Shannon Fennell's Blog

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


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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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Time for another Low Carb Cookie recipe!

This time I think I’ve figured out how to get them to NOT crumble (but I’m not sure exactly what it is that actually worked!) I haven’t stored them yet, but so far so good. And they are YUMMY. They have a texture that reminds me of a Digestive biscuit and even sort of taste like I remember them tasting (it has been awhile though, so my memory might be wrong.)

*UPDATE* They’ve been stored in an airtight container all week and still have the great snap to them, stayed firm and are not the slightest bit crumbly. I am so happy and excited about that!

There are no sweeteners or gluten in this recipe so these cookies will be good for Keto, Low Carb and Diabetic diets/eating styles.

HAZELNUT & ALMOND COOKIES

I got 30 cookies out of this recipe, of roughly 1×2 inches each. Your results may vary.

325F for 12-15 minutes (until golden brown around the edges.)

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup of softened butter

1 large egg (room temperature preferred so the butter doesn’t seize up when you add it)

1 tsp pure vanilla extract (you can reduce this to half if you aren’t a fan of in-your-face vanilla flavour, or use almond extract, etc.) Use what you have, I always use pure as I fine the fake has an after taste.

1 cup of hazelnut flour/ground hazelnuts (or whatever they call it in your neck of the woods)

3/4 cup of almond flour/ground almonds (see above)

1 tsp of baking powder.

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Cream the butter in a medium bowl until until smooth. If you prefer you can use an electric mixer, but this mixes up easily by hand. I am all about not having a ton of stuff to wash after.
  2. Add the vanilla and beat until incorporated into the butter.
  3. Add the egg and beat until it is incorporated completely. You can beat the egg and vanilla together before adding if you prefer; but I just toss it in and beat the crap out of it in the bowl.
  4. Add in the dry ingredients – I added it in 1/3 cup at a time (that is the only size of measuring cup I seem to have! LOL) and mixed it in completely before adding more. I also sifted the baking powder, lumps are hard to get rid off if they get in there!
  5. Once all the dry ingredients are completely mixed in and the dough is pretty smooth looking, turn it all out onto a sheet of baking paper or plastic wrap, roll up in a log, wrap it, and put in the fridge for around half an hour, you just want it to firm up enough to cut uniformly, but not be hard. My log was around 1.5 to 2 inches in diameter, because that was what my parchment paper width allowed for. Adjust to suit yourself.
  6. Turn on your oven to preheat while the dough is in the fridge.
  7. Get the dough out and slice into 1/4″ slices (that’s something like 6-7 mm, I just checked) and put on a parchment covered cookie sheet. They can be pretty close together as they do not rise much. Mine are “squished” as the dough was still fairly soft, but did cut and hold the slice shape. This has no effect on the the taste or results so who cares if they aren’t round?
  8. Put in your preheated 325F oven on the centre rack for 12-15 minutes. Check at 12 minutes to see if they are nicely browning around the edges, if not, give it a couple more minutes. I like my nuts well toasted… so I want to see some colour on those cookies!

Check out my other food posts on my FOOD STUFF page.

I think I may try them with cheese – should be good! Nuts and cheese go great together – maybe some Philly or a nice Brie. Would probably be great drizzled or dipped in chocolate too! I will have to check.

*UPDATE* They were very good with the cheese!

*SECOND UPDATE* These really are great! They held their “snap” and stayed crisp to the bite for most of the week (i.e. how long it took me to eat them) stored in an airtight container in the cupboard


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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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Sesame Cookies – Low Carb

It has been almost a year (11 months!) since I shared one of my recipes. I was in a baking mood this morning so I made a chocolate cake and cookies as I was completely out of “treats” in the freezer.

This recipe is, as is usual with me, based very loosely on one I found online. I was looking for low carb or keto cookies. I found a vegan chocolate chip keto recipe – but I’m not vegan and don’t use sweeteners so I just used it as a starting point so I knew measurements and proportions.

Full disclosure… my first batch wasn’t optimal. I added in some almond flour – which was a mistake. I ate them… but the texture was off. I still have that niggling doubt in the back of my brain that you can’t bake with just nut butters! I know better, but… I won’t do that again.

Low CarB Unsweetened Sesame Cookies

350F/12-15 minutes – makes 12-16 cookies

Ingredients

1 cup of Tahini (sesame paste/butter) – you could use cashew or almond butter too

1 large egg

2 tbsp of sesame seeds (raw or toasted – this is totally optional!)

