Shannon Fennell's Blog

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


2 Comments

May Day

It is the first of May! Wow… that was a fast first four months 2019.

With college done for the summer I am looking for a summer job. I’ve been making the rounds, scouring the job postings, dropping off/emailing off applications, had appointments at some agencies about temp work.  It is a bit frustrating at the moment as I leave on my volunteer trip to Africa in two weeks so won’t be able to work a long term assignment or start work on a full or part-time job until I get back. I was hoping to have been able to get some day-to-day or week temp assignments but it took some time to get processed at the agencies. I might still get something temp before I go – fingers crossed.

I carry resumes with me and if a business has a help wanted sign out, I stop in to apply. I have experience in administration, retail, food service, event organization, volunteer management, amongst other things.

There have been several positions that are for the summer only that start after I get back from Africa, so have applied to all of those when I find them.

Ideally, I was looking for an official “Summer Job” in an Arts organization but all of those positions have age restrictions – you have to be between 18-30 years and returning to school in the Fall. I call that age discrimination. I am a full-time student that wants to get experience in the field I want to work in. I still sent off applications, but had to disclose I was over age 30.

There have been several jobs that I have found in my searches that would be ideal – if I was looking for full-time permanent work! If only I was at the end of my program rather than the middle of it. But that’s the way the world works so much of the time.

So enough about that – unless you have a lead on something?! I’m game for anything in Durham Region, Ontario.

The Annual Student Juried Art Show gets installed next week at the Station Gallery in Whitby. I will have three pieces in it. I was at the College on Monday getting them framed/mounted and wrapped for transportation. I shared photos of them in my last post. It will be open before I leave on my trip so I will be able to actually go and see them this time. Last year I was away the entire time of the show and don’t have any photos of the display.

My last Drawing project got tweaked after I posted in my last entry – the professor critiqued it at the beginning of class so I took her suggestions. She said a hard line of the black in the halo would make the detail of the food crown pop more, and that the rays needed black for balance. Here is the before and after – she was right. It was hard painting over the gold leaf though – emotionally, not physically!

Another project I’ve been working on wasn’t a class project, but was at the college. The First Peoples Indigenous Centre has all sorts of craft workshops and you can drop in to work on them when you can. I noticed a sign on the door back in March about the beading workshop. So once I was finished with my Work/Study employment for the term I stopped in. I learned flat beading and how to wrap a cord to make a necklace.

Beading is extremely time consuming! I spent, I estimate, between 50-60 hours on this. I’m very pleased with it given it was the first time doing these techniques. It isn’t perfect but I will wear it proudly! And I have lots of plans to incorporate beadwork in future art projects.

DSC00040 (2)

My fingers are full of tiny holes from pushing the beading needles through leather and cord, but they were such tiny holes I only really bled once…  Next time, I will use thimbles.

I will get back to the job search now – have a list of sites to check out and see what new postings have been added overnight to the usual places I check. Tomorrow I will again go out in person to hunt – I do it by area, for example a large mall, or strip malls in a row – so I park in one spot and walk around.

Advertisements


Leave a comment

Final Project for Contemporary Drawing

The final assignment in my Drawing 4 – Contemporary Drawing class was “We are what we eat – a self-portrait.” We had to incorporate food into a self-portrait.

Portraits are NOT my thing, definitely not self-portraits. But I have a lot to say about food!

Food is a huge issue as I am a type 2 diabetic and strictly follow a low-carb/protein emphasis diet to control it. I have managed it so well that I am off medication and have completely “normal” blood sugar – normal meaning, my levels are considered “non-diabetic.” If I had known earlier in life that sugar and carbohydrates were so damaging I could have cut them out decades ago and avoided the mess I am in now. So… yeah, I have strong opinions on food.

I wanted to incorporate my food choices into my design. We do brainstorming to get our ideas sorted out and our professor checks us on each stage of the process.  I did a quick written list of ideas while in the middle of the last project as we were still heavily involved in it.

