Shannon Fennell's Blog

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


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Heading into Jubilee Celebrations

This weekend will the be designated period to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee here in the UK. Thursday and Friday have been designated as bank holidays (aka statutory holidays as they are called in other places) and Saturday is the big party day – community block parties, etc. Here on the estate I live on there is a community BBQ and party on Saturday afternoon. I’ll be staying home with the dog – still not interested in mingling with unmasked people in a crowd.

We put up Jubilee bunting out at the shop/studio for the occasion.

Have been working on more art over the last month – finished assembling my glass mobile yesterday and hung it up in the shop. Came out a bit longer than I was expecting in the end, but I didn’t want the glass pieces to strike each other constantly. I’m really pleased with it. I plan to make more but with fewer parts and more compact. I’ve figured out more efficient ways to make them now too.

I was planning to hang it in the shop window but it is too long to fit, so it is on the wall. We’re thinking of taking commissions using a “pick your option menu” for components and quantity, a header piece shape, colour scheme/theme, length, etc. with each option having a set price.

We accidentally ended up ordering three different types of chain for the mobile. I wanted stainless steel for it, but first order was miscalculated regarding link size (too small) so ordered a larger chain. Was supposed to be stainless… however it was aluminum and the links came apart easily simply by pulling. So, third try, got a good size and strength, even if not 100% what I was wanting. But it worked for this quite well.

I also finished up another batch of fridge magnets that are miniature acrylic and ink paintings of scenes of Dartmoor. The squares are approx. 2×2″, the larger are 2×3″ – I like painting little landscapes! I’ve got another batch with the bases done which will be sunrise/sunsets and seascapes/shorelines based on South Devon.

I’m also starting a series of slightly larger (4×6″) mixed media paintings (on canvas board and framed) of specific plants and animals that are resident on Dartmoor. First one in progress is of bracken, then I’m planning flowers (i.e. bluebells, foxglove, etc.) and bushes (gorse, etc.) and ponies and other native animals and birds. I’m taking photos to use for reference for these.

Tourist season has started, albeit slowly. Coaches are starting to come to the Abbey now so we are getting little waves of people looking for souvenirs and gifts. I convinced Anne that we should put out a small display of our Christmas ornaments and cards… last year she wouldn’t let me put out Christmas items until November (even though we had people who wanted them.) And we’ve been selling them fairly steady! I explained to her, when I travel I look for items that can be Christmas ornaments, and the people who are buying them are doing the same! Now Anne is suggesting maybe I should start making more wreaths (which is my best seller!)

I remerchandised the shop – my sense of order was somewhat frustrated. So I moved some displays around – moved light coloured items from a white painted shelf to glass so they were more visible, spaced items out more, rearranged signage, etc. I was pleased with the results and it is really obvious that people are now looking at all the displays whereas before they walked by some without stopping to look.

We’re hoping the weather is going to cooperate for the Jubilee weekend as so many events are outdoors. Fingers crossed. Hope you enjoy your celebrations if you are participating in any.


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What was done in ’21

Here is to wishing everyone a better 2022!

So far… it is okay. Betty White died yesterday on December 31, 2021 – so at least we aren’t going to blame 2022 for that.

Another year that seemed to be longer than it really was is now over. I really am hoping this pattern will end soon. Time is supposed to go by faster than this.

I have to look back at my posts on social media and in my day-timer to remember what actually happened. Parts of the year seem to be many years ago rather than just months.

2021 was both a drag and exciting. In no particular order (I tried to be chronological but it got messed up!) these are the highlights.

