I finished my digital painting last night, a couple hours before the midnight deadline. Here it is:
It took me a total of about 15-20 hours to finish, and was quite a challenge! It would have taken me far longer if I’d been painting with traditional media, though, so I’m feeling good about my choice of Photoshop/digital painting. It lets me make changes with impunity, and makes things like applying textures and duplicating items a lot easier.
(For example, there are really only three balloons in that huge cluster of balloons. There’s one oval balloon, one spherical balloon, and one lumpy-shaped balloon. The rest was done in about fifteen minutes, by changing colors and copy/pasting the balloon shapes onto separate layers. Then I just needed to resize, rotate, and move the balloons around a bit, and presto! A huge cloud of “unique” balloons, each with proper lighting. As an added bonus, I could simply lower the opacity of each balloon to give the see-through effect. If I’d been painting in traditional media, I’d have had to figure out all that complexity myself.)
Now that that project is done, I can take a breather of a day or two from my digital painting class, and catch up on other things. Like the book. I had planned to complete the captions this weekend, but because I’m still missing a lot of information, that will have to happen next weekend. This weekend I’ll work on organizing photos, send out all my caption information requests, write the Bibliography, and get a head start on writing the marketing material. Then I’ll make sure the footnotes are correct, start work on the Index, and all that other unsexy stuff. I’m also hoping to make the final corrections to the manuscript, so I can begin reformatting it for the publisher.
I’ve also got homework for an online visual composition class I’m taking, but I’m thinking I may defer that for a couple weeks, and play catch-up once the book and digital painting class is done. It’s not ideal, but it’s OK with the instructor, and I’ve got my hands full already.
Which, of course, does not explain why huge boxes of fruit keep insisting on coming home from the farmer’s market with me. Last weekend, despite my huge and growing to-do list, an entire lug of apricots (about 22 lbs!) appeared in my market bags, to be converted to 15 jars of apricot jam (in three flavors: apricot-rose, apricot-honey, and just plain apricot). Here’s a pic of one batch of jam, bubbling away:
The week before that, it was 20+ lbs of peaches and nectarines, plus two flats of strawberries. The strawberries got made into sun-cooked strawberry jam:
The sun-cooked strawberry jam is one of my favorite jams – you toss de-stemmed strawberries with sugar and lemon juice, wait for the juices to come out, then boil the mixture very briefly to sterilize it and help the sugar penetrate the berries. Then, instead of boiling it, you spread it in large sheet pans, cover with netting, and put it out in the sun for several days (taking it in at night, of course). The excess moisture evaporates in the sun, “cooking” the jam without destroying the intense strawberry flavor. Then you boil it briefly to sterilize it and put it into jars. The result is a very concentrated strawberry jam with the essence of fresh strawberries. 24 baskets of strawberries made eight pints of jam, so each jar contains three pints of strawberries!
Somewhere in there, I also got into my head that making nocino would be a good idea. Nocino is a walnut liqueur made with “green” (immature) walnuts. You take the immature walnuts, chop them into quarters (husks and all), add a little vanilla and a little lemon or orange peel, and soak them in vodka for a couple months. Then you add sugar and let the mixture age for another couple months. The result is said to be a wonderfully complex and nutty liqueur. I, of course, have no interest in drinking it (I’m basically allergic to alcohol), but I was thinking it might be interesting in chocolates.
Here are the walnuts and the proto-nocino:
Despite knowing that walnut hulls produce a strong brown stain, I didn’t bother wearing gloves as I chopped up the walnuts. I figured that the stains would only last a day or two. Boy, was I wrong! My hands were brown for almost a week. Lesson learned!
But really, I have to stop making jams for the rest of the month. I simply don’t have time! So I will have to exercise some self-control at the farmer’s markets. My self-control has obviously become quite flabby, so it’s time to get it lifting weights again. 🙂
Along the lines of self-control, I really should stop spending time surfing the Internet. However, it does lead to discoveries. A buddy of mine (who is working on a book about the great wheel and how to spin with it) has just started a spinning blog, Cetacea’s Stuff, with a lot of information about history, tools, and process of spinning. Well worth reading if you have an interest in handspinning.
And, finally, here’s a pic of Fritz, who has apparently never heard of feline dignity. 🙂 He likes to hang out by the front door, flopped over on his back with his hind feet in the air, prior to a lengthy bout of shoe-sniffing. A very silly, but thoroughly lovable, cat.