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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Birds, and feathers

I’ve been painting  birds. There are seemingly infinite varieties of birds, with an infinite array of colour and appearance. I find their beauty fascinating and I really wanted to try to capture that.

As I lean towards realism I am trying very diligently to be as accurate as possible in how I portray the species that I am painting or drawing.

I am very lucky to know several photographers who take amazing wildlife photos, including birds, that have given permission to use their photos as my inspiration and reference images.

Some of my earlier work that featured birds include these drawings. First was done in many years ago (possibly in high school).

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Then a couple of small Micron pen drawings from a few years back of a chickadee and an Adélie Penguin.

The vultures were for a school assignment. The Turkey Vulture was a study in graphite as I was trying to find the right vulture for the assignment.

I settled on the African White Backed Vulture – who I drew wearing a gas mask because it was for an illustration. This was in Micron pen, with the watercolours added later.

Then most recently I was playing around with my new, high quality Derwent pencil crayons so found a bright coloured Finch to draw.

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I like to work small (I get bored easily!) With the exception of the foot, all of these are less than 8 x 10″.

I had to create a diptych (two related paintings) for an assignment, so I asked permission from my photographer friend, Marilyn Grubb at  Chipabirdee Images by Marilyn Grubb Photography & Digital Art to use some of her photos.

These are my two paintings based on her photos – a Mountain Bluebird and a Yellow Rumped Warbler. Both paintings are 8 x 10″ on stretched canvas.

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Below are detail close-ups of the two little birds.

As they were so small I didn’t get the feathers right on the Warbler – he has a LOT more wing feathers than I painted. Also… I think the Mountain Bluebird may have modelled for Angry Birds.

I decided to go bigger in my next bird painting. Again using one of Marilyn’s great photos as my reference. This is a Barred Owl, 20 x 24″ on stretched canvas. It took me 30 hours – most of that was spent on the feathers.

I took progress shots as I worked at the end of each painting session. First was after many layers of gesso to get a smooth surface and doing a rough sketch in a wash of acrylic paint. Second, I did an underpainting in burnt umber of the colour placement on the owl, and roughed in the background in bright colours, then I started adding the detail from the bottom up – I stopped after getting the tail feathers done as I was getting tired.

The next session I got most of the long wing feathers and the fence post done. Fourth session I managed to get the wings finished. The fifth session I finished the head, did tweeks on the whole owl, and painted in the background.

And, after my sixth session which involved adding some detail/depth, some colour washes on the background and cleaning up the edges, the finished piece.

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Below is Marilyn’s original photo that I used as my reference. I also checked on the internet for other images of a Barred Owl as I wasn’t sure if my colouring was going to be right but there is a lot of variation in the browns and how much/little there is in proportion to the white.

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I see things I wish I’d done differently (common problem with artists!) but overall I am pretty happy with this owl.

P.S. The birds paintings are for sale!