DSC07942

Professor needed more descriptive written ideas or thumbnails, so once I was done with what I was doing, I did some really fast thumbnails. At the time I was partial to “my relationship with food” hence the conversation with the cow sketch! But, professor wasn’t impressed.  She zoomed in on the food crown/Byzantion Icon idea. 

 

I started out to do a detailed thumbnail working on the food crown idea… but it went so well, I actually used it in my final project instead of re-doing it. Micron pen drawing and coloured with pencil crayons. Did stippling with the microns for shading. The foods I drew in the crown and collar are what I eat. I included pretty much everything, or examples like the unidentifiable fish, of what my LCPE diet consists of.DSC07904

Then I rough sketched out how I wanted to work it into the look of a Byzantine icon. I was also thinking of doing it as an Incan crown or even Ukrainian and Russian crown/headdresses. I googled a lot of reference images before deciding to stick with the Byzantine icon style for the finished work. The food crown looked very like the Ukrainian headdresses without me having looked at an image at the time I drew it.

 

Then… the worst part of the whole thing… self-portrait. In the assignment she wanted us to use a mirror, but no. Not happening. I would have to change my glasses constantly, and it wouldn’t work. We were allowed to “refer” to photos… so I used a headshot I had from a couple years ago. I sketched it out in pencil and then used microns to do a really basic outline drawing of the head and features. I then used watercolours – did an underlay of grey shading, then went over with a muted flesh colour and some pink in the cheeks, and of course, tried to get my eye colour right. I wasn’t trying for a hyper-real look or solid colour – this is in the style of a very old painting so the colour is very faded looking.  I had thought about trying to do it in the style of the old icons but that was beyond my confidence – it was stressful enough trying to make myself look like me without trying to stylize it and make it still be recognizable as me.

Then I got a large sheet of heavy watercolour paper to be my base. I traced a large circle (used my trash can!) that was larger than my food crown, traced in the shape of my head and painted in the halo, leaving the white space for my face to fit in.  Then I used my large ruler to outline the “rays” out of the halo and painted them black, and filled in with red in a splotchy wash. I created texture using black acrylic paint in a small squeeze bottle to outline the halo and rays – it is essentially the same as piping icing and stays the shape you squeeze it out in. Then using Mod Podge I added goldleaf over the black. It is deliberately blotchy to look try to look aged like so many of the icons that are still around.

 

The rest of the project was assembling it. I use Mod Podge – it is my version of Frank’s Hot Sauce! I put that ***t on everything! I used it to attach everything, then sealed it all with a couple more coats.

After it was all assembled and touch-ups done, I removed the tape and trimmed the edges. Final dimensions are almost 12″ x almost 18″. I could crop to make it almost 12″ by 16″ if I needed to, but I’ll just leave it for now.

I showed it to friends and one dubbed it “Saint Shannon”… that had never crossed my mind during this whole process! Damn… not really what I was going for. Oh well… Now I’m thinking I should add in a hand waving a blessing! A low carb blessing.

DSC07935


Leave a comment

Last week of this semester!

Just finishing up my third semester in my Fine Arts – Advanced program! Actually, the semester isn’t over until this Thursday, April 18th, but I’ve finished all assignments, projects, papers and tests. Only have one drawing to hand in on Tuesday which I finished yesterday.

I admit to being hyper-organized: I plan out my time to complete everything based on course descriptions. Anything that I can do in advance gets done to allow time towards the end of term to work on the art projects which consume massive amounts of time! Particularly as I tend to take them a couple steps beyond the stated requirements.

The Coral Reef installation that I blogged about last post got tweeted out by the College President last week! We are super stoked.

2019TwitterDCPres

We chose such a good location for this, lots of comments on the “guest book” that is mounted beside it and we always see people taking photos of it as we walk by.

Our first paintings of the semester in Painting Studio class are now on display in the college. Mine is the “Blood Moon” with the ghost ship. These will probably stay up for a couple semesters – based on the previous displays.

