Shannon Fennell's Blog

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


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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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.