Shannon Fennell's Blog

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


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Day 133…

Over four months into the pandemic now. I don’t see an end to it soon. Even though Ontario has mostly moved to Stage 3 of reopening, it is still not contained/controlled. If everyone would wear a mask and maintain social distancing it could possibly be contained, but so many don’t.

I honestly do not understand people who think that wearing a mask and maintaining a distance from others is too hard for them to do. Selfish gits. Losing my life, or someone else’s, isn’t worth going to a beach or a pub or a party. It isn’t even worth going for groceries when there are delivery options.

I am staying home as much as I possibly can. I am still alone in my unit which is nice as the added stress of a roommate is gone, for now. Since it is already past mid-July I don’t expect they’ll have anyone moving into the vacant room until later next month (although I could be wrong.) My other three roommates most likely will return for the end of August. But, there’s a possibility, if their programs have gone 100% online for the fall semester, that they may choose to stay home with family. I know they all have leases to next summer like I do.

I’ve been eating well, which means more than I usually do when I have somewhere to go during the day. I generally have one meal (usually when I get home) and a snack (that would be breakfast.) Now that I am home all day I usually have two meals and snacks… not a great plan. And, well, now I’m trying to get back to just one meal and stopping with the extra snacking! I need to fit my clothing in September for school!  This is my “normal” breakfast, which I am back to now: cheese, some cucumber and celery, and a massive coffee (decaf most of the time.)

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I’ve not been as productive as I was earlier on in this isolation. I putter. Did a few more drawings but took a break from the painting series. Made some jewelry – goal is to use up my craft supplies and beads so I can reduce my on-hand materials. I’m now assembling “dangly things” with shells and other bits of stuff I’ve collected over the years.

Here is a micron drawing, and I used my new iridescent watercolour paints and pencil crayons to add colour to it.

The paints are Finetec Pearlescent Colours. They are quite lush.

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A friend passed them onto me as she found they didn’t do what she had wanted them to.

Below is a photo of the first batch of jewelry I made up. I’m planning to sell them – during third year we have opportunities to set-up to sell things as part of one of the classes we are in. These are mostly painted wood pendants with glass beads, with some metal and wood beads as well. If you are interested send me a message or comment on this post!

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I’ve started making hanging/dangly things now. I lay out stuff on my work table so I can just sit down when the spirit moves me to put something together. I sorted out pieces to use into little trays (I save the plastic trays from the 99% cacao Lindt chocolate bars,) one for each dangly thing – all the components and beads, etc.  I’ve got the finished ones hanging all over the room. I’ll photograph them once I’ve got this batch finished.

Hope everyone is managing through this upheaval and keeping healthy. It will eventually get to a point where we can start getting back to doing things without the constant fear of infection. Eventually. Be safe.


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Day 107…

Today is the 107th official day of the Pandemic. Well over three months and still going strong. I am staying in isolation as much as possible and wear a mask every time I leave the house even if it is just to take the garbage out. Time is actually going by surprisingly fast, which I didn’t expect. Not sure if that is good or bad, though.

I’ve been puttering with art projects, particularly the series of 35 paintings I started a couple months back. I’ve decided that all species will be threatened or endangered in the wild.

The base coats are acrylic paint, brush blended. Then I do the white outline in acrylic, then alcohol inks for the actual creatures. Once I get to larger surfaces I will probably start using acrylics for the creatures’ base colours.

 

This set of six 2×3″ is complete. These are, from left to right, top to bottom: Acadian Redfish (endangered), Chevroned Butterfly Fish (decreasing), Mountain Inago Pygmy Chameleon (critically endangered, possibly extinct), Golden Mantella Frog (critically endangered), American Burying Beetle (critically endangered), and Rusty Patched Bumble Bee (endangered.)

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I started the next set of four, which will be plant species. These are on 2 3/4 x 4 1/4″ wooden ovals.

This is the Stenogyne Kanehoana which is native to Hawaii and known only on Oahu – it is a flowering climbing vine that is a member of the mint family. It is thought to possibly now be extinct in the wild – the last time one was seen was in 2004, when cuttings were taken.

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I took a break from that project, with 10 of 35 paintings done, and did some other work.

