Shannon Fennell's Blog

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


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What I did on my vacation…

On my vacation last month crossing the Atlantic Ocean on the Disney Magic I wasn’t too ambitious, it was a vacation after all!

We spent a total of seven days at sea and the ports we stopped at were Ponta Delgada in the Azores and Lisbon both of which are in Portugal, and Cadiz, Malaga and Ibiza in Spain, we disembarked in Barcelona and were taken straight to the airport.

Other than accumulating as many character photos as I could (I explained that in my previous post here) I took it pretty easy. I saw a bunch of movies – Infinity War, Solo (the premier!) A Wrinkle in Time, Dr. Strange, Black Panther, Thor: Ragnarok, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and did some crafts and activities.

I went to several of the 3D craft sessions and made things – pre-printed paper and you cut it out and put it together.  One was Pascal from Rapunzel (I painted him with my watercolours) and another was a parrot I wore on Pirate Night (pinned him to my shoulder which worked pretty good – at least it did long enough for photos. He got a little floppy later!) Also built a VERY complicated paper Cinderella but never took a photo of her!

Played 80’s Music Trivia in one of the pubs teamed up with my sister and brother-in-law – we only missed one out of 50 (only thanks to Iain) but there were two teams with perfect scores.

Saw several live musical productions and shows – they were only 45 minutes each but very good. Their cast is very talented – obviously all the musicals were Disney themes!

Did some shopping on board – a couple of shirts and small things. I am not a big shopper on trips – my souvenirs from the ports were fridge magnets, some tea from the Azores (really nice tea) and a couple of postcards.

I did a few paintings and drawings. I had taken my pencils, ink liners, and watercolours. And did manage to do some work.

I went to the “Animation” drawing classes on board – they were fun BUT… the way they had us draw Stitch was wrong. My niece wasn’t impressed. The ears are wrong, the size and shapes are off… I tried to fix it later and coloured it, but it still doesn’t look like Stitch. I did it exactly as shown – so had no other reference at the time.

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I also drew several Disney characters on my own – Ed and Ursula were a couple of those.

As thank you gifts to our Concierge team I drew each of them and then added watercolour – they were all really pleased. I was too – turned out really nice in my own humble opinion!

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On Pirate Night they had fireworks at sea. It was a decent night to be out on the deck. I actually managed to get some decent shots, even with my little Sony Cybershot!

One day my brother-in-law booked us on a Galley tour which was interesting. It was actually a lot smaller than I thought it would be! There is one station with a dedicated chef for preparing food for people with allergies. I have to say they were extremely diligent about food allergies – they have your information on file and ALL the waiters would come and ask you questions. When you are seated in the restaurants – even at open seatings – they ask your cabin number and print off the notes they have on your dietary needs.

Deck 3 where two of the restaurants and most of the adult spaces (pub and clubs) had huge portholes – was fun to look out while waiting in lines! This is mid-Atlantic Ocean – just look at that sea! Like a mirror.

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I caught this little princess while we were in line for dinner.

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They also produced “deck dance parties” which were short shows on stage on deck with characters and extremely loud music. I only went to two – the first welcome one and the Pirate Night show. They also showed movies on that jumbo screen – mostly classic Disney and the newer Pixar stuff.

It was a very relaxing trip.

I will post about the port visits in my next blog – lots more photos to share!

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Making a Serpopard

Bet you are asking… What’s a Serpopard?

I didn’t know myself until about a month ago.  I was getting a bit of a head start on my final 3D Studio project by googling “mythological creatures” as we had to do a large sculpture – had to be four-legged and a “real” creature from any culture’s mythology.

I was looking for something unusual that would fit the parameters and a Serpopard or Serppard image came up in a search.  I thought that was pretty interesting. The image has been found in Ancient Egyptian artifacts and in Mesopotamia of a big cat and snake combination creature – long snake neck and lion or leopard head and body, with some variations in design among the images found.

There were photos of the artifacts and other ancient depictions, and also quite a few artists’ renderings on Deviant Art and other places too.

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According to what I read, experts aren’t sure exactly what it was meant for – the representations are old and there is no explanation accompanying them, so it is guesswork about the purpose of the creature.

I did some sketches to figure out my version and roughed-out the structure of the armature. It was to be done using Sculpey which is a polymer clay that you bake in the oven.