The submission forms for the Annual Juried Student Art show were handed out last week. We can submit up to three pieces each, created within the last year. Last show I entered my Serpopard sculpture. This year I am entering a painting and two multi-media pieces.

I’ve mentioned before how I am not sure I have a style… I am beginning to think the multi-media thing is it.

I have a tendency to use materials at hand to embellish my work, regardless of the medium/technique the assignments call for. I’ve got decades of experience in creating props, costumes, accessories, wearable art and competitive body painting. Doing those projects involves building embellishments using recycled material, odd items that I have lying around and repurposing previous work. In the ladder collage I used old watercolour paintings and pencil crayon drawings from other projects, as well as work specifically done to use in it.

I used a lot of materials and techniques in my projects and have had to explain to some of my studio instructors what I am doing. I’ve used acrylic paint in a small squeeze bottle to create dimensional textures on flat work; used dryer sheets to create 3D items in a form of cloth-mâché; paper tole work in multi-media pieces; I’m always using Mod Podge for various purposes; and even applying gold leaf. I’ve even used make-up because I had a rocking metallic colour pigment that I couldn’t find in artist brand paints!

This photo shows what paper tole work is. You cut out multiples of the same image, and then layer them with spacers (I recycled heavy card stock from another class project for that in this one!) When you get to the height you want, you then start to cut out sections that you want to add more dimension to. In this I cut out the wing, the legs/feet and eye, to create another level of depth. It is fun, but extremely tedious! Hand cramping is always involved.

DSC07268 (2)

I find it satisfying to use what I have on hand and make things in a different way than expected.

In my final drawing project I have, again, gone multi-media. That will be my next post as I haven’t handed it in yet.


2 Comments

Latest work – “Under Threat”

The latest assignment in our Drawing 4 class was a group project for a site specific work. Our professor put us into groups. She specifically chose to put certain people together so it wasn’t random at all. We had to go find a location at the school where we would put up our work, and then design something.

We all had to do rough ideas separately, then pool them and choose what we wanted to do. We had actually all enthusiastically decided on one idea but the professor was a flat “no” on it. Her reason was that we were all excellent drawers and that idea was not going to showcase anything about our abilities.

So we went with Plan B. Which was a sketch of a coral reef. It actually worked out really well as we divided up the creatures between us and worked on them separately.

This is the write-up posted by the installation:

DSC07886 (2)

Valentina did the Sea Turtle, Puffer Fish, Giant Clam, Clown Fish and the schools of small fish; Zoe did the Angel Fish, Manta Ray, Dolphin, and two large reef fish; I did the Reef Shark, Eel, Anemones, all the corals and rocks, and the small reef dwellers (Blue Ringed Octopus, Blue Shell Crab, Snail, Peacock Mantis Shrimp, Sea Cucumber, and Starfish.) I also made the seaweed on the sides and the large fern coral that weren’t drawn, and added the pearl to the crab. We made a mobile out of the small fish to hang up as well.

We are VERY happy with how it all came together. And we choose a great spot in an alcove where it is highly visible to people – right across from the main Tim Horton’s!  I keep finding people taking photos of it and with it when I stop for my morning coffee, which is cool!

This photo was right after we finished installing everything.

55935281_341303416494303_4164406049752743936_n (2)

We mounted all the larger items with 3M picture hangers (the velcro ones) and used glue dots to attach others on top of already mounted drawings. They are holding up pretty well. Some of the smaller fish were put up with painter’s tape – hopefully they all hold on. We are leaving them up as long as possible but they have to come down by April 18th which is the last day of term.

Two days after we installed it my starfish was gone… probably got swept up by the custodians. He was on the bottom sort of hanging partially over the baseboard.

This I took after the starfish disappeared… someone stuck a quarter behind the big blue reef fish… hilarious! I left it there.

DSC07894 (2)

Here are some of my work in progress shots. We all worked at home and together in class as well.