1/2 tsp of pure vanilla (I like pure, use what you use)

1/4 tsp of baking soda

1/8 tsp of salt

Directions

  1. In a medium mixing bowl combine all of the ingredients and mix well. I usually start with the seeds and dry ingredients and stir to make sure the baking soda hasn’t any lumps, then add the rest and mix vigorously by hand. You could use a mixer – but this does not need it, it blends together very easily and quickly. Note that once the egg goes in, particularly if it is cold, the batter starts to clump up quickly.
  2. Stick the bowl in the fridge for around 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat your oven to 350F.
  4. Line a cookie sheet with baking parchment, and get the dough out of the fridge.
  5. Shape the dough into balls of approximately 1″ (2.5 cm), flatten in your hand and place on the cookie sheet. Note that they do not rise much so you don’t have to worry about spacing them out. Basically, treat them like old fashioned peanut butter cookies!
  6. Put on the centre rack in the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes. Keep an eye on them. It is hard to tell when they are starting to brown as they are brown! I find 12 minutes is a good time to pull the tray out and stare intently at them to see if there is any sign of darkening at the base. You do not want to over-bake. These are a dry cookie and over-baking is bad.
  7. DON’T TOUCH THE COOKIES! When the are hot they crumble!
  8. Once you take them out, let them sit for at least 10 minutes, then carefully remove to a cooling rack or, as I do, set on a paper towel to completely cool.
  9. Once cool they will stay together and you can store in an airtight container. I put mine in the fridge to keep, but they will be fine on the counter for a week or so – if they last that long. They will also freeze for ages.

Options

  • Once I rolled the dough balls in sesame seeds before baking (as in the photo below). I liked them that way BUT the seeds fell off all over the place. The lack of sugar means there is no “glue” to hold things like that on.
  • Another time I just pressed the bottom of the ball in the seeds, I liked that as they toasted on the bottom, but, again, a lot were falling off. Depends how worried you are about random sesame seeds dropping all over. That is why I now put some directly into the dough!
  • You can add things to this dough – high cacao content chocolate chips, other nuts, etc. I plan to do that… I want to use pecans, but didn’t have any on hand.
These were rolled in sesame seeds before baking. The other photos have the seeds in the dough.

This is a dry cookie, but good. Don’t try to make them bigger as I am pretty sure they will crumble when you bite them! This size holds together to be eaten without a mess! (p.s. this is a small cookie sheet!)

Today’s batch cooling before I took them off the tray. You can see how hard it is to tell if they are done in this shot.

If you like sesame you should like these. The lack of sweetness doesn’t register with me, but if you must use a sugar replacement 1/2 cup of a granulated version will work to make them a sweet cookie.

I hope you like them as much as I do. I know some people spit out stuff I like as there is no sugar, but think of them as a fat cracker and eat them with some cheese!


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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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Day 355 (of the Pandemic)

We are coming up on the one year anniversary of the official Pandemic on March 11th. I don’t know how it has felt to you, but I feel like I have been living in this one room for about 20 years now.

The vaccine roll-out here is a mess with the slowdown in delivery of the vaccine, and general provincial government screwing around. Initially, I was in the group scheduled for April. Wednesday the government announced a new rollout plan and my group will be able to make appointments starting July 1 as long as the supply “stays steady.” Also it was announced that the local vaccination centre will be right across the street from me – that’s very convenient.

My plans were to be leaving the country for school at the end of August – but I think/assume that I will be required to be vaccinated and still require a negative test 72 hours prior, etc. Hopefully I’ll be able to have all required doses of the vaccine before then. Thing is that booking flights, giving notice on my unit, etc. all need to be done in advance. Hopefully things will have stabilized and I can do that and still be where I need to be when school starts.

Since my last blog post, I’ve received an offer for the MA Fine Art program at a University in the UK now, as well as the offer for a BA (Hons) in Ireland. I still haven’t heard anything from the school I had the interview with for their MA program in January. I received a package from the Irish school for the Government of Ireland – International Education Scholarships which I am going to be applying for. It is for non-EU international students and the government gives out sixty 10,000 Euro scholarships which the Irish schools match! So, pretty much ends up a full-ride scholarship. Definitely worth the work to apply for!

As of February 16th we were able to get back to the studio on-campus for one class. There are only two of us actually going in as everyone else is choosing to work at home, which works great. I managed to get quite a lot done. We also got permission to go in on another day as well – the two of us have to work in the studio and need to catch up.