I’ve spent a lot of time educating myself about systemic racism over the past several weeks. And it is sickening. As a Canadian there is nothing that makes our society any different than any other Eurocentric/White dominated culture. I am continuing to research and read everything I can. After I got into all of that I had to do something to work out my emotions and process the information, so I created this drawing. I’ve actually been continuing to add more items as I learn about them since I took this photo of it. #BlackLivesMatter

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This next one was an exercise in learning about my Derwent Procolour pencil crayons, and how to use the Blender pencil. It turned out well, I think, and I like how they blend so smoothly. I will be doing a lot more with them.

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And this one is one of my regular “doodle art” relaxers. Drawn in Micron pen and coloured with watercolours, gel pens and felt pens. I just grab the pen and start making shapes. There is never a plan, that’s why they are doodle art.

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We’ve heard from the college and Fall semester is going to mostly be remote, but for those of us in Fine Art it will be a combination of both remote courses and in class. We have to have our studio classes – Painting, Drawing and Fabrication – in person as we have to use the equipment, materials and need the space. We won’t know details until we get there I guess.

I’m not a fan of online courses. When choosing my electives I never took online only courses – even if the subject was one I really wanted to take. I just don’t see the point of a class without live interaction. And I am not really comfortable with the live online group thing, not in the least. If I need to do a course online, just put all the information and assignments there and I’ll work my way through on my own. I can deal with the hybrid classes where you attend class, but your work is all online – I think they call this a “flipped classroom model.”

This is my final year for the Advanced Diploma program. Then I will be going to another institution to finish a Bachelor’s in Fine Art.


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Day 61…

And… here we are. 61 days since the pandemic was declared and 54 that I’ve been in self-isolation.

So how is it going for you? I’m still good. Turning to jelly from lack of exercise but otherwise fine.

I now have a selection of masks. One for going where there might be people. Another couple for in the house (to protect myself from the roommate AND the spray disinfectants I’m using every single time I leave my room) and one I use to run down to the mailbox or dumpster.

My going out mask is from a friend – it is fabric and has a double layer so filters can be inserted. I put ties on it as the ear elastics weren’t holding it to my face properly, and also attached the metal nose piece from one of my paper masks to it. Fits very comfortably, and firmly, now.

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I was finally able to order groceries for pick-up from the supermarket. They had just extended their hours when I happened to be randomly checking the websites and there was a time slot open – it is 9-10 p.m. on Saturday. So I can now get some meat, a few fresh vegetables, some “good” cheeses,  pesto and other items I can’t get at the drug store up the block; they cater to students being right across the street from the campus of a college and a university – so, while I can get eggs, cream, butter and a few other things (when they are in stock,) it doesn’t provide me with everything I need or want.

Granted going out that late will be a challenge – I go to bed around 9:30! But I will deal with it. I’ve got the college parking lot pretty much to myself!

I’ve been doing all my laundry by hand in my room. I have no desire to go upstairs to use the washer/dryer as they are right outside the roommate’s door. The other three that live here have gone home for the summer, and the two of us are the only ones here. She works in a long term care facility. She mentioned to me in passing about three weeks ago that a staff member had tested positive. She takes no precautions coming home from work. I don’t have enough disinfectant to deal with two flights of stairs, two landings, and the machines.

I had a laundry line and clothes pins from my adventures last year, so have rigged up the line in my shower stall, and things dry pretty fast as there is a heat vent in the ceiling of the bathroom. And frankly, it gives me something to do every day or two.

Final grades were posted for the year on April 28th.  I’ve got no issues. GPA is 5.0 again. Got 100% in Painting IV, 99% in Mass Extinctions, 98% in Art Survey II, 97% in Fabrication Studio II and 95% in Ethics.

I’ve been working on scholarship applications and got one sent off. Have a couple others involving reading and writing to work on.

I finished reading a book by Jerry Saltz (senior art critic at New York magazine and 2018 Pulitzer Prize winner for Criticism) called How To Be An Artist. Was very good. To the point and entertaining at the same time. He even includes exercises that you can do to work on specific skills and develop your own vision. (Photo from his Twitter account)

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Started working on a painting project. Going to be a series of smaller paintings in sets – diptychs, triptychs, etc. all the same theme and mediums. The plan right now is to keep them in the same style but that may morph as I work through the whole 35 of them!

