Shannon Fennell's Blog

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


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Double vaxed at last

On Tuesday I got my second dose! My original second appointment was for August 6th, but lots of supply has been arriving and the Delta variant is gaining ground so the provincial government started opening it up. As of this past weekend everyone can book. I was automatically notified of my rescheduled appointment by the clinic I had my first one at.

The challenge for many is getting booked through the online system, which isn’t necessarily easy. There are pop-up clinics in hot spots too. On Sunday June 27th the City of Toronto and Scotiabank Centre (where the Maple Leafs and Raptors play at home) held a clinic all-day and vaccinated 26,771 people! A new world record for the most vaccinations in one day. The previous record was 17,001 in Texas in April.

I am glad my appointment was at 8 a.m.; it was already 24C and I was walking there. I don’t like heat. When I got home before 9, it was up to 26C and I was pretty uncomfortable. Thank god for A/C. I really feel horrible for everyone out west getting hit with the record breaking heat wave – the city I moved here from is in the mid-high 40s right now. I am so glad I’m not out there.

It was really busy at the clinic too. They’ve got the drive-thru option going with two lanes, and inside the rink was packed (socially distant, of course). Way busier than when I went for my first shot. But it was moving very fast. I was in line inside by 7:57, shot in the arm by 8:04, then had to wait 30 minutes (historically I’ve had a vaccine reaction), and was home by 8:45.

I remembered to take my little sketch book with me this time, so the 30 minutes went by in a blink while I was sketching some ideas for a commission.

And the only reaction I had was a sore upper arm around the injection site, again, same as the first shot. So that was great.

There are lots more doses in the pipeline so it looks pretty good for most Canadians to be fully vaxed by the end of summer, which is awesome. I will, however, be continuing to wear a mask for quite some time. I like not catching colds and having a reduced allergy response to pollen! Plus, no sunburned nose.

My plans for heading abroad are moving along – visa applied for, flight booked, notice given to landlord, selling/donating/disposing of stuff, bought two huge suitcases and fully vaxed! Now I just have to wait and hold my breath… and hope for no delays.

I finally stopped working on my thesis project “Anthropocene of the Crime.” I got the additional paintings I decided to do finished, and did end up doing just one more to make it a nice round total of 60 threatened species.

Giant Armadillo (listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List) the last painting, species #60

We did our live virtual show and artist’s talk with the Robert McLaughlin Gallery on Zoom on June 14th… still waiting for a link from them to share with everyone, once they have it up on their website. This is the link to the live presentation invite that quotes our professor and the featured art is my project: http://rmg.on.ca/events/emerging-visions-artist-talks/ I’m hoping they’ll post the recording soon.

The project is still up in the studio for now. We are supposed to hear from BMO 1st Art around July 9th on the results of their judging. Then I’ll be taking it down and, if I happened to be the chosen Ontario artist I’ll have to mount it all on a sheet of plywood to be transported to their show, if not (most likely) I’ll just retrieve my paintings and scrap the rest. Some of the paintings have been spoken for and there are some I want to keep.

My project blog, which covers all the species I’ve painted and explains my project, is at https://anthropoceneofthecrime.wordpress.com

The final and complete crime investigation board of “Anthropocene of the Crime”

Received my credentials in the mail yesterday. I have to say I was underwhelmed. I was expecting the college to include some swag at least, not just a cardboard mailer with the diploma inside. I’ve seen what other schools have sent their grads and was expecting there would be something. They didn’t even include what normally is given out at convocation in a normal year.

They saved massively on the budget for convocation for two years now, and they also kept charging us ancillary fees for services and facilities that were NOT available during lockdown – so why couldn’t they have at least provided a decorative folder for the diplomas?

It truly is, literally, just a bloody expensive piece of paper.


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Day 416 (of the Pandemic)

And so it continues. We are back in a hard lockdown here because of record numbers of cases with the third wave of Covid, full ICUs, younger people dying very quickly from the variants… and a slow vaccination rollout.

I was able to get my first Pfizer vaccine on April 16 – I was really emotional about it. I had to wait 30 minutes after it and while I was sitting there I starting crying. Combination of relief and letting go of some of the fear I think. Also was the biggest group of people I’d seen in over a year.

School finished on April 16th – my three-year Diploma is complete. I am still working on my Thesis project in anticipation of our grad show, however, that may not be happening at the gallery – we don’t know yet. The lockdowns have caused the public galleries all sorts of issues so we don’t really know what will be happening. Our prof has called an online meeting with everyone for Monday. I still need to get mine assembled and photographed in the next week or so to submit to the BMO 1st Art! Competition.

Very happy with my marks again. This semester I received 100%, 100%, 99%, 97% and 93%. The 93% was 3D Printing which stressed me out a lot, so I am very pleased and relieved about that. Another 5.0 GPA – so for four of my seven semesters I had a 5.0, that makes my average GPA 4.98.

The two lowest grades I had were in my first year: 86% in Photography and 87% in Digital Drawing. I did not know any of the programs that people were using for Digital Drawing as I’d never done any (had zero interest in it and that has not changed.) I was pretty lost and, as we were told to “use what you know,” I ended up using the Windows photo editor, Paint, Word and Excel. It wasn’t fun but I managed to do the projects, but I wasn’t happy with any of them.