The amount of time spent on this project was massive.  The eel alone took me around 13 hours. Everything I did was sketched out, then drawn with micron pens and then coloured with watercolour paints. Then, cut out and mounted on heavier paper or cardboard so it wouldn’t curl when we mounted them.

The items I made that weren’t drawn – the seaweed and the large fern coral, took a bit of time as well. I made the seaweed out of sheer ribbon, wire and Modpodge. The fern coral was plastic fern (I stripped three picks I bought at Dollarama) mounted on corrugated cardboard semi-circles I cut out, in three layers. It looks pretty authentic and added some needed volume to the reef.

I basically volunteered to do the coral… not sure why I thought it would be “easy.” I know better now.

Here are detail shots of my specific pieces in the final display…

All three of us are completely thrilled with how it turned out. We did have other ideas that we were going to incorporate but as we started the installation we scrapped them. Originally we were planning to mount blue cellophane across the front of the alcove to give the impression of underwater viewing…. but that would have muted the colours a lot. And once we saw it all up we decided we did not need to add it.


Leave a comment

Progression

As usual, the year is progressing quickly. I am scared to think about how fast time will pass in a few more years! Truly, as you get older it just whips by and soon I will be afraid to sleep for worrying about waking up to find a week has passed!

I completed the first year of my art program in December, and have transferred into the three-year Fine Arts – Advanced program as of January. I received my certificate for the one-year Foundations in Art and Design program from the college last month. I wasn’t expecting to just be told to go and get it from the information desk. I thought I would get it at Convocation in June.

I made the College Honour Roll for both semesters, and the President’s Honour Roll for the year.

Foundations Certificate edited

Things are ticking along for Year Two. Mid-term marks came out last week and I’m happy with my 98.2% average.

I’ve been working on school projects, personal stuff AND have commissions! Very excited for the commissions.

This is a personal project I’ve just finished up. I suppose it is multi-media as it isn’t normal paint – I used up a lot of old nail polish! It consists of eight 5″ x 5″ mini-canvases, that I’ve mounted together on a board for display. The smell lasted for weeks but finally has dissipated. I also managed to get a massive blister in the palm of my hand screwing it all together yesterday. Due to the reflective qualities of the nail polish it was difficult to get a photo that shows it as it actually looks. But it is pretty cool.

DSC07759

This drawing was actually done for one of my General Education electives! The course is called “Making Monsters” and explores how and why we create monsters, the use of propaganda, dehumanization, etc. It is a really fascinating and fun course. The assignment was to create a monster that expresses our own fears – and we had the option to write or illustrate. Of course, being an art student I chose to draw my monster!

Shannon Fennell - My Monster Illustration-page-001

We live right next to a nuclear power plant… so my fear is based on that!

I’ve got a few more school projects completed but haven’t yet photographed them. Plan to do that this week – just have to remember to take my camera.

The latest completed project in Painting is a multi-canvas piece. I did a “quadtych” – so four canvasses that fit together to make an image. And we started on a 2′ x 2′ glass painting last week.

In Drawing I finished a multi-media creation that had to incorporate multiple techniques – drawing, rubbing, impressions, collage, etc. We had to use the theme of “Ladder” for it. I called mine the “Evolutionary Ladder” and drew a rope ladder and DNA strands, among other things.

Last Tuesday all the Fine Arts program years went on a field trip to the AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario) in Toronto. The big exhibit on right now is “Impressionism in the Age of Industry: Monet, Pissarro and More.” I love Impressionism and was very excited about this being open for our trip. There was one Van Gogh, lots of Luce, and also Degas, Cassatt, Seurat and Caillebotte.  Here are some photos I took of the DETAILS – the brushwork fascinates me.

I’m still sorting out all the photos I took to properly label the artists! I got carried away.


Leave a comment

Paintings

This term I’m in Painting 4 (I jumped over Painting 3, which I’ll be taking in September) and am having a great time.