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I used steel wire to make a basic structure then wrapped it with about an entire roll of aluminium foil to bulk it up and get the basic shape built. It needed to be pretty close to actual size and shape as you don’t want to have very thick and/or uneven coverage of the clay. Optimum is about 1/4 inch thick.

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I started to think about how to do the details – I wanted to make scales. I looked at photos of cobras (very Egyptian!) and their scales look just like sunflower seeds! So I bought a bag of sunflower seeds and sorted through the entire bag, I looked at EVERY seed, to find the perfect one.  Then I made a mold by pressing it into a disk of air-drying clay. All my scales would now be perfectly uniform and the proper profile.

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When I was ready to sculpt I started with the basic creature shape getting the profile right and building up muscle. Then I did the leopard head. For the ears, to make sure I didn’t break them off later, I used small bits of flexible metal mesh, made them the exact shape I wanted then covered with a thin layer of clay.

Then I carried on with attaching the scales, ONE AT A TIME. It looked awesome and just like cobra scales! I did the initial patch on the back… later I went back and added more to chest, and patches on the tail and neck.

I also wanted to build the Ancient Egyptian jewelry separately and attach it to the finished animal, so that it looked worn instead of a solid part of the sculpture. I went and bought coloured Sculpey – turquoise, red, gold, blue and black.

I used the flexible metal mesh to build the collar and head-dress – they needed the interior structure and had to support the weight of the clay. One piece of mesh cut and then folded and/or twisted into shape that was then covered with the gold clay very thinly. Then I rolled and cut all the teeny tiny rectangles in the coloured clay to inlay, and create the designs. Oy, I do like to make things difficult for myself! I also used real beads and one small lapis disc to make a scarab on the collar.

I was using King Tut’s mask as my inspiration so… I wanted to do the crown of the combined kingdoms which has the Vulture and the Cobra on it.  Teeny tiny little Vulture and Cobra heads, on the forehead of the Serpopard. So I twisted up some craft wire as they needed to be reinforced to prevent breaking off later, then covered and shaped them.  My hands are not designed to work on this small a scale! But, I think they turned out pretty cool!

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I had bought a board to use as a base for it, so I rolled out all my leftover gold clay, and enough of the flesh coloured to fill the board. It looks quite cool, like sand, so I left it as is and didn’t paint it.

I attached the jewelry and checked it over for flaws, mounted on the board and then into the oven to bake!

I spent about 3 hours building the armature at home, 11 hours plus on it at school, then brought it home again and spent 16 more hours on it which included the baking time. After it cooled (and I ate dinner) I started the painting. I did a double layer of white as a primer over the creature’s body, and then mixed up a cat body colour base and a base colour for the scales and applied them. That was all I managed before heading to bed.

I had to take it back to school and finish the painting there, and handed it in after spending almost 4 more hours doing the final painting. It was graded (don’t know what I got yet) and I did the paperwork to enter it in the end of year Juried Art Show, and left it with the instructor.

I’m really REALLY pleased with how it turned out and I put it in the show marked For Sale.

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End of term is looming

Hard to believe that my first semester at college is over next Friday. It really went by fast!

I’ve only two works in progress left, everything else has been completed and/or already handed in and marked.

I completed my film editing yesterday for my Fundamentals of Video/Audio Production final project, and submitted it. We will view them in class on Monday, and be given a final quiz.  I will share it on my Facebook page once it has “premiered” in class! I am hoping for laughs… oh god, please be funny.

I finished all my Sociology course assignments ahead of time and it has all been marked, so I am just attending the last couple of classes to get the “participation” marks.

I’ve got everything finished for Digital Drawing. Final project is complete, printed and ready to present next Friday – this Friday I’ll be twiddling my thumbs, I guess, as I have it all done and the class was to be a work period. I will probably spend some time using Photoshop on work from my other classes and tweaking some images.

In 3D Studio Practice we are doing our final large sculpture and have 10 hours of class left to work on it. I am well ahead on my build and will start on fine details tomorrow. We are working in polymer clay so have to bake it when done, and then paint it, to have ready for the last Friday for marks. Last week we handed in our recycled book project and are waiting for the grades to be posted.

This was my “Exquisite Corpse” small sculpture – it is 4.5″ tall, for 3D Studio. It was drawn in three parts, by three different people who didn’t know what the others drew. I had to sculpt it by interpreting the drawing – it had to stand on its own. Luckily mine was pretty easy, lots of students ended up with mermaid tails or tentacles!