Photography was challenging due to my sight and hand problems – I can’t see the manual camera controls without my prescription and even then it is still difficult; and I can’t see the subject with my glasses on. I also can’t hold the camera and manipulate controls at the same time as I have grip problems. Was so frustrating. I would take 400-600 photos for each assignment and wouldn’t know if I had anything useable until I got them on the computer. I would just randomly change settings without knowing what they were until I could check the metadata and hope I’d used the right ones! By fluke I nailed a couple of the assignments and got really high marks, which made up for the duds. LOL Very frustrating as I can take pretty good photos… on AUTO SETTING!

When our final grades posted I copied and sent my transcript off to the schools that I have conditional offers from for finishing my degree. IT/Sligo, the Irish school, immediately sent a new unconditional offer letter.

With the state of the pandemic I am waiting to make a decision on my offers – I do not want to continue with online learning. While I did well, I did not enjoy it, nor do I feel I learned as much as I could have with in-person instruction and the interaction with other students. As a international student the tuition and fees will be very high (for instance, at my current school they are six times more than domestic students pay.) I want the in-person, hands-on, social interaction aspect to be there; it is a huge expense and I want the most I can get out of it. I will leave it as late as I can to make that decision, and hope that if I do decide to go that I can still find private living arrangements! If not, I will defer for a year.

It seems that most schools are anticipating a “blended” delivery model – some in-person and some remote. But things are in such a state of flux. Part of the issue is that the 18-24 age groups are not being targeted for vaccination in most places yet. Seems that the schools are looking at the number of people vaccinated on campus as the marker for how much they can open back-up.

I’ve got extensive lists of things I need to do preparing to move overseas, but there is an order that they have to be done in and getting the process going involves making the decision about which school’s offer to accept or defer for a year. I’ve got just over a month before processes have to start – visa applications, finding accommodations, making deposits… some things can be on pretty short notice (like booking flights… right now super easy) but others it can be a couple of months.

Here are some of the 41 paintings of 43 threatened species that are part of my final Thesis project. This part of the work is done, and now I start on the actual physical construction and assembly.

I’m really pleased with how these have all turned out. Of course I have my favourites, and there are one or two that I may actually not use in the final display as they didn’t translate as I had hoped. But I am happy with this body of work.


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21 Days and One Year (of the Pandemic)

How’s everyone holding up? I’m getting antsy to get vaccinated. My region is opening up appointments in five year increments (started at 80+ years), Monday they opened it up to 70+ years. So… based on the timing of the last increment, I hopefully can book by the end of the month! Fingers crossed.

Until I get that first shot I am in limbo mentally. I can’t start making firm arrangements or accept one of my offers for schools abroad, until I am pretty sure I CAN travel in September. I figure once I get that first one I should be good to go, literally.

I took part in an open day for the post-grad program at the Arts University of Bournemouth last week – watched a recorded presentation, then there was a live Q&A. They inferred things will be “hybrid” in the Fall (all going well) – they were talking it up as something they’d been planning pre-pandemic. I’m not completely keen. I know it is a Masters and self-directed, but I like more personal contact and being in a setting with other people. I am so over working in my room alone! The course leader did put me in touch with a student from the US who is there now so I could chat with them about their experience travelling to the UK in February and how the program is going.

I also submitted an application to the Government of Ireland – International Education Scholarship last week. IT Sligo sent me the application – I’ve an offer from them for the BA (Hons) Fine Art. This is a very prestigious scheme – they choose 60 international students from countries other than EU/EEA and award:

  • A €10,000 stipend for one year’s study
  • A full fee waiver of all tuition and other registration costs at the higher education institution

Would be amazing to get that – makes it very, very close to a full-ride! They have a very stringent criteria and would be a huge honour to be chosen! Won’t know what happens until after June 1st. So, I will just not think about it and carry on with getting things done!

My last official day of classes here is April 16! I will still be working in the studio after that on my thesis project as the show, according to the latest update, won’t be held until June. So our professor has said we have time to continue work. That is comforting – I would have been able to be ready earlier, but the extra time allows me to complete more individual paintings to include in the installation.

But I do have to make a submission by May 15th for the BMO 1st ART! 2021 art competition -I’ve been nominated for it and it is for my thesis project! So I need to have it ready to photograph the week prior.

The Annual All-Student Juried Show is opening this week – April 1 to April 28. I put three works in: one from last semester (mixed media,) one from Fall 2019 (a diptych acrylic paintings,) and one that was my own project in 2019 (not school.) I am hoping I can get over there to take some photos of my work hung up. They are currently open for limited occupancy. I wouldn’t go until classes are done, so hopefully they’ll still be open to the public then.

Here are some recent paintings I’ve completed for my Thesis project (since my last post) on Threatened Species: West African Slender Snouted Crocodile, Elkhorn/Staghorn/Pillar Corals, Island Oak, Gooty Tarantula, Little Brown Bat, Great Hammerhead Shark, and a Polar Bear.

Hammerhead Sharks are the strangest looking creatures!

These two paintings are still in progress – a Mexican Wolf and a couple of Gilbert’s Potoroos:

And this is a shot of all 34 paintings that are completed or in-progress right now! I’ve an additional 12 small canvases prepped and ready, if I decide I want 52 to be in my final installation. I’ll see how much progress I make over the next four sessions in the studio then decide.

Our weather is settling to the unsettled spring pattern… frost in the morning and t-shirts in the afternoon. But it is so nice to get out for a walk in the sun – which is warm when you are out of the wind but that isn’t very often!