First painting of the term is complete. We voted in class on the theme and it was a mash-up of Space and Ocean, and all the paintings are 24×24″. I did a ghost ship sailing into the blood moon which was inspired by the lunar eclipse a couple of weeks ago. I’m really pleased with it.

DSC07616 (2)

All of the paintings from this year two project will be up in a gallery space in the College. Probably most of this calendar year based on how long the current paintings have been up. I will be getting photos of it on display! Hope to be able to get some as we are hanging them too.

This week we start the next project which is a diptych at a minimum. We can do as many canvasses as we want up to 52″ square per canvas. We are stretching our own and the stretcher bars available go from 20″ up to 52″ so we can pick our dimensions.

I’ve been scribbling down ideas for it and doing some research for images. I think I have a pretty good idea – I’ll see what the professor thinks in class on Thursday.

I am really not a fan of painting big canvases – not because they scare me, but I have no where to put them. I could just abandon them at school, like so many past students have, I suppose. But when I put an effort into something I like to know it is being appreciated somewhere! Leaving it behind seems almost like abandoning a child.

I finally finished my big painting started in 2D Art & Design last semester. I went in early on Friday and spent four hours working on it in the studio. I think it is done now. It is based on a photograph I took on my trip to Morocco in 2017. I settled on 20×38″ – that was as big as I wanted to get – I have a place to hang it, I hope. I measured and it should work. I’ll have to move some smaller works somewhere else, but that is easy.

DSC07622 (2)

I’m not sure if I’m developing a style of my own. I don’t feel like I am. But I’ve always had a hard time seeing it in my own work. People would always comment on my style in face and body painting, which I didn’t see.  I would ask them to describe it to me! I can look back at my work and see it now, in retrospect, but I don’t necessarily see it while I’m actively doing it.

I hope to figure out what my style is by the end of this term.  Every time I start a painting that I intend to do in say, impressionist style for example, I suddenly realize while I’m painting that I swerved away from that intent. So, I probably DO have a style I guess. I just don’t know what it is yet!

 

 


2 Comments

My first project for Contemporary Drawing class

So far this semester I’ve got one drawing assignment completed, one painting in progress, and a bunch of personal projects on the go.

In Contemporary Drawing our first assignment was to do our interpretation of an antique dressform our professor brought in. It was circa 1909, well over 100 years old.

form2profile

Everyone in class went in different directions with their ideas. We had to do a diptych or triptych using this prop.

My immediate thought was the metaphor of a cage keeping women from pursuing equality. Caging them within the constraints of fashion of that era – corsets, etc.

Our assignments always involve creating 10-12 thumbnail sketches of rough ideas, then doing 2-3 larger sketches – all of which we review with the professor before continuing. She provides feedback and suggestions (you can take them or go your own way, however… as she is marking this… )

My original sketches included a lot of suffrage symbols and slogans in the background but she strongly discouraged me from actually including them. So I left them out of my finished work. But I still like them.

dsc07550 (2)

Then I got the larger paper (approximately 22 x 14″) to do the final drawings on. All told I spent around 20 hours on the final two drawings.

I took photos as I worked on them. The day they were due I put in three hours more in class adding depth and texture (after consultation with the professor) and don’t have photos of the finished drawings that were handed in, yet.

dsc07567dsc07571 (2)dsc07574dsc07577 (2)

I then added colour with watercolours.

I was going for an old book-plate look so wanted to keep the colours muted and sort of faded looking which watercolours are perfect for.

I wanted to add some shading or background colour so I took the photos of them without the colour and printed them. I played around with trying out different light sources or colours. I settled on grey and yellow washes and scrapped the idea of a directional light source based on those tests.

I painted in the washes with yellow behind and around the figures, and grey around the edges of the paper, framing them.

They needed something more, I felt, so I made a template to cover the actual drawings for protection, and then splattered a very diluted wash of the grey and yellow with a toothbrush.

After this stage I added in shadows underneath and a lot more texture and shading to the dressform and the figures in the cages.

I am pretty pleased with how they turned out and I’m excited to find out what my mark will be.