  • My final semester started in full lock-down in January – we were 100% online until mid-term.
  • In February I was notified that I was the recipient of the 2020 Sabat Family Scholarship for Academic Excellence in Fine Art ($1,000) by Durham College.
  • My midterm marks were 91%, 97%, 98%, 100% and 100%.
  • I received offers from three schools to complete a degree in Fine Art
    • from IT Sligo in Ireland (which is now becoming Atlantic Technological University) for a BA (Hons) at the Yeats Academy of Arts, Design & Architecture. This is a one-year (Sept to May) add-on to get the degree – they gave me credit for three years advanced placement.
    • from the Arts University of Bournemouth in the UK for a MA Fine Art. This is a 12-month program full-time. They also awarded me a £5,000 bursary for tuition. (They suggested the MA, bypassing the BA, due to my three year advanced diploma and over 20 year career in the arts!)
    • from Plymouth College of Art in the UK. Their offer was for a BA (Hons) but they would only gave me credit for one year so I would have to complete a minimum of two more years with them to get their degree – I declined this offer outright.
  • I applied for the Government of Ireland – International Education Scholarship and was notified I was a finalist for consideration.
  • I deferred the offers to 2022 as I didn’t want to continue in the pandemic caused “hybrid learning models” that post secondary institutions were/are operating on. It is a lot of money to attend school as an international student and I don’t enjoy online learning models.
  • Was able to get back into the campus studio mid-February to continue working on my Fine Art thesis project – I spent on average four days a week there!
  • I had three works in the Annual All-Student Juried Show at the Station Gallery in Whitby, ON which ran for the month of April. It was limited attendance due to the pandemic restrictions.
  • I was nominated (one of three students from our program) to represent Durham College’s Fine Art program in the national BMO 1st ART! 2021 art competition. The nominated work was my thesis project so I had to install it in the college studio to get photographs for the competition submission by the May 15th deadline.
  • April 16th was the last day of classes – my last official day of my Fine Arts – Advanced Diploma. I, however, continued to work on my thesis in the studio until June!
  • April 16th was also the day I received my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine!
  • My final grades for my last semester at Durham College were 93%, 97%, 99%, 100% and 100%. Out of seven semesters I had four with GPAs of 5.0. My overage GPA was 4.98.
  • End of April we were back in full lockdown.
  • Received my credentials from Durham College in the mail. My diploma was sent in a cardboard mailer with a form letter. Pretty anticlimactic really. Ontario Colleges Diploma in Fine Art – Advanced, with Honours, from Durham College. On the President’s Honour Roll and College Honour Roll.
  • Finalized my thesis project and installed it in the studio on campus. As we were not going to have an actual gallery show due to the pandemic, I created a dedicated blog for my thesis – “Anthropocene of the Crime.” I put a lot of work into the project and not being able to have people interact with it in person was a huge disappointment – the blog at least lets me share that research and the 58 individual paintings that are part of the project, representing 60 threatened species. You can check out that blog here Anthropocene of the Crime.
  • June 14th we had our virtual show and artists’ talks with the Robert McLaughlin Gallery in Oshawa in lieu of our Annual Grad Show. It was a live event -they now seem to have removed the links from their website which is a bummer, but it is still up on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_nEaRwXsthU my segment starts at 57:07.
  • I applied for a UK Ancestry Visa (I’ve been planning to move to the UK since 2015 but got delayed due to various life events) and received it within a week of the in-person appointment at the Visa office in early July.
  • Received my second dose of Pfizer on June 28th!
  • Spent all spring and summer downsizing my life – selling and donating belongings, selling as much art as possible, scanning and tossing paperwork – in anticipation of having my entire life fit in three large suitcases (plus carry-on luggage.)
  • Sold most of my thesis paintings – kept three for myself which are in my room. My favourite ones, that I had been planning to keep, sold right away – which is because they were the BEST ones!
  • Booked and attended appointments in anticipation of leaving the country at the end of August. My flight was booked for August 26th. There were lots of medical and other things to deal with before leaving!
  • I left Canada from Pearson International in Toronto on August 26th and arrived at Heathrow, London around 10:30 a.m. on August 27th. I then quarantined for 10 days and two negative PCR tests. I’m living with friends in Plymouth, England.
  • We went on a week holiday to Yorkshire in September staying in a gorgeous cottage – we took daytrips to York, Bridlington, Harrowgate, Harewood House, the Wensleydale Cheese Factory, Bolton Castle, etc. Traffic was manic on the motorways – should only have taken 5 hours to drive there, but it took 11!
  • Got on with a surgery in Plymouth (that’s a doctor’s office if you aren’t English!) and got referred to Ophthalmology for my eyes. I am VERY impressed with the NHS. I’ve had two treatments in each eye to-date, with another already scheduled have been waitlisted for surgery prior to them switching treatments…
  • I’m working with Anne in her glass studio and having a load of fun creating all the fused glass Christmas ornaments for the shop and how starting on spring themed items. Current project is a clock with a rose trellis on it.
  • Got my booster shot on December 14th – this one was Moderna.
  • And I’ve just received my unconditional offer letter from IT Sligo for the one-year add-on for a BA (Hons) in Fine Art for September 2022 start. I’m not sure about what my final decision is going to be about going for the degree… the pandemic has messed up my timeline and caused a major rethink of my goals in that regard. I’ve got until March to let them know.
“Birds on a Wire” one of the works in the April 2021 show at the Stations Art Gallery.
Final finished thesis project “Anthropocene of the Crime” May/June 2021
Harewood House in Yorkshire – they filmed part of the Downton Abbey movie here. It is stunning! September 2021.
Fused glass Christmas ornaments December 2021 (this was early on, more and different items were made as the season progressed.)
Current fused glass project – 10″ diameter clock face which is a rose trellis. December 2021.
The Great Barn at Buckland Abbey. Anne has her glass studio in The Ox Yard there (which is just behind me as I took this photo!) This is a National Trust property in Dartmoor National Park – used to be Sir Francis Drake’s place. October 2021.

