Shannon Fennell's Blog

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


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Final Project for Contemporary Drawing

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

This is the assignment:

Our relationship with food is pronounced. Studies have shown that not only does food effect our bodies, but there is a strong connection between the brain and the gut. The bacteria in our gut effects our minds, moods and emotions.

What we consume can nourish, stimulate, depress, bring focus, numb, nurture, confuse, poison, or refresh. We use

food to empower or sabotage ourselves, have fun with, show resistance, exude control, make political stands,

celebrate milestones, follow traditions and express joy etc. Think about your relationships with food. (we have many!)

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Draw a self-portrait which incorporates your likeness with food/drink in some way. You must be recognizable, and must cover 3/4 of Composition – meaning you must be the main focus of the piece, but also there must be some connection with food.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.


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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.


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Year One – Done!

Today our final grades were officially posted online. I’ve now completed year one of my three-year Fine Arts – Advanced program at Durham College.

My GPA is 4.94 this semester, same as last semester. I am definitely consistent! So that is my GPA for the year. This semester I received an A+ in Drawing I, Communication for Design (which I challenged back in September successfully), Ideas & Images for Art, Digital Resources for Art & Design, and Studio Practice I (2D Art & Design). And an A in Photography.

I am very happy with the A in Photography as I really struggled with it. I have vision issues and can’t read the camera controls nor see the focus clearly in the display, so a lot of my assignments consisted of me shooting around 300 images to get ONE to hand in. I managed, but it was stressful. I will now return to my little point and shoot Sony Cybershot that I use fully on Auto! It was interesting, but I am not going to be investing in camera equipment!

For the final Photography assignment we had to do a Portfolio. My theme was composition straight out of the camera. I shoot things the way I want them framed so most of the time I do not crop (unless I have to for a size requirement.) I submitted these two photos as part of my portfolio. These were not cropped at all. I just did a bit of light and clarity adjustment to them.

The statue is Winged Victory of Samothrace in the Louvre Museum, and the other is through a cannon port in a fortification in Essaouria, Morocco. I took these on my travels. We had to have class assignment photos in our shortlist/contact sheet, but only needed to print our three favourites for class critique – my favourites were not from class! I was ecstatic to get 100% on the portfolio assignment! Got to go out with a bang.

In Drawing I my final grade was 100%. Last semester in Drawing II (Figurative) I also received 100%. I took the semesters in reverse order as I started in January. I like Drawing. Next semester I will be in Drawing IV (Contemporary) – still out-of-order! Eventually I will be in the right order, in year three!

These are the last three Drawing classes’ marked work. Still life in colour, glass rendering and metal/plastic rendering. I used chalk pastels for all of them. We could choose our media most of the time and I really like the chalk pastels.

My final assignment for Digital Resources is a multi-media piece incorporating collage, paper tole, markers and piped on acrylic paint for texture. I had to use digitally manipulated versions of my own original art for this, which came from the previous assignment that was to digitize our analogue art.

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Got 95% on this one, which I am very happy with.

For Studio Practice (2D) my final Design Assignment was a stop-motion animation. I can’t post animations in this blog apparently, but you can see it on my Facebook page here (it is a 13 second GIF.) My mark was 100%. It was fun, but fussy to do. My little character was only 10 cm high so managing to articulate him was a very long process. But he worked very well!

For the Art part of this course my final project is a 20 x 38″ painting based on photos I took on my trip to Morocco in 2017. This is not the finished painting, but gives you an idea of it. This was three hours work, I spent another five on it after the photo was taken. It was left at school for marking so I won’t see it again until January. I was given 96% for a grade on it. I will probably work on it a bit more later.

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Next semester I will be taking Painting II, Drawing IV, Website Development and general education courses – one history class and the other still to be determined.

I’m in the process of completely redesigning my website (it is taking a long time!) so the Website Development course should be useful. The course description says we’ll actually be developing a site, so potentially I might be changing everything.

I know I’ve said this before, but I am LOVING being in school. I really think the once you’ve had some life experience, mainly having to work for a living, you really appreciate the opportunity to be able to learn and absorb in an academic environment. And… paying for it yourself makes a massive difference too! I’m not here to waste my time and money, and am working extremely hard to do the best I possibly can.