Edited final

This was also for 3D Studio – a relief mask sculpture of another student. This was done in an air-drying clay.

This is the one Taylor did of me…

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We traded – no point in keeping one of someone else!

We handed in our Portfolios today in Presentations & Portfolio Techniques, and our final project is due next Tuesday – a detailed drawing of footwear. I’m about 1/4 of the way on mine so will be working on it over the weekend.

In Presentation & Portfolio I did these two drawings for Projects 1 & 2. The first is a vulture wearing a gas mask – I altered the image (took out lettering) after marking. And the second was to draw our own hand holding something – I call it “I miss the Rain”(let me know if you get the reference!) These were both done in liners and water-colours.

We had to do hand studies before starting the hand… I really like the little red pinky finger! I did it all in pencil crayon (three colours) and I think I might finally be getting the hang of it.

We had our last class of Drawing II (Figurative) yesterday. I am sad about that, it was so much fun.

These are a few of my more recent sketches from Figure Drawing. The first is a two-minute sketch, the colour one is 20 minutes, and the group is of 30 second drawings.

I did this landscape while sitting in the hall between classes – was working on erosion and trying different colours in pencil crayons (still working on my technique with them.) My favourite is the big ridge in the back, I think I nailed that one.

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I am in the process of looking for a summer job – I’m able to apply for full-time summer jobs at the college and so far have four interviews out of ten applications (three were already filled, three I haven’t heard back from.) That makes me hopeful. I’m still applying for pretty much everything that I see as I need to work!

I’ll be back to school in September to finish my second semester of the program I am in, which is actually the first semester of the program. I was a January intake so I did semester two first so I’ll be with a new batch of students in the Fall.

I am really thrilled that I have been able to go back to school to study art! And, being mature, I value the opportunity and haven’t missed a class or assignment! Those marks are really important – I could get a scholarship to help with the costs to go on to more advanced arts education!

 

 


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Midterm Marks are in… Mom would have been proud.

I am really enjoying my art courses at college and am doing really well! Midterm marks were released this past week and I have five A+ and one A-. My overall average is 94%. My sister wants to know what happened to the other 6%. Um, well…

There are only six more weeks to go in the semester and there are a lot of projects required for final marks. In one class the current project is worth 50% of the entire grade and takes up the rest of the course. My Sociology class final research paper is worth 25% of the final grade. And the four other courses have major projects that are a bit less of the overall marks, but still need to be done well.

I completed one final project today – a presentation for my Figure Drawing course, so I don’t get jammed at the end. They are all due in April, so getting a head start is important.

Time management is a big deal and luckily I am pretty good at it.

Here are some gesture drawings from my Figure Drawing class with live models.

I find I can do these very quickly, and the 10 minute drawings are about as long as it takes. When we have 20 minutes or longer I get fussy and overwork things. All a learning process. Last week we worked on foreshortening. That is challenging.

In my 3D Studio class I am working on a small sculpture – an “exquisite corpse” which is something designed by three people – I drew the head, then it got passed around the class with two other people drawing the middle, and the legs. No one saw what the others drew. We had to build the armature for it, and then fill in with wire mesh and aluminium foil, so that the clay is a very thin covering. I actually got lucky with my end design, some of the others have real challenges to make their sculptures stand in a stable manner, which is one of the main goals of this project.

We have two more big projects after this in 3D Studio.  I really enjoy this class and will miss it. Once I start taking the Fabrication classes in semesters three through six, I can get back into building!

In our Presentation & Portfolio class our final project is to produce a portfolio – I’ve got to PROPERLY photograph the work I want to include. I probably have more to chose from than a lot of the students, but… some of the work I no longer actually have and the photos aren’t suitable. So… will have to pick things that are able to be done properly, and that were created within the last year. The fact that I have to do the photography is challenging. The instructor said something about “booking the studio”… I’m going to try to rig up something at home and see how it works.

For my Digital Drawing class we are supposed to have an online “sketchbook” of all the work done from rough ideas to finished piece – it isn’t necessary to post until the end of the semester for the instructor to review. I am really not a digital person and the work I have so far produced is basic. I did get a good grade but it was very stressful for me.

This was the Landscape I created for one assignment in Digital Drawing. I did it in Paint 3D. I was mid-pack as far as finished printed copy for class critique. I am hampered in that I started this program on the second semester, so don’t have the courses in digital programs that were taught in the first semester – I’ll be taking those in September.