All the best to everyone for 2022. Fingers crossed we can get out of this cycle of pandemic variants and get back to free travel and movement!


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Double vaxed at last

On Tuesday I got my second dose! My original second appointment was for August 6th, but lots of supply has been arriving and the Delta variant is gaining ground so the provincial government started opening it up. As of this past weekend everyone can book. I was automatically notified of my rescheduled appointment by the clinic I had my first one at.

The challenge for many is getting booked through the online system, which isn’t necessarily easy. There are pop-up clinics in hot spots too. On Sunday June 27th the City of Toronto and Scotiabank Centre (where the Maple Leafs and Raptors play at home) held a clinic all-day and vaccinated 26,771 people! A new world record for the most vaccinations in one day. The previous record was 17,001 in Texas in April.

I am glad my appointment was at 8 a.m.; it was already 24C and I was walking there. I don’t like heat. When I got home before 9, it was up to 26C and I was pretty uncomfortable. Thank god for A/C. I really feel horrible for everyone out west getting hit with the record breaking heat wave – the city I moved here from is in the mid-high 40s right now. I am so glad I’m not out there.

It was really busy at the clinic too. They’ve got the drive-thru option going with two lanes, and inside the rink was packed (socially distant, of course). Way busier than when I went for my first shot. But it was moving very fast. I was in line inside by 7:57, shot in the arm by 8:04, then had to wait 30 minutes (historically I’ve had a vaccine reaction), and was home by 8:45.

I remembered to take my little sketch book with me this time, so the 30 minutes went by in a blink while I was sketching some ideas for a commission.

And the only reaction I had was a sore upper arm around the injection site, again, same as the first shot. So that was great.

There are lots more doses in the pipeline so it looks pretty good for most Canadians to be fully vaxed by the end of summer, which is awesome. I will, however, be continuing to wear a mask for quite some time. I like not catching colds and having a reduced allergy response to pollen! Plus, no sunburned nose.

My plans for heading abroad are moving along – visa applied for, flight booked, notice given to landlord, selling/donating/disposing of stuff, bought two huge suitcases and fully vaxed! Now I just have to wait and hold my breath… and hope for no delays.

I finally stopped working on my thesis project “Anthropocene of the Crime.” I got the additional paintings I decided to do finished, and did end up doing just one more to make it a nice round total of 60 threatened species.

Giant Armadillo (listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List) the last painting, species #60

We did our live virtual show and artist’s talk with the Robert McLaughlin Gallery on Zoom on June 14th… still waiting for a link from them to share with everyone, once they have it up on their website. This is the link to the live presentation invite that quotes our professor and the featured art is my project: http://rmg.on.ca/events/emerging-visions-artist-talks/ I’m hoping they’ll post the recording soon.

The project is still up in the studio for now. We are supposed to hear from BMO 1st Art around July 9th on the results of their judging. Then I’ll be taking it down and, if I happened to be the chosen Ontario artist I’ll have to mount it all on a sheet of plywood to be transported to their show, if not (most likely) I’ll just retrieve my paintings and scrap the rest. Some of the paintings have been spoken for and there are some I want to keep.

My project blog, which covers all the species I’ve painted and explains my project, is at https://anthropoceneofthecrime.wordpress.com

The final and complete crime investigation board of “Anthropocene of the Crime”

Received my credentials in the mail yesterday. I have to say I was underwhelmed. I was expecting the college to include some swag at least, not just a cardboard mailer with the diploma inside. I’ve seen what other schools have sent their grads and was expecting there would be something. They didn’t even include what normally is given out at convocation in a normal year.