Mid-term marks were posted on Tuesday and I’m happy: 91%, 97%, 98%, 100%, & 100%. The 91% was for Rapid Prototyping/3D Printing which I was terrified of… but I got a 95% on the assignment to create a hybrid creature. I struggled, cried, suffered painfully and had to take painkillers prophylactically just to manage a couple of hours at it at a time, but I did it. Here are the final results:

I can’t wait until this semester is over so I never, ever, have to do this again. We used SculptGL for this assignment – the prof had to use a program we could all access remotely due to lockdown, so something free and web-based was it.

And, also school related, I was notified by email that I am the recipient of a 2020 In-Course Scholarship for Academic Excellence for Fine Arts – Advanced! I’m very happy with that!

I’ve been working on updating my Facebook pages. I had two, but wanted to combine them. Facebook has a merge option for business pages and I’ve been trying, for a YEAR, to get them merged. You have to be the admin on both – check; they have to be the same location – check; they have to represent the same thing – this I worked on in order to get them aligned as one was initially for my make-up business and the other was fine art – but over the months I synchronized them, even changing the names so they matched and all details were identical. I repeatedly tried to merge and Facebook kept refusing, and as typical, there is no way to question or request a review or explanation from them. I deleted the one I didn’t want yesterday – I now get 14 days to change my mind Facebook tells me, then they will ask again if I want it gone forever.

I’ve methodically been adding content to the keeper page, on the one I deleted I’d been posting and encouraging my followers to like/follow the other page (many already did). I also had to go through all my social media, links, etc. to make sure all links and references were to the page that is still active. That’s a whole lotta work!

The goal is to streamline my online presence to make it easier for me to maintain and for people to find me. My Facebook page is now solely https://www.facebook.com/ShannonFennellArtist It is also on the side bar.


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Day 331 (of the Pandemic)

I just realized I didn’t post in January – I post monthly at a minimum, but time is weird now. I kept thinking “I need to post” the last couple of weeks, then… BAM, it was February. Oh well. It isn’t like there is a lot to post about at the moment! LOL

My final semester of this program started and we’re now a month in. Time is going by so quickly. We are 100% online right now as the Province is shutdown, but we were told by the Dean of our faculty that the studio classes will be allowed back into the studios after February 10th, when the lockdown is lifted. Hopefully this stays true, as I am hooped if I can’t work on my installation in the studio. There is absolutely no way I can finish it at home.

I have to take Rapid Prototyping/3D Printing this semester. I did not enrol in Fine Art to do 3D Printing (or Film & Audio Production, or Videography, or…) but I am stuck doing it. It hurts physically – I have arthritis and other things in my hands/wrists and having to use a mouse to that extent for that amount of time is exhausting me. It was suggested I try a tablet so the college loaned me one. Nope. Have to hold the button on the stylus down in order to use it – hurts worse than pressing the mouse buttons. So I have to take painkillers, then work in short spurts.

The first thing I “created,” which almost killed me, was an elephant. This was doing the class (video) learning exercise for intermediate tools. It took 11 hours! Given how much I suffered doing this (in tears a few time) it turned out pretty decent for a first attempt. Although, once this course is done I am NEVER doing this again.

The next thing is our second assignment, have to create a hybrid creature – research, sketches, make our own alpha brushes, and make it… Due in nine days. I’ve got my drawings done and reviewed, and made an alpha brush to use, and now have to make it. I’ve told the instructor NOT to print anything as I have absolutely no use for it and do not want them.

Other courses are ticking along pretty well. Mid-term marks will be posted three weeks from today!

I received an offer for the BA (Hons) Fine Art program (one year add-on for the degree) from a university in Ireland. I’ve until mid-April to accept to qualify for a reduced tuition (which is great as the exchange on Euros is currently $1.55). If I wait longer it goes up to the posted rate.

I had an online interview for a MA Fine Art program in the UK, but haven’t heard anything from them since. And the other school I applied to for their MA program hasn’t made contact other than to confirm my application (this school had pre-reviewed all my transcripts and portfolio BEFORE I applied.) The deadlines are in May I think, so I am early.

The vaccine rollouts have hit major delays with Pfizer stopping shipments, and other issues. This is frustrating as I am pretty sure I will need mine in order to travel in August/September. Initially I was supposed to be in the April-July group, but with the slowdown I have no idea if I will be able to get both shots required before leaving.


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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.