Fennell Landscape

But, I got through it so far. Next project I should not have an issue with as it is not necessary to be digitized!

 

 

 


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I’m officially a starving art student… well, not really starving but…

Classes started on Monday for my first semester studying Art & Design. A full-time student for the first time since 1984!

My first class Monday morning was Figure Drawing which I really enjoyed. I actually impressed myself – it has been a very long time since I did the fast sketching/gesture drawings. Our instructor posed for one 10 minute drawing, then put up photos for the rest of the time.  I ended up with seven drawings which I am keeping to compare progress.  Starting next week we will have live models.  That will be a first for me.  We can use whatever medium we wish too.  I used pencils and charcoal this time – I like the charcoal.  I may try pastels next week.

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My afternoon class was Fundamentals of Digital Audio Visual Production.  On a Mac – I’ve never used a Mac, or any Apple product for that matter.  On top of that, the program we have to use is Adobe Premier Pro… teeny tiny white text on black background that doesn’t seem to be able to be sized to be legible.  I was completely lost.

I went and introduced myself to the instructor before class started (I’m the only January intake in my timetable group) and explained I have no idea about any of this topic.  He was very nice and helpful, and he tried to adjust the font size/magnification but in that program it wouldn’t work. I couldn’t see the monitor at all well and the lag time to focus on the overhead screen, then back to the desktop with my glasses which weren’t strong enough to help with the exceptionally tiny font… very frustrating and actually painful to my eyes.  I have an eye appointment next week – probably for another injection which might help.

I’m checking out the college services for “accommodation” for this vision/computer issue.  Hopefully there is someway they can help with that. I can go into the computer lab to go over things when there is available space and another student suggested I sit with them and they can help me with it, which is sweet.

Today’s class was Presentation and Portfolio Techniques. Which looks like lots of fun – much of what is being covered has to do with marketing and promotion which I do have experience in.  Will also be producing art and critiquing it to learn how to assess our own work. We had to brainstorm a specific idea, then create thumbnails to a set size/shape – homework is to complete the project and post photos… we have to carve the design on a banana.  Basically, this weekend I will be tattooing a banana with a design incorporating my name. Who knew fruit would come into it so soon? I’ll have to be careful – Brian likes bananas. Wonder if “the dog ate my homework” works in college?

Tomorrow is 3D Art & Design in the studio, and in the afternoon I have my general education elective of Introduction to Sociology.  Friday is Digital Drawing in the morning – and I fervently hope I don’t have the same issues with the computer screen – and the second class in 3D Art & Design (there are 5 hours a week total in the studio for that) in the afternoon.

Our supplies are included with our tuition! I was not aware of that so when I attended the program orientation last week I was stunned! We just had time to stash it all in our locker so on Monday I went in early to play, I mean, sort out, my supplies. I labelled it all and took home the small stuff to open and sort into containers. I have two lockers – I had rented a regular one online for myself, then at the program orientation last week we had to rent an art locker to hold our supplies and work. I kept the one I’d already rented and am glad I have it. It is where I stash my coat and non-art things. They are pretty close to each other and right next to the classrooms I will be in for five of my classes. So that’s convenient.

FAD Kit

Everything is online – you have to check your email constantly, check for class updates, get the assignments online, submit the completed work online, communicate online… bleh. This is overload to a borderline Luddite. People keep referring to apps to download to use for class or projects, um… no? And ALL the other students have their phones in front if their faces all the time! Walking the halls is like fighting off zombies – they walk right into you and block the hallway in packs.

I’ve spent time each day roaming around, trying new routes to places, seeing if I can find shortcuts, etc. I can find the main Tim Horton’s that takes the Tim card (the other little ones don’t take it), the computer services area, the security desk and several washrooms. I know where all my classrooms are and today realized there is a more direct route into the complex I need to end up in than I’ve been taking (which was through another building, then a courtyard.)

So far I’ve been getting a decent parking spot. Today was in the extreme far corner but it was a short walk to the path I take through campus. I’ve also been taking different routes to drive there and home again.  I think I’ve got figured out – left, right, left, right and I’m there. It is a 30 minute drive but on good roads – with one roundabout!  There are several alternate routes if I need them too. Luckily the days are getting longer rapidly so it is fairly light out for the drives.

So far a good week!

 


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I’m going back to school!