This is the first triptych – might be done, or not. Haven’t decided. But I was pleased with how they turned out. They are all on 4×6″ canvas board, in acrylic and alcohol ink.

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I’ve got them where I can see them and think about whether I am going to add to them.  My original plan did include more, but not sure if I like them better as is. I’ve printed off copies of them to play around on to see what they will look like.

I like doing small work and what I have available to paint on is mostly small. 2×3″ up to 8×10″, and just one 12×16″. I plan to paint them all, starting with the smallest, so I’ve primed them with several layers of gesso.

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I’ve spent the last two days making lists of subjects to paint, researching and planning colours, etc. And then sorting into the groupings I want to create. Also matching background colours to subjects. I don’t want any backgrounds to be the same, they all have to be different. As all my yellow artists paints are in my locker on campus, I will have to improvise with that colour.

Next year is thesis year… this project could tie into that. Thirty-five paintings would definitely be a start for the year end show! Hmm… will ponder and write some ideas down for that.

Stay safe everyone.


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Leapin’ Lizards… It is Leap Year!

I wasn’t consciously aware that 2020 was a Leap Year until the radio station started talking about it last weekend. As Friday was the 28th and thus payday, and the deadline for T4s and other tax forms, it wasn’t on my radar. But, it does explain why I had no “memories” on Facebook this morning!

Apparently this is my 15th Leap Year. As I wasn’t born on February 29th that’s an irrelevant fact. So… nevermind.

I’ve been on my “Reading Week” break from school this past week. It seemed like such a long break to me a week ago – I like being busy and having deadlines – but it now seems as if it went by very quickly. I did manage to work through most of my To-Do list. The two items not ticked off are in progress – finishing my Fabrication project (it was already marked but I need to do all the finishing to put it in the end of year show) and culling my stuff, again.

Mid-Term marks were posted this week – I’m happy. I received two 100% (Painting IV and Mass Extinctions which is a General Education elective), 96% in Art History II, 95% in Ethics (another elective) and 90% in Fabrication Studio II.

One of my paintings for class was on the theme of representing ourselves, so mine represents memories of childhood. We lived on the west coast of British Columbia overlooking Juan de Fuca Strait and could watch the Orcas and sunsets from our house.

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My current painting is in progress with the theme of Mythology and/or Mystery so I am doing another painting of Rapa Nui – my go-to favourite subject currently! So far just the underpainting is done.

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My Fabrication piece that is still being worked on is all fibre art – quilting, crewel work, embroidery, crossstitch, beadwork, etc. This is a photo of what I presented for marking – a lot was just pinned in place to show where it would (probably) be. I still have so much more to do on it.

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I am doing this all by hand, so all the seams are being hand-stitched which is going to take weeks. I spent six hours simply stitching seams as shown below and only completed nine inches… I calculate there are approximately 12 feet more of those seams. I also have to go back over some that I did quickly in order to attach the main components for class… this is so much work! But… that’s what I do to myself on a regular basis. My ideas grow and expand as I start to work on a project, making it much harder on myself. But, honestly, I can’t do it any other way.

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Culling is a never ending chore for me. As I am constantly downsizing my accommodations, I need to lessen the amount of things I keep. I currently have approximately 126 square feet of living/storage space. That is it. I don’t store things anywhere but in my room. So it is important to keep it all under control, and tidy! Everything has to be neat and put away or it gets me stressed.  If I am working on something, my work table will be covered with bits, but that is the only spot where I will leave things.

I need to go through my clothes again. I really reduced what I had when I moved into this complex in the Fall, but since then there are more items that I HAVEN’T worn than I have worn. So, time to cull the clothing again.

I’ve also got a surplus of art supplies that I think I will try to sell.  A classmate has had success selling off her excess and recommended a platform, so that is something I might go at this weekend.

Pride & Prejudice wrapped up on the 15th – it was a really well done show, full of talent. It was a pleasure to work with the cast and crew at Oshawa Little Theatre. I really had fun working on the hair styles of 1813!

I spent a day completely rebuilding my website from the ground (or template) up. I’m quite happy with it. I had been given a critique of my art and social media/internet presence as part of a workshop I took back in January and some excellent points had been made. So I tackled the website as it was a relatively simple, if time consuming, fix for me. Still tweaking it as I go but I think it is looking pretty good – check it out and send along any feedback to me via the contact page! Shannon Fennell Art is the link.

