Daniel Pelavin
October 2009
Gingerbread Time.
Every year about now, I begin to prepare for my gig as a helper at the Church Street School Gingerbread Workshop. For three weekends in December, the music room is filled with happy families creating masterpieces of confectionary architecture to the sounds of holiday tunes on the Steinway. The art room becomes a staging area for the helper "elves" who keep participants supplied with a plethora of sweets and tubs of frosting to decorate their candy-covered cottages. The designs range from classic to abstract expressionist but, all are worthy of a second look by Hansel and Gretel.

When my daughters came of age to be helpers, the job of making the frosting (two cups ater, one cup powdered meringue & two pounds of confectioners sugar, whipped to a froth in the reliable, old KitchenAid mixer) fell to me.

It's always a treat (no pun intended) to contribute to this community-based fund-raiser. This year is the second time I've had the opportunity to draw upon other than my culinary skills to assist in the event.
I tried to stay faithful to the image which sparked the idea but, was requested to "dummy it up" for the already stressed-out young professionals of Tribeca.
I chose a painting from the 1930s upon which to base my art. I wanted to be sure it read clearly as gingerbread but, in the end, decided the tight cropping had more punch. Such a charming painting, it's a wonder nobody has every parodied it before.
An illustration for the same event a few years ago. I noticed the girl on the right bore a faint resemblance to my daughter Molly. One quick click on the caricature filter in Illustrator CS2 and, Bingo: a family Christmas card! (The Penguin is a distant relation).
I've enjoyed several pleasant sojourns recently courtesy of the Nutmeg state. It began when I journeyed with my college-bound daughter Molly to New Haven to visit the school made famous by Rory Gilmore of the eponymous television comedy-drama.

Next, was a week-long stay in the pleasant New England town of Hartford. This, for a teaching stint in Murray and Carol Tinkelman's incredible MFA program at the Hartford Art School. Here I had the privilege of working alongside the elegant Professor Stahl and my illegitimate twin brother Professor Spollen, not to mention the well prepared Professor Tuttle. While there, we visited the Martk Twain House and Museum, admired a Lego model of the famous house and learned that "pressing a suit" isn't always a reference to tailoring.

In early September, on the cusp of Summer and Autumn, my sweetheart and I spent some leisurely afternoons on the pristine beaches of Fairfield admiring the magnificence of Long Island Sound and searching for the ever-elusive blue beach glass.

The denouement to this chain of events came when I was invited to create illustrations for Connecticut Magazine, depicting the pastoral yet, genteel civility of its historic towns and villages.

I got the job because they liked an ill-fated book cover I'd done. (motto: save those rejected pieces)! Though I've had trouble trying to imitate a previous work, these are not the times to turn down a job and there would be an additional fee if one of the illustrations was used for the cover.

The epilogue to this long-winded rambling: with the help and extreme patience of art director Joan Barrow, we pulled off the hat trick!

Details of the previous job, sent so they wouldn't panic when they saw my sketches. See a resemblance?
1.5 GHz of brute processing power, a little inspiration and plenty of room at the top for type.
It's like the difference between night and day.
3D or not 3D, is that the question?
So you like sketches, do ya? Like many a Drawger, I have sketchbooks stuffed into every nook (a corner or recess, esp. offering seclusion or security) and cranny (a small, narrow space or opening). Face it, drawing is more than half the fun of being an artist. The other half, for me is envisioning how my drawings would translate into 3-dimensional space, thus my obsession with computer modeling.

After having a degree of success with Adobe Dimensions, I was waylayed (stopped, interrupted or troubled in some way) when it was discontinued and found little solace in the half-hearted attempt to incorporate some of its features into Illustrator. I then struggled mightily against the behmoth (something enormous, eps. big and powerful) that is Maya, only to crash and burn amongst windows, dialog boxes and commands too numerous to mention. I had slightly better luck with Blender but, in the end, decided blenders were more useful for making protein shakes than art.

Then, 3 weeks ago I stumbled upon Cheetah3D and, am back on the road to endless fiddling with splines, polygons and node-based shaders in the quest of bringing my doodles (absent-minded scribbles) to life once again.

On a good night, you can receive signals from Venus that are (relatively) static-free.
To give a bit of history: a few years back, the Type Directors Club decided to celebrate the 25th year of its annual by featuring the numerals 1 through 25 as envisioned by 25 famous designers. Famous designer #14 apparently bailed at the last minute and the honor of creating that number fell to me; a perfect opportunity to test my nascent 3D chops.
An amalgam (mixture or blend) of my affinity for both cast iron and shiny red plastic.
Then came the end of the year 2004 and the notion of doing a (365 days of promotion!) calendar.
From sketchbook to "reality" in 2005 easy steps.
A sketch I did on the beach about 5 years ago and a design I thought would make a nice clock face combined to inspire this recent creation.
Sketch, clockface and you've heard of Steampunk? Next Steamrollerpunk.
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