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Art – projects on the go

Two weeks left in the Fall term and have final projects/assignments in progress for all classes.

I just submitted my Photo Essay for Photography class online. There is still one more assignment but it is just putting together a portfolio from existing work – we don’t have the details yet. The Photo Essay was a bit of a challenge but it is done! I took 282 photos and ended up with 16 usable ones! Mainly due to focus issues. I can’t see well enough when shooting manually to know if the focus is perfect or not. So I get them on the computer then look for ones that are in focus. Hard way to do it, but is what works to get my assignments done. Luckily I am pretty decent at composition, so the ones in focus are generally good enough.

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Working on a multi-media piece for my Digital Resources class. It is the final part of a two-stage project. The first part was called ADD – we had to choose some of our work (analogue – hand created work) and digitize it. Then produce a digital output – printed or projected, etc.

For part one I took photos/scans of nine of my watercolour paintings and ink drawings and made them into a collage in Word. Yes, Word – it is what I know really well. Impressed the professor with that. It was a bit tedious – I made the first collage with the full images on one page, then saved as a PDF, then converted to a JPG, then cropped the JPG into multiple pieces, then made another collage in Word using the pieces. Then repeated that process about a half-dozen times. The assignment said to make at least five prototypes and choose the best one to submit. So each stage was saved as I went along.

The final collage is what I submitted. I printed off five versions so I could have a look at them and the final one was the most processed and I liked it! So did the professor – he gave me 95% and commented “Outstanding!”

Final graded

Part two is called ADA. We need to take something from the first assignment that was digitized and then use it to create another analogue artwork. That is as specific as the assignment got. So, I took all my digitized printed collages, and made a collage of them by ripping and cutting them up, and using Modpodge to attach to a canvas. Then I took one of my ink drawings – decided to use the Chickadee – and scanned and printed off a dozen copies of that to create a paper tole, which was then mounted on the canvas collage. I’m still working on it – planning to use the 3D pen to create some interesting details.

Chickadee edited

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I’m really enjoying this assignment! I am not really a digital process artist, but finally, this is fun! Using the digital to create parts that then get used to create hands-on art is pretty cool.

In Painting I have my canvas stretched ready to start my final painting. I got the last one finished – I showed the work in progress in my last post. Here that one is in almost final form – I did go back to punch up the rock in the top right as it was a bit too flat looking, but haven’t taken a photo yet. I’m pretty happy with this!

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The final painting is big and I am still trying finalize WHAT I will be painting – it is supposed to be based on something out of the art journal we’ve been working on for this class. So… I’ve been sketching and doodling like crazy to have ideas in there I actually WANT to paint!

In 2D Design I am just getting the shooting done for a stop-motion animation. Had to create a “zombie” character (in the loosest sense) and a story board, then make a paper “puppet” to photograph. We need to create a 10 second GIF ultimately. I’ve got everything ready and the camera is on the tripod. Just need to set-up my light box and shoot. That’s my plan for tomorrow. Then editing of course!

For the Design Idea class we have to come up with a solution to the Bee problem. As bees are dying off and several species have been declared endangered we are supposed to be creative and produce a fix for it. We were just given the assignment on Thursday. I’ve got two pretty good ideas but which I go with will depend on timing. Due dates are how I prioritize and other projects come first. Once I get those done, I will know how much time I have left.

Drawing class doesn’t have homework assignments – everything is done live in class. I really enjoy that. This week we’ll be doing negative space and the last class the week after is a bonus class where you can increase your mark or make up for an absence. I go no mater what as I don’t miss classes unless I have medical appointments I can’t schedule otherwise.

I reached maximum hours on my work/study job as of last Wednesday so I get those 12 hours a week back to work on my projects so I should have no problems wrapping up the term. Back to work on January 2nd, and back to school for the winter term on January 7th.

Next term I will be taking Drawing (Contemporary), Painting, Web Development and “A Short History of the World” which is a general elective. I probably will be adding in another elective but have to see what is available when time-table additions/changes are permitted.


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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.

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