Sunday, July 21, 2013

Photo Play, Home Made Jam and Quinn the Clown

 Once or twice a year I treat myself to a month of training on I can always find lots of courses which inspire, inform and delight. Photoshop, of course has almost endless creative potential. When I use it, which is virtually daily, I feel as if I've just begun to scratch the surface of its capabilities, even though I've been a user for about twenty-five years!

One course I took last week, called Dreamscapes, was offered by Bert Monroy, a pioneer in the digital arts, and the author of the very first (and many subsequent) Photoshop How-To manuals. He takes you step by step in the creation of digital paintings and fantastical landscapes using old photographs.

The Paris street above was originally a daytime image with random cars and people in it that I totally removed. It was turned into night and a moon and cloudy sky were added.

I seemed to be most attracted to the projects which featured nighttime scenes. This street in Ghent turned into a dark and stormy night. I particularly like the glowing windows.

This courtyard in the brilliant sunlight of Seville has become a romantic nighttime villa with a tiny apparition.

I combined several photos in this image of the Montmirail countryside and Zinnie to create my own project using some of the techniques I learned from Bert. I highly recommend the course if you have interest in becoming a digital painter. You can, of course find lots of free Photoshop tutorials on YouTube. That's where I learned how to make the rainbow.


It's jam-making time again. I like to make enough to last for a year of breakfasts, but that's a lot as it turns out. Our garden did produce a good quantity of cherries and strawberries this year but not yet enough to make jars of jam, so it's down to what's available at the market.

Although I've posted this recipe before, I'll repeat myself here, since the process is so simple and the results extremely gratifying.

You measure out your fruit and layer it in a glass or ceramic bowl, by weight using 60% fruit slices to 40% sugar. It's an enormous amount of sugar, but most jam recipes call for 50/50 and 60/40 is significantly tastier and more fruity.

Cover with plastic and leave it overnight in the refrigerator. The sugar and fruit act together to create a sugary syrup.

To cook, separate the fruit from the liquid and heat that up first until it reaches 230ºF on a medium flame, skimming off the impurities as they rise to the surface. Add the fruit and again heat up to 230º F, skimming off the scum. This whole process can take an hour or so.

Ladle the warm jam into sterilized jars, right up to the tippy top.

Invert jars and allow to cool. They will be sealed and ready to store. I have received lots of compliments on my jam concoctions. Store-bought just can't compare. I like mixing up all kinds of fruit together. It doesn't matter at all what you choose. My favorite so far is nectarine, peach mixed with a few raspberries and garden cherries. The flavor is divine.


Quinn's first summer activity was to take a clowning class from Pépito, a Spanish clown at a circus school not far from his house in Paris. I think he makes a very attractive one!


  1. The pictures you made are stunning!!!

    With his nose covered, I see a strong resemblance to James in Quinn!