkill with multiple shots but I love them all and couldn’t narrow it down any further.

The fact that I actually got down and sat on the floor is a testament to Maj’s skill, as I don’t get down that low for just anyone!  Getting up involved railings and a lot of leverage.

I think this is my favourite – I am adjusting to how I look as it is still so new to me. Losing 200 pounds is a lot of difference.

Maj Photography (36 of 37)


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And Spamalot is a wrap!

Last night was closing night for Spamalot, a GPLT/GPRC co-production.16730162_10210365810035857_2774274503412802183_n

I was the Make-Up/Hair Designer (it says so on the poster!) and lead, and also built the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch and the Holy Grail, as well as making costume pieces and accessorizing the Lady of the Lake.  I also provide other pieces of costume to some of the Knights (when one once wore a Knight’s costume in horse shows one has stuff in the tickle trunk!)

The show has three dress rehearsals and ten performances and I was there for over five hours for each one of them.  There were eight make-up/hair crew which rotated with usually five or six at each performance.

I made pox for the Not Dead Yet number out of latex – we used toupee tape for the cast to stick them on.  It worked VERY well!  For those with latex allergies we had red face paint and a sea sponge.

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These were actually very effective – and looked quite gross from the audience!

I have hundreds left over… all ready for Halloween – smallpox anyone?

I was asked to build props on very short notice – less than a week before dress rehearsal. I used cloth mache for both the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch and the Holy Grail.  The hand grenade was thrown each time and had to stay together, so I used a wooden dowel right through the structure and wired plastic mesh and foam… it held up fantastically.  I can’t find a dent on it.

The Grail was a rush job as I only had four days to make it which really wasn’t enough time to make it pretty, but it did the job.

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I made headpieces for the Lady of the Lake – she had no accessories or jewellery with the costumes that she was given so I got creative.  I built crowns using pipe cleaners, ribbon, wire, beads, shells, etc.  She had seven costumes and I had different accessories for each (one of the costumes I provided – the first greek goddess one, and one was her own old grad dress – the royal blue with spaghetti straps.)  I raided my jewellery stash and outfitted her with my personal items, and created a bustle for one dress and arm drapes for another.

Here are some close-ups to show detail on the five crowns I made for the show:

Two headpieces were things I had on-hand – the beaded fringed cap I had bought in Paris years ago and the other was a simple beaded headband that matched the robe.

Here are King Arthur and the Lady of the Lake.

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The blushing brides – Lady of the Lake and Prince Herbert.

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And these are all taken during the performances:

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We all received a framed image with our role in the production on it which is pretty nice. The little Polaroid is when “I” found the grail and won the “Arthur” award as Best Peasant in Grande Prairie… long story… LOL.  In the group photo I am below the ‘n’ in Finland in the pink sweater.

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It was a fun show and very funny!  We spent a lot of time in the wings watching what we could as it was so good!  Most of the crew watched it from the front at least once (some more than once.)  The next big musical will be in 2019 – we do the “big ones” every two years.  We all need to rest up between them!


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And… That’s a wrap for Halloween 2016!

Another year of Halloween appointments completed.  This year was a bit rough for me as I am still struggling with my gallbladder pain (surgery is scheduled in EIGHT MORE SLEEPS!) As I wasn’t driving I was able to take my pain pills so it was reasonably tolerable (most of the time.)

This was the first year that there were no no-shows, so thank you to my clients – and the ones who called to cancel.  It made planning my day and filling open spots so much easier!

My first appointments this year were on Thursday afternoon, then all through the day Friday, solid on Saturday until 10 p.m. – thankfully Sunday was free from appointments but spent prepping for a special effects job – and then Monday, Halloween, with more bookings.

There were a lot of skulls.  Every year there are skulls. This year most of what I did was skulls… sugar skulls, half-skulls, full skulls, demonic skulls… with a few other things.  And one special effects zombie.  Five years ago it was the other way around – lots of special effects zombies and a couple skulls.  Guess tastes change.  Or overexposure on social media.

So here is a selection of what I did this year.

This first one won Scariest Costume (client emailed me to let me know!)

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These next ones were a few of the ones done at at Muskoseepi Park for their annual Halloween Spooktacular.

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And a sampling of the skulls done over the weekend:

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And some of the usual suspects…

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Vinny’s ides this year was Cruella DeVille who had been bitten by were-dalmatians and was morphing into one… LOL…

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And the last one to share today, a little raccoon ready for trick-or-treating!

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It’s alive (kinda sorta…)

I love my regulars!

Chris is always something dead… or something that probably makes things dead.

This year he wanted to the grossest zombie to ever walk the streets of Grande Prairie.  So I did a sketch of what I though would be good for this year – here is my sketch.

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He liked it, so he bought a lot of prosthetics and I made a bunch of things (including the eye ball to hang out.)  Then I spent time building, painting and prepping everything ready to apply on Halloween morning.

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Chris lives for Halloween.  This year he walked all over town dragging a blood and body part filled wagon behind him.  Dedicated I tell you.

I borrowed lighting from a photographer friend and she showed me how my new (I bought it almost four years ago!) camera worked and we got it set-up on a tripod.  I took photos all through the process and once I find out HOW, I will have a video of Chris’ transformation to share!  We are both really excited – but I need to learn how to do it first.  So for now here are photos of what we did today.

A before and after application photo comparison – Looks pretty darn disgusting if I do say so myself.

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The rest below I took after Chris got into costume.

Studio shots to start with.  See the dangling eyeball?

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This one I’m considering submitting to a modelling agency.  Decent head shot don’t you think?

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Then it was time to hit the road for the day!

First, he had to pour three gallons of blood into his wagon… which really was disturbing.

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And… this is what people were seeing on the streets of Grande Prairie today (and the mall, and BMO, and I have no idea how many other places he got to!)

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Another modelling head shot!  I think I like my new camera.

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We are already planning next year’s “look”… I love my job!

 


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It has begun…

My first Halloween clients of the year were tonight.

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And I put my Mummy up in the window.

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Another client dropped off his prosthetics so I can get them painted and prepped for Halloween Day.

Tomorrow my first appointment is at 7:15 a.m.

Saturday is fully booked at this moment.  That seems to be fluid though as Saturday has been fully booked about four different times since the end of September, then I’ll have a couple clients cancel, fill-up the spots, repeat… LOL.  A wait-list has now been started.

Skulls are the most popular request so far – both the Day of the Dead variety and the skeletal ones.

I acquired a great piece of artwork today – a friend is doing a drawing a day and this was her work from yesterday.  I loved it so I bought it!  Framed and hung it in my studio this afternoon so she is on the wall to supervise all the skulls I will be painting this weekend!

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My studio is all set-up and  organized, including a photo backdrop. I am ready!  Bring it on Halloween!

 

 


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Halloween is Coming – part four

HALLOWEEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This weekend is going to busy, busy, busy!  The party night, which is when my services are in the most demand, is Saturday.  As Halloween is actually next Monday, the bookings on that day are kids on their way to school and my regular special effects client in the early morning.

This year I have appointments booked on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday.  As always, it is a tiring weekend, but I look forward to it every year.

I am booked solid on Saturday but there are always cancellations at the last minute – and unfortunately no-shows.  I keep a waitlist and will call people if a spot opens up, so you can still contact me (message me through my Facebook page which is linked to on the right.)  I just can’t guarantee you will get in.

Here are some of my favourite costumes and make-up design combinations.

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I love what I do!

Next week’s post will be all about what I did this year for Halloween, so stay tuned.