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Only two more months of college this term and then year two of my Fine Art program will be complete. One more year here to finish the three-year diploma, then I will be moving on to another school to complete a degree. The college has articulation agreements with many institutions so I have lots of options – my plan is to complete the degree abroad as the adventure of living in another country is extremely appealing!

 


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New year, new semester, new challenges

Happy New Year. Ten days in now, but hey, still a valid wish to everyone. Regardless of the crap that is going on in the world, let us all think happy thoughts and do what we all can to make this world a better place for everyone and every creature on the planet.

I usually do a year in review post annually, but this past year was a bit of a blur. A lot went on, and when I look back it is hard to believe that ALL that happened in just the last 12 months.

The most notable things for me in 2019 were:

  • My trip to Africa in May for almost a month – I visited South Africa, eSwatini (the country formerly known as Swaziland), and Mozambique (I blogged about that here – that’s the first of eight posts about my experiences.)
  • The Year End Juried Art Show at the Station Gallery in Whitby, Ontario – I won a prize for one of my mixed media works! That was exciting ( I blogged about that here!) I helped with the show set-up for a week before I left for my trip too, which was a fantastic learning experience.
  • I spent 79 days over the summer working as a residential camp baker/cook at a camp at the south end of Algonquin Park, Ontario. I had to leave for the job one day after I got back from my African trip. I did not blog about that. It was exhausting with regular 16-hour days with only three actual days off the entire summer (that was NOT how it was supposed to be!) I baked, I cooked, I prepped, I cleaned, I slept. That was the extent of my daily activities. I lost 30 lbs in the process. On the up side, I invented some awesome vegetarian meals, and vegan, gluten free baked goods. And my bread and soups were legendary. But I had to have others taste everything I made as I couldn’t myself due to my dietary restrictions.
  • I had a 5.0 GPA for the Winter (Jan-Apr) 2019 semester, and 4.91 for the Fall (Sep-Dec) 2019 semester. Did some cool stuff (posted here, here, here, and here about some of them.)
  • And, tragically, lost Brian in August. I was at camp and wasn’t there when he passed over the rainbow bridge. It wasn’t completely unexpected as he was old for his breed (Samoyed) and had been declining – the last time I saw him in July he didn’t seem to recognize me. Not being there to say goodbye was, and is, upsetting and I still cry.FennellWideIMG_5377 8x10crop
  • I had to move, unexpectedly, at the beginning of October and now live in purpose built student housing across from the College. It isn’t a residence, but a private development. I share a three-floor unit with four other females. It is actually very comfortable – all rooms have ensuites and maglocks on the doors. That was my big issue with student housing/residences – security and privacy. All appliances including washer/dryer are in the unit, and the rent is all-inclusive. And being directly across the street from school and work is awesome. It did require downsizing even more than I had when I moved to Ontario – I now live in 126 square feet with EVERYTHING I own (except for the car – it is outside!) It is actually quite liberating to get rid of stuff.DSC00834

2020’s plans and activities include:

  • I am working on setting up to sell my art online. I just have to figure out the best way for me to deal with it. I need to start working on a business model for myself for the art. I was very successful running my make-up business for twenty years, but this is a bit different and I need to get my mind around marketing tangible goods rather than services.
  • I’m working on a production of Pride and Prejudice with the Oshawa Little Theatre which opens at the end of this month – hair and make-up, of course.
  • Classes started this week for my fifth semester in my Fine Art program. I have five courses this semester: Special Topics in Sociology, Ethics in Your Daily Life, Fabrication Studio II, Painting II, and Art Survey – 1900 to current.
  • I am having hand surgery on Monday … it is day surgery and I was told there is no down time. We’ll see. It is my left hand and I am right handed so hopefully I’ll manage okay.
  • No travel plans this year – I hope to go to school in Ireland (fingers crossed) in 2021 so my budget is tight. Depending on what summer job I get I might take a road trip to visit friends that are a day’s drive away – will have to see.
  • I started an art challenge January 1st. Art everyday – which I am posting on Facebook, Instagram, etc. I’m keeping things small so I can complete them in one sitting! I tend to lose the plot on the monthly challenges and really want to carry through on this one. Below are some of the items I’ve made so far… All are for sale! Except the Corgi, he’s already sold.