Shannon Fennell's Blog

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


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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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And just like that, January is over.

Tomorrow it is February.

Time sure flies when you’re having fun… or, let’s face it, just getting old. Wish I could go back to the time when waiting for something to happen took forever – like a kid waiting for Christmas.

It’s been a fairly hectic month for me. New semester started, back to the part-time job, rehearsals for Pride & Prejudice which I am doing the hair and make-up for, took an art/business workshop last Saturday, lots of medical appointments, participated in a monthly art challenge and have issues with my residence.

The show opened last night at the Oshawa Little Theatre. Really well done! Pride & Prejudice runs until February 15th. They had some fantastic photos from the other night from the photographer.

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Well into art projects now – first painting assignment is going well. I meant to take some work in progress photos yesterday but completely forgot. And just finished my first Fabrication project for the semester – a wooden box. I chose to go small (no surprise there).

Here is my tiny box. It’s only 1.5 inches square. It is made from a solid block of pine. I hand carved it… used a drill to hollow out most of the bottom, but was finished by hand. Then I used pyrography/wood burning. That was my first time using a wood burning tool and I loved it! I used a diluted cherry stain, then lined it with gold leaf. It is sealed with a matte finish. And, thankfully the sealer is encasing the campfire smell.

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I wanted to decorate it with some mystical symbols – I decided astrology symbols would work so I used four of my family signs – Pisces, Virgo, Cancer and Leo. They looked suitably arcane. Then did some decorative patterning on the lid and the sides.

I’m putting a tiny petrified dragon heart (it is really a small polished stone that looks like an anatomically correct heart) and a talon (from a large bird I think) in it… Because a small dragon was trapped in this box and all the burning is from them trying to escape, but an evil wizard put a spell on the box so the dragon died in there and all that is left is their hardened heart and one talon. Everything needs a back story… right?

The next project for Fabrication is an Assemblage. I’m going to be doing something with fabrics, needlework, fibre, etc. Talked it over with the instructor and he’s quite enthusiastic about it.

I sold one of my art challenge works – the little Sharpie cross-stitch Corgi got customized with a shark fin and got sent off to his new home.

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In the art challenge (I posted some things in the previous blog post already) I was having fun painting with Sharpies and alcohol. I’m on a sunset kick right now. Here are a series of mini paintings from the challenge – all are on 2 x 2 inch canvas boards.

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I completed all 31 days of the challenge too! I think this is only the second or third one that I managed to get through to the finish. Yay me!

Also decorated this little trinket box with Sharpies and Copic markers – just for fun.

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I took a workshop on Saturday with Tim Packer on “Key Concepts to Being a Successful Artist.” Really enjoyed it and got lots out of it. Basically… practise every day until you are producing great work, find your voice, love the process, love what you are producing and other people love the work and buy it. He gave us plenty of information and ways to do all of that. Now I need to apply it and work my ass off.

I’ll be talking with him tomorrow – getting a critique on my work and his feedback on what I need to work on to get where I want to go. I have not settled on a medium or technique – so it is a challenge to focus on the constant improvement of one particular style. I love watercolour (one of my favourites below) but also enjoy so many other things. I am looking forward to the critique.

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I was supposed to be having surgery on my left hand back on January 13th. I was in the operating room, on the table, with my hand stretched out on another table. When the surgeon came in I told him it had not been acting up since I had seen him months ago.  He examined it and said I didn’t need the surgery! I might still at some point, but it was great to not have it done!

I will be moving to another unit in the complex. I get the key on Sunday. Probably will take me a week to get it all done. It is in the building across the courtyard – I look out my window at it. Same floor plan, same room as I am in now. There is a problem with the space (not the roommates) and there is not an easy fix so they offered me another unit. So I took it. Just had to wait for them to do the cleaning and prep for a move-in. The room is identical and furnished, so the plan is to carry over things systematically and put them in the same place, so not having to pack. I’ve made my usual lists. Address change is just the unit number.