I am very excited to be starting college in January as a full-time student! A “freshman” … which is pretty funny at my age. I am expecting to be taken for 1) faculty or admin, 2) someone’s mother, or 3) someone’s grandmother, when I attend the First Year Orientation on Saturday.

Yesterday I got my timetable – had to wait until 3 p.m. on December 11 in order to sign-up on the internet and get it all confirmed.  The semester starts on January 22 and I have classes on Mondays (2), Tuesdays (1), Wednesdays (2) and Fridays (2).

Bought a parking pass last week which I will pick-up on Saturday. The college is about a half-hour drive from home in moving traffic.  Transit is approximately 1.5 hours each way… even though I get a free transit pass with my tuition, three hours on a bus carrying stuff isn’t my idea of fun in the winter!  My brother-in-law put it this way when I mentioned the cost of a parking pass vs. free transit pass… “Don’t be a moron.”

The program I am taking is called “Foundations in Art & Design” and is a one-year certificate, and I can then transfer directly into the Fine Arts – Advanced program at year two.

I’m starting from the beginning with the Fine Art education – I’m a lifetime artist but did not do any formal (accredited) training after high school. I’ve taken classes and workshops all my life in various media and techniques and never stopped making art in some way. This program covers things I need to know for the modern art world such as preparing a portfolio, digital drawing, audio & video production,  photography, as well as the usual drawing, painting, sculpting, etc.

I am fortunate to be in a position to be able to do this at this time of my life. When I graduated from high school I chose to go the route of a career that guaranteed a paying job – art wasn’t something you took to do that. I couldn’t see spending money on an art degree when it wouldn’t get me a job. I was very pragmatic but still ended up doing work I really enjoyed regardless.

People would tell me, when seeing my work as a kid and teen, you should go into graphic design, etc. But I knew I wouldn’t enjoy it – I had to be in the mood to produce good things. Over the years I’ve learned that practise makes perfect, or at least something I can be happy with, even if I am not completely in the mood.

I am really looking forward to the studio work – Figure Drawing and 3D Art & Design are this semester. The computer/digital work is going to be a bit of a challenge as I am borderline Luddite but I will give it the old college try!

This is a painting I did in September – I took a watercolour class at the Centre for Creative Arts a year or so back, and discovered I really enjoy it. This is “Ketchikan Sunset” and is from a photo my brother-in-law took on their Alaskan cruise.  I played around with figuring out how to make the sky work and am very proud of how it turned out.

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I hope we will be covering watercolours in the studio work!

 

 

 


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30 Paintings in 30 Days

I decided to participate in a 30 Paintings in 30 Days challenge. Seemed like a great opportunity to practise my watercolour painting. A friend who is a professional artist in New Jersey put me onto it last week so I figured, why not?

30 Paintings In 30 Days Challenge is posted on a blog where you can “register” to participate if you want to be officially doing it. You post your daily art on the blog for each day by linking to your work. I’ve been posting to my Shannon Fennell Art Facebook page and linking to that.

Everyday in the month of September I will be posting a new painting.  Today is Day 7 – and I’ve managed to post all seven!  Yay!

As I am still learning watercolour techniques some paintings are more doodles where I play around with the paint trying things.  Others are turning out pretty cool!

I started to learn watercolour painting just over a year ago by taking a class at the Centre for Creative Art and loved it. Since then the classes haven’t been offered at a time I can attend so I have some books and use the internet to learn things. I’ve had spurts of painting and playing around with it but this is a good reason to make myself do something every day and get better at it.

For some of my paintings I have used alcohol markers to draw parts of the design then used the watercolours on top. I love that!

Here are my first seven paintings in order by day.

September 1st.

Sep 1 17

September 2nd.

Sep 2 17

September 3rd.

Sept 3 17

September 4th. “Ketchikan Sunset” from a photo by my brother-in-law taken on the cruise they were on  last week.

Sept 4 17

September 5th. “Coneflowers” inspired by a photo image by Chipabirdee Images by Marilyn Grubb.

Sept 5 17

September 6th.  “Moai”

Sept 6 17

And today, September 7th.

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I have determined that some paints are much better than others – I picked up a palette of hard cakes which are very opaque and don’t make very good washes. The tubes of paint are much brighter and translucent. And I love that I can sit down and paint something without having to set-up an easel and make a mess to clean up, and it is a fast process as well.

I’m having fun!