They saved massively on the budget for convocation for two years now, and they also kept charging us ancillary fees for services and facilities that were NOT available during lockdown – so why couldn’t they have at least provided a decorative folder for the diplomas?

It truly is, literally, just a bloody expensive piece of paper.


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Day 447 (of the Pandemic)

Another month gone and we’re getting close to summer now – just three weeks until it is official.

The last 14+ months have seemed like both the longest AND the shortest of my life. Time has dragged out something awful, but also things have happened and gone by so quickly.

My timeline for moving abroad is now less than three months – 87 days precisely. That is the date my lease here is up, so that is the date I’ve been aiming for as a departure date. However, now that it has been announced by the Provincial government that our second vaccinations are being moved up due to lots of supply, I may be able to go sooner! My current appointment is August 6th, but if I can get one in July I could leave at the beginning of August instead of the end.

There are a lot of things that have to be done in a specific order, and then all the rest of the details that one has to take care of when moving, and moving internationally takes it to a more intense level.

I’ve continued to paint more threatened species to add into my thesis project. I ended up installing my display in our studio on campus and finished it for photographs on the 13th of May. After that I decided to keep painting. I’m enjoying the process and it is keeping me occupied going over to the studio to work on them.

This is my thesis project, which I call “Anthropocene of the Crime.” In this there are 43 paintings of 45 different species that are under threat. Along with information, articles and papers on the threats to the species’ survival, suspects, and lots of string.

I have completed another eight paintings, and have six more in progress, that I am going to add into this before we do our “Live Virtual Show & Artists’ Talk” for the Robert McLaughlin Gallery on June 14th. Most are smaller – ten are 3×4 inches, with four 5×7 inches – and will fit in where there are openings in the existing layout. With those included there will be a total of 57 paintings of 59 different species… I feel like I need to do one more to make it an even 60.

When I was mounting it and putting in the map pins, I suddenly realized that I had somehow missed including any South American species! Oops. So I did three the next day to add in before photographing, and I’ve also added another species in the batch I’m currently painting.

I shot a video explaining the project and what is on the crime investigation board in detail and posted it to YouTube. Here’s the link Antropocene of the Crime – it is just under nine minutes. I wasn’t sure how it would work, as I was holding my camera and talking without planning a script, but it turned out well enough that I’m willing to share it.

I am working on a dedicated blog to accompany my project – as we aren’t having a public display it loses impact completely. In the blog I will have each painting posted with information about the species on their own page, with links and other information. It actually will provide a lot more in-depth detail than just examining the physical display in person, and show off each painting individually. There are a year’s worth of paintings in this project!

The blog is called “Anthropocene of the Crime” (of course) and once I’ve got the last batch of paintings finished and the photos added to the blog, it will be ready to go live. It will be available no later than June 14th when we do our virtual show, but I’ll put it up as soon as I’ve got it ready.

The current batch I’m working on. The eight on the left side are finished, and the rest tomorrow maybe.

I am planning to create note card sets with all the paintings and possibly prints and other items. So I’ve scanned them all as I’ve been finishing them. That’s a summer project, along with a low carb cookbook/e-book a friend is insisting I put together. I scanned all my recipes and once I’m done with this whole thesis project, I’ll start working on that.


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Day 416 (of the Pandemic)

And so it continues. We are back in a hard lockdown here because of record numbers of cases with the third wave of Covid, full ICUs, younger people dying very quickly from the variants… and a slow vaccination rollout.

I was able to get my first Pfizer vaccine on April 16 – I was really emotional about it. I had to wait 30 minutes after it and while I was sitting there I starting crying. Combination of relief and letting go of some of the fear I think. Also was the biggest group of people I’d seen in over a year.

School finished on April 16th – my three-year Diploma is complete. I am still working on my Thesis project in anticipation of our grad show, however, that may not be happening at the gallery – we don’t know yet. The lockdowns have caused the public galleries all sorts of issues so we don’t really know what will be happening. Our prof has called an online meeting with everyone for Monday. I still need to get mine assembled and photographed in the next week or so to submit to the BMO 1st Art! Competition.

Very happy with my marks again. This semester I received 100%, 100%, 99%, 97% and 93%. The 93% was 3D Printing which stressed me out a lot, so I am very pleased and relieved about that. Another 5.0 GPA – so for four of my seven semesters I had a 5.0, that makes my average GPA 4.98.