Check me out on Instagram as I post my art and other creations there much more regularly! Here’s the link shannonfennellartist

 


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2018 is a wrap

Another year has gone by at warp speed. And just like people say, time goes by faster the older you get. It really does.

It was a pretty packed year.

In January I started working towards a degree in Fine Arts. I am attending Durham College in the Fine Arts – Advanced program, and plan to finish my degree in Ireland. The Ontario Colleges have agreement with the Irish Schools where they accept the Ontario Diplomas for full credit, and I can finish an Honours BA in one additional year. That’s the plan I am working on.

I enjoy being a full-time student so much. I’ve always enjoyed school which explains why this will be my sixth – yes, SIXTH – post secondary diploma! I have used all of them in my career paths too. And the Fine Art one will be a great addition to my skill set.

I am working really hard to make sure I do the absolute best I can. I am on the College Honour Roll with a GPA of 4.94. I actually ended up with the exact same GPA in both semesters – in each, I had five A+ and one A. I know there are some that say the grades aren’t important, but they are when applying for scholarships, funding and programs at other schools!

This is some of my work this year – seven were school projects and the other two were not.

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I was approved for the College’s Student Employment programs and have been working in the Admission office since May. It is a great job as they are completely accommodating to class schedules and activities. In the summer I worked there full-time and during the school year part-time.

In May the family went on a Transatlantic cruise on the Disney Magic, from Miami to Barcelona. It was two weeks long and we were at sea for seven of those days. I was expecting to hit some heavy weather but it was amazingly calm the entire crossing! Even the captain said he’s never had such a calm crossing.

This photo I took from my balcony mid-ocean – like glass. And this was one of the cloudy days! I’ve been on cruises that caught the back end of a hurricane and still enjoyed them as I’m a good sailor as the motion doesn’t bother me at all, but this was amazing.

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I connected with Theatre On The Ridge in Port Perry and helped out with some shows over the summer working on props and wigs. I took on a project of re-purposing a red Chinese Dragon into a blue/green Lake Scugog Monster for one of their productions.

The original colours are in the first photo, then finished painting the parts, and finally the finished costume in use as the Lake Monster.

It was a fun project. I made hands, feet, created a whole mouth full of teeth, more horns for the head, there was copious amounts of flake glitter….

This year I continued to receive treatments on my eyes. Early in the year I had injections in my right eye, and in the Fall in my left eye. I really hope that at some point they will both stabilize so I can stop requiring the injections. I am doing everything I’ve been told needs to happen in order for it to “get better.” At least I don’t need the treatments every month to six weeks now, so I guess it is getting better – but it is taking so long! The vision issues do impact my work at times so it adds a fair amount of stress to my life.

In the make-up area there were workshops taught, face painting jobs, Halloween private clients and theatre. As I am concentrating on full-time school and a part-time job, I made a decision not to push hard to build-up my make-up business in my new location. Quite a change from the last two decades for me where a normal week consisted of 35 hours at the day job and up to 40 working for myself! I am still available, just not to the point of impacting on my school workload.

I’m incorporating my fine art and decorative arts into my business, in addition to the make-up/costume/prop building that I do. I am in the process of re-designing my website and social media to reflect this comprehensively.

It has been a great year overall and I am looking forward to 2019!

I’ve got a trip planned to Africa in May to Volunteer with an organization called VESA – Volunteer Eco Students Abroad. I’ll be visiting South Africa, Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) and Mozambique. I’ve been fundraising for that trip by selling original art greeting cards and have a fundraiser on Facebook which you can check out here.

The second year of my program starts Monday and I’m back to work at the college Wednesday. It’s been a long break and I want to get back at it.

I hope everyone had a great Christmas and all the best for the upcoming year!


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It is June… again

What happened to May? I don’t remember it happening. Time flies by so fast and it gets faster and faster as it goes by.

