Shannon Fennell's Blog

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


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What I’ve been up to for school

I’m finding working on my MA Fine Art to be a lot different from college/undergraduate studies.

I liked the structure of multiple classes running at a time (5-7 per semester), deadlines, due dates, assignments, lots of different professors/instructors to discuss things with, etc. In the MA we’re doing one course per year (it is a three-year part-time program.) We go on campus once a week for our seminars for that course. We have writing assignments for each seminar (the topic of which covers two sessions each at least) that are due before the second session.

We also have, on the same day, either workshops, tutorials or critiques with the whole group or individually (they combine all three years of the program together for this.)

Not that there isn’t work to do, but it is self-generated – research and documenting what we are working on for our proposals. Is a but of an adjustment for someone who is timeline driven. All those years of working to deadlines has really conditioned me to want things broken down into a hard schedule.

Now that’s off my chest, I have been enjoying myself learning about new media and updating my skills and knowledge in others.

I’ve taken the “introductory workshops” in the studios for Mold Making, Ceramics, Screen Printing, Printing and Metal Workshop, and in February will also be doing Letterpress. There are many others available in technology – 3D printing, Photography, Green Screen, Film and Audio, Virtual Reality, etc. but I swore I was never, ever, doing any of that again once I got through the courses at college. And I’m sticking to that.

The studios here at the University of Plymouth are extremely well equipped with a full-time technicians there to instruct, advise and assist!

Mold Making was a bit of a refresher for me, but the great equipment, facility and materials are something I’ve not been able to access on my own! I am going to be using it to create the main work for this year’s art project.

The first photo here is the silicone mold – I’d sculpted a relief portrait of Pippa (my furry friend who wakes me up every morning) and the next shows the results.

We also made some coasters.

The next was the Metal Workshop – I was curious as I though I might use metalwork in some capacity, but this is heavy duty metalwork! Interesting, but not something I think I’ll dabble in. Too much physicality involved for this old tired body. Plus, using a forge and different types of welders are a little out of my comfort zone! Also, couldn’t use the electric powered arc welder anyway due to metal implants in my body… go figure.

Then I did Ceramics – we got to build a pot. I think it is being fired as it has been missing from the shelf in the studio for a couple of weeks. I hope to see it again soon. I intend it to be a garlic pot.

I will be using clay to create my main work, which is then going to be cast to make a mold.

The next one was Screen Printing. This was fun. I wasn’t able to access Photoshop (long story, would take a whole post up just telling it!) so made up acetates of a drawing (the single rose) by hand at home using black acrylic paint. I wasn’t sure if the image I really wanted to do could be done the morning of the workshop. Ended up the tech in the print shop/paper stores was helping everyone photoshop and print their acetates, so I was able to get my skull illustration separated and printed.

As I had two sets of acetates ready I was able to make the screens to do two different prints, which was great. I was able to try two ways of aligning the second colours – the second (on the single rose) worked way better for me.

The last workshop was the Printshop. It was a two-day workshop, but as I have a medical appointment on the second day, I arranged to go in last Thursday (just for three hours rather than all day) to cover it with the technician by myself. The first day was Relief (woodcut, linocut, etc.) and Intaglio (etching, etc.) – I’d done some linocut before. I didn’t find these techniques of much interest/use to me.

BUT… the second session was Planographic Monoprints. THIS was brilliant and I think I will be doing a lot more of it! The technician said I had “a flair for it.”

It is a very enjoyable process, creating the different impressions of the monotype. The only problem is cranking the antique press – my elbow is still extremely painful – the cranking was done on Thursday afternoon, it is now Sunday afternoon.

I hope to be able to work on my sculpture in the Mold Making Studio this week… I have my armature ready to go. I’ll use waste clay (texture isn’t important) to do the sculpt, then we have to cast the mold. I think it has to be a two-part mold, but all that is going to have to be discussed with the technician once I have the item in the studio to show her. I need to make at least six casts so the mold needs to be durable.

All in all I am having a great time. There is also a Woodshop on campus and I really want to check that out too.


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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!