The two lowest grades I had were in my first year: 86% in Photography and 87% in Digital Drawing. I did not know any of the programs that people were using for Digital Drawing as I’d never done any (had zero interest in it and that has not changed.) I was pretty lost and, as we were told to “use what you know,” I ended up using the Windows photo editor, Paint, Word and Excel. It wasn’t fun but I managed to do the projects, but I wasn’t happy with any of them.

Photography was challenging due to my sight and hand problems – I can’t see the manual camera controls without my prescription and even then it is still difficult; and I can’t see the subject with my glasses on. I also can’t hold the camera and manipulate controls at the same time as I have grip problems. Was so frustrating. I would take 400-600 photos for each assignment and wouldn’t know if I had anything useable until I got them on the computer. I would just randomly change settings without knowing what they were until I could check the metadata and hope I’d used the right ones! By fluke I nailed a couple of the assignments and got really high marks, which made up for the duds. LOL Very frustrating as I can take pretty good photos… on AUTO SETTING!

When our final grades posted I copied and sent my transcript off to the schools that I have conditional offers from for finishing my degree. IT/Sligo, the Irish school, immediately sent a new unconditional offer letter.

With the state of the pandemic I am waiting to make a decision on my offers – I do not want to continue with online learning. While I did well, I did not enjoy it, nor do I feel I learned as much as I could have with in-person instruction and the interaction with other students. As a international student the tuition and fees will be very high (for instance, at my current school they are six times more than domestic students pay.) I want the in-person, hands-on, social interaction aspect to be there; it is a huge expense and I want the most I can get out of it. I will leave it as late as I can to make that decision, and hope that if I do decide to go that I can still find private living arrangements! If not, I will defer for a year.

It seems that most schools are anticipating a “blended” delivery model – some in-person and some remote. But things are in such a state of flux. Part of the issue is that the 18-24 age groups are not being targeted for vaccination in most places yet. Seems that the schools are looking at the number of people vaccinated on campus as the marker for how much they can open back-up.

I’ve got extensive lists of things I need to do preparing to move overseas, but there is an order that they have to be done in and getting the process going involves making the decision about which school’s offer to accept or defer for a year. I’ve got just over a month before processes have to start – visa applications, finding accommodations, making deposits… some things can be on pretty short notice (like booking flights… right now super easy) but others it can be a couple of months.

Here are some of the 41 paintings of 43 threatened species that are part of my final Thesis project. This part of the work is done, and now I start on the actual physical construction and assembly.

I’m really pleased with how these have all turned out. Of course I have my favourites, and there are one or two that I may actually not use in the final display as they didn’t translate as I had hoped. But I am happy with this body of work.


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21 Days and One Year (of the Pandemic)

How’s everyone holding up? I’m getting antsy to get vaccinated. My region is opening up appointments in five year increments (started at 80+ years), Monday they opened it up to 70+ years. So… based on the timing of the last increment, I hopefully can book by the end of the month! Fingers crossed.

Until I get that first shot I am in limbo mentally. I can’t start making firm arrangements or accept one of my offers for schools abroad, until I am pretty sure I CAN travel in September. I figure once I get that first one I should be good to go, literally.

I took part in an open day for the post-grad program at the Arts University of Bournemouth last week – watched a recorded presentation, then there was a live Q&A. They inferred things will be “hybrid” in the Fall (all going well) – they were talking it up as something they’d been planning pre-pandemic. I’m not completely keen. I know it is a Masters and self-directed, but I like more personal contact and being in a setting with other people. I am so over working in my room alone! The course leader did put me in touch with a student from the US who is there now so I could chat with them about their experience travelling to the UK in February and how the program is going.

I also submitted an application to the Government of Ireland – International Education Scholarship last week. IT Sligo sent me the application – I’ve an offer from them for the BA (Hons) Fine Art. This is a very prestigious scheme – they choose 60 international students from countries other than EU/EEA and award:

  • A €10,000 stipend for one year’s study
  • A full fee waiver of all tuition and other registration costs at the higher education institution

Would be amazing to get that – makes it very, very close to a full-ride! They have a very stringent criteria and would be a huge honour to be chosen! Won’t know what happens until after June 1st. So, I will just not think about it and carry on with getting things done!

My last official day of classes here is April 16! I will still be working in the studio after that on my thesis project as the show, according to the latest update, won’t be held until June. So our professor has said we have time to continue work. That is comforting – I would have been able to be ready earlier, but the extra time allows me to complete more individual paintings to include in the installation.