Remember when you were a kid and waiting three whole sleeps seemed like years and years? There will come a time when you really wish time would move that slowly again.

I’m sitting at home right now waiting for my eyes to clear (nice thing about computers is you can set the zoom to 200%.) Had injections in both this morning – they were leaking again.

I had originally been scheduled for an injection in my left eye for June 12 and lasers in my right on June 9.  I woke up Tuesday morning last week and had no focus ability in my right eye.  I had been at the eye doctor’s on the prior Thursday and everything was fine, by Tuesday had sprung a very bad leak.  So they bumped up my injection to the next available date, for both eyes.  No lasers now.

I asked the doctor about the prognosis – I was wondering if I needed to make long-term contingency plans for having minimal sight left or blindness at some point.  He assured me that as long as I am controlling my diabetes and blood pressure that eventually the treatments will eliminate the constant leaks and that in 80% of patients the injections stop and the sight is improved.  Just hope I am not one of the other 20%.

 

So, since I am keeping things under control everything should eventually stabilize.

It has been a nice Spring so far – warm and periodic rain.  Which means mowing the lawn every five to seven days.  Which is a pain.

My apple tree bloomed on ALL branches this year for the first time!  Each branch is a different variety.  It is called a 5-in-1 and all varieties are hardy to the climate up here. It is a dwarf stock so will stay small.  I pruned it quite well last Fall to keep it easy to reach.

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And lots of blossoms too. I did not see a single bee on it though, thankfully it was crawling with ants (and ladybugs) so they will have pollinated it. Should get lots of apples this year if the weather cooperates.

Plantings in the front are doing well too. I decided to cull out the Prairie Mallow as some of were massive and choking out other plants.  As I wanted to give the Hollyhocks a chance to colonize the west bed in front of the house I killed all but two of the Prairie Mallows. Yes, I am a horrible person.  But I let the Prairie Mallow keep the back corner of the backyard.

The perennials I planted last year (got from friends around town) are doing great!  Both clumps of day lilies started blooming this week, and two of the other things are growing well – still haven’t found out what they are called though.  My clematis plants are growing about a foot a day.

This was taken a week ago – the petunias are twice this size at least now. And I’ve been harvesting the herbs already; it is so nice to have a fresh herb omelette for breakfast!

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This is the final weekend of the last show of the season at Grande Prairie Live Theatre. It is the “family show” so the weekends are three matinees – two on Saturday and one on Sunday, and a Friday night show. “Robin Hood and the Heroes of Sherwood Forest” is the show.

Next weekend I will be face painting in Dawson Creek, and Summer season will officially be kicking into full gear. I was ordering supplies last night to restock the essentials. When I have a crew of 10 working we go through a lot of rainbow cakes!

 

 


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And Spamalot is a wrap!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are King Arthur and the Lady of the Lake.

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

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And these are all taken during the performances:

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

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


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Halloween is Coming – part four

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

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

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

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

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

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I love what I do!

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


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Opening tomorrow: Agatha Christie’s Cards on the Table… in shades of grey

Does that title sound like a bit of a mash-up?

It isn’t really… literally (in the literal sense of the word) the entire show is shades of grey – and black and white.

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The sets, the costumes, the make-up, the hair… shades of grey.

The photos are from dress rehearsal as the show opens tomorrow night.  I still need to tweak a few things – it is a process to get the make-up right and a challenge to have total and complete coverage.

Particularly when one of the actors reacted to the make-up and we had to figure out an alternative which isn’t perfect.

And colouring the hair with make-up on those who we don’t have wigs on and trying to cover the scalp so the natural skin doesn’t show through in the stage lights and make the hair look pink.

I’ve got a great crew to work with and we’ll get it right!

Here are some shots I took backstage:

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It is a little strange looking at the photos; they look photo-shopped.

Once we work out the kinks I’ll get more photos of the whole cast.

It’s a good show too!  Come and see it – tickets are available at GPLT 780-538-1616 or on the website.