But I do have to make a submission by May 15th for the BMO 1st ART! 2021 art competition -I’ve been nominated for it and it is for my thesis project! So I need to have it ready to photograph the week prior.

The Annual All-Student Juried Show is opening this week – April 1 to April 28. I put three works in: one from last semester (mixed media,) one from Fall 2019 (a diptych acrylic paintings,) and one that was my own project in 2019 (not school.) I am hoping I can get over there to take some photos of my work hung up. They are currently open for limited occupancy. I wouldn’t go until classes are done, so hopefully they’ll still be open to the public then.

Here are some recent paintings I’ve completed for my Thesis project (since my last post) on Threatened Species: West African Slender Snouted Crocodile, Elkhorn/Staghorn/Pillar Corals, Island Oak, Gooty Tarantula, Little Brown Bat, Great Hammerhead Shark, and a Polar Bear.

Hammerhead Sharks are the strangest looking creatures!

These two paintings are still in progress – a Mexican Wolf and a couple of Gilbert’s Potoroos:

And this is a shot of all 34 paintings that are completed or in-progress right now! I’ve an additional 12 small canvases prepped and ready, if I decide I want 52 to be in my final installation. I’ll see how much progress I make over the next four sessions in the studio then decide.

Our weather is settling to the unsettled spring pattern… frost in the morning and t-shirts in the afternoon. But it is so nice to get out for a walk in the sun – which is warm when you are out of the wind but that isn’t very often!


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Year One (of the Pandemic)

Well folks, it’s been 365 days since the W.H.O. declared the Covid-19/Coronavirus a Pandemic.

How are you doing? I survived a probable case of it (sick for three months last Spring/Summer) with no noticeable lasting effects that we know of – other than taking months to get my energy back and lose the aches and pains; saw some specialists with no discoveries of anything new. So that’s all good.

Now I’m just waiting to be able to get the vaccine. Hopefully soon as I have plans!

Last week I received an email from the Arts University of Bournemouth, who had offered me a spot in their MA Fine Arts course, informing me that they had awarded me a £5,000 Global Bursary! Very, very cool.

I am thinking about possibly deferring my offers for school this Fall though. I’m worried about the pandemic and the variants, and as I have absolutely zero interest in doing any further education online or in hybrid models, I think it might be the best option to just put it on hold for now. While I am getting the grades I want, I am not enjoying it. Art is a hands-on activity for me, not digital, and I am so, so tired of being on the computer day-in and day-out. This is supposed to be fun and it really isn’t.

Here are a few of my latest smaller paintings for my Threatened Species thesis project. That is ticking along well now that I’ve been able to get back in the studio. These are still in progress, but I’m getting there! We prepped the wall in the studio so I can start arranging everything – 8’x4′ is a heck of a lot more space than I was seeing in my mind’s eye! But I’ll use it.

These are 5×7″, 4×12″ and 6×6″. I’ll be starting on 8×10″ canvases next – I’ve got ten prepared with the backgrounds. Also, I was given four more smaller canvases so I’ll be adding them into the collection too. We’ve only got six more weeks until the end of the semester!

I’m getting a bit confused about our year end shows but I think the Thesis show for graduating students will be in June, and the annual all-student juried show is actually before the end of semester – I believe we were told we have to submit for April 1st. Semester isn’t over until April 16th. We haven’t received the information in writing so that’s why I am confused. usually these all happen after the end of semester. We also don’t know for sure if they are live AND virtual OR all virtual.

As we did not have the annual all-student juried show last year, due to lock-down, we all have completed work to submit for it without rushing to get things finished from this semester.

I’m having a hard time with accepting that in only 36 days I will be finished my program here, and have graduated. Wow. Doesn’t seem that much time has passed. But… it has been a very weird past year.


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It’s New Year’s Eve – Day 298 (of the Pandemic)

I was thinking of waiting until Day 300, but decided to just go ahead with this on New Year’s Eve.

I’ve made a bit of a tradition of posting my version of a year-in-review here, but, honestly feel like there isn’t much to say about 2020 that hasn’t been covered or isn’t worth mentioning at all.

We’ve all been dealing with the same issues around the world, to different degrees – depending on your country and/or jurisdiction’s response to the Pandemic and related issues.

Here in Ontario, Canada, we are in lockdown again. Record daily totals of new cases (2,923 yesterday) almost everyday. We’ve politicians taking their family on international vacations for Christmas and posting misleading “Christmas” greetings that make it look like they are at home talking about how this Christmas is different! Bastards. Meanwhile, those of us who are worried, scared and following public health restrictions are spending our time alone in our homes.

The good news is that the vaccines are here. Based on news reports yesterday, I should be able to get it sometime between April and July… at least, that’s their “schedule” for now. As I am planning to attend post-grad studies abroad in the autumn I really need to get that done! Presuming that the Pandemic travel bans and protocols are eased up by then to allow for it.

So, for what it’s worth, here’s my rather subdued year-in-review:

  • Major highlight for me was for both semesters in 2020 my GPA was 5.0 which puts my overall GPA at 4.96.
  • The college went into full lockdown mid-March so we had to finish up the semester at home – even the studio classes. My plans for final projects all went out the window and I had to improvise at home. Home is student housing – 126 square feet of space of my own – which doesn’t allow for large builds or even flat works bigger than 18×20 inches. But I managed.
  • Fall semester was, for Fine Arts, a combination. Our two studio classes were on campus – they split us up into smaller groups in different studios to maintain social distancing while there (although many people don’t grasp the concept!) The rest were live on-line classes.
  • Got my African Violet to bloom!

  • I was Hair & Make-Up lead for Pride & Prejudice at the Oshawa Little Theatre – show ran in January and ended mid-February – right before the shit hit the fan. It actually seems like it was longer ago than that at this point.
  • In January took a workshop on How to Become A Successful Artist – lots of useful information from Tim Packer in Oshawa.
  • Managed to break the little toes on BOTH feet (at different times) during lockdown. I’ve since wrapped the leg of my bed with a towel and duct tape to stop doing that!
  • I sold my car at the end of August as I wasn’t using it enough to justify the insurance and parking costs.
  • I completed the Institute of Student Leadership’s program and was awarded their non-academic certificate. This involved social education, attending the summit/conference, volunteer hours and campus involvement.
  • Did some art classes online for fun – watercolours and pencil crayons in particular.
  • Started a monthly challenge for January and actually completed the month.
  • Participated in many webinars over the summer on social issues, learned a lot.
  • Had a mixed media piece accepted into a juried show at the Station Gallery in Whitby.
  • Took part in National Portfolio Day online and talked to many schools around the world about transferring to finish a degree. I’ve started the application process for a few for both BFA and MFA programs.
  • Applied for scholarships – not successfully so far. But I keep trying!
  • Was alone in my unit for around four months without any roommates. Three went home at lockdown in March, and the fourth moved out in May. So I was all alone until September. Was nice as I didn’t have the stress of worrying about contamination.
  • I started keeping a “Pandemic Journal” on my Facebook timeline in March when the WHO declared the pandemic. I post every evening with the new total worldwide numbers, local updates, and some personal things.
  • And, last but not least… I cut my hair, MYSELF, on Christmas Eve. I could not take it anymore! I hate it touching my ears or neck. And I did an excellent job of it considering I did it by touch only, no mirror! Full disclosure – I do know how to cut hair on other people, but have never done more than trim around the front on myself before. I keep it very short and “feathered” so the fact that it is lying smoothly after basically grabbing and hacking thrills me.

Here is one of the latest works I’ve completed – this is the companion piece to one I shared in my last blog post of Conservation successes. This is of Extinctions we’ve caused, the concept is the various species crossing over the Rainbow Bridge to become constellations in the night sky. It’s 8.5 x 11″ watercolour/ink and pencil crayon and will be published in a local arts magazine that will be featuring the art of the students in our program.

I wish everyone the absolute best of health and happiness in the New Year. Be safe and we’ll get through this.


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Day 287 (of the Pandemic)

I’m glad that the vaccines are finally in play, but this is going to get much worse before it gets better. Numbers are soaring here. I’m still staying away from people as much as possible and I have to say I really miss interacting and conversing with people. Not that I was ever a social butterfly but I was busy with volunteering and my make-up/face painting business, school and work and that provided contact with lots of people.

Friday was the last day of the Fall semester and also was timetable selection for the next. There is only one course scheduled for on campus at this point which is our Studio Thesis class. All the rest are now online. If everything here goes back to total lockdown like they did in the Spring, there is a possibility that class too, may end up remote. Which is NOT good. Hard to work on large studio projects when you can’t work in the studio.

Marks are out on Tuesday and I have my applications pretty much ready to send off to degree granting schools as soon as I have the marks. I’m applying to both BFA and MFA programs abroad.

Close to 95% of all the work I did this semester tied into my thesis theme of Threatened and Endangered Species. Here are some of the final works as submitted:

This is a painting Conservation successes (so far) – species that humans managed to save by taking action. The assignment was to produce two images suitable for publication (8.5 x 11″) in an arts magazine, on a social cause or issue. The companion piece is of Extinctions that humans caused.

This is my elephant mixed materials sculpture at the stage he was at for final review and marking. I’ve still a fair amount to tweak! Each stage I spot something that isn’t quite right (to my eyes) and have to do some alterations. As long as we are on campus next semester I will be able to finish him.

This is one work that didn’t fit my overall theme. The assignment was to research an ideology and narrow down a focus. I ended up concentrating on women’s reproductive rights being out of their control. I was horrified to learn about symphysiotomy and pubiotomy – I mean, sick to my stomach horrified. And these were still being performed in Ireland at a catholic hospital up until the 1990s and are still being used in the developing world. I’m not going to get on my soapbox but the fact that women were not informed of the procedures, were not aware of them, gave no consent and went into delivery thinking everything was fine… to only wake up to to find themselves in a hammock with their legs tied together for months because their pelvic cartilage or their entire pelvic bone had been severed to get the baby out easier… and most women NEVER properly healed and were in pain the rest of their lives. I’m getting irate again typing this!

I did this mixed media piece for this project. It is called “The Garden of Men” and is collage on acrylic and stretched canvas. I did a lot of drawings of the female reproductive system, scanned them, replicated many times, printed, coloured, cut them out (got blisters from the scissors) and made this collage garden out of them.

And this is one of the 17 paintings I completed in my main thesis project. This is a Kakapo, a flightless parrot from New Zealand who is critically endangered. They are the only flightless parrot, the heaviest and the longest lived (around 100 years.) Conservation efforts started in the 1890s but weren’t successful until the 1990s when they took drastic measures and cleared two islands of all predators and relocated every specimen they could find to the islands. They only found 49 to relocate so the genetic pool is limited and unfortunately issues are developing.

I wish everyone a Merry Christmas (at home please!) and here’s to a healthy and happy New Year for the whole world.


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Day 225 (of the Pandemic)

This has been a long seven and a half months and the second wave is surging. I’m guessing next spring before we will know if we’ll be able to start resuming old activities. I know I’m in no rush.

Areas around me are having to roll back to previous restrictions due to the increase in confirmed cases. And watching the numbers around the world the wave seems to be more of a tidal wave – in Belgium for instance with over 10,000 new cases per day.

I have two classes on campus and today we were informed that as of this Thursday if we are to be on campus we have to do an online assessment to get permission to access. We have to do it every single day we have to go on campus, permission is for only that day. Three standard “self screening” questions. Are you sick? Have you travelled? Have you been in contact with a case? Then they send you an email giving you permission to enter – which you have to show to gain access.

I’m perturbed as I don’t use a smart phone and resources to print off emails daily aren’t readily available – so how am I supposed to show this permission? I’ve sent off an inquiry.

Latest art projects are progressing. Prepped 21 more canvases with the base colours for my thesis project over the last couple of weeks. Last week I started working on the subjects. I’ve finished 13 of the total 35 planned works.

First batch are all 8 x 10″, and the second has 4 x 12″, 6 x 6″ and 5 x 7″.

Did a prototype for my Fabrication project, sort of. It showed me my original idea wasn’t going to work, so I switched gears. This is a 6 x 10″ shadow box with a white rhino I made with glass seed beads. The final project is going to be 24 x 24″ and not a rhino and will use found objects. I only used the beads I had available so the contrast of the shading on the body isn’t as striking as it could be – silver outline and detail with gold fill. I quite like how it turned out.

I also did some art on leaves for one of my online classes – it was a sustainable theme so I created a surface out of dried leaves and non-toxic materials to do my illustrations. I made four “leaf paper sheets” but only used two.

I can peel off the white – it was child safe non-toxic paint, and the leaves can be used for something else. And I know it will peel off as it started doing so while I was drawing!

Halloween this year is so quiet. Very strange for me as for over 20 years it was such a big deal working flat out doing make-up for clients and events for most of the autumn, and particularly the two weeks leading up to the big day. With the virus things are very low key everywhere.

Just as a throwback – here is one of my many favourite Halloween make-ups done on a client.

Have a nice Halloween, whatever you end up doing or not doing! And stay safe.