One last illustration for the paper

Since joining the Collegiate, I have had the chance to photograph at plenty of events and meet a lot of people I would not have had I not joined.  Still, seeing one of my illustrations on a page is so much more satisfying to me.

I'm still an introvert.  I still prefer keeping to myself when I'm not working, but I'm a lot faster due to the assignments I've covered.

And let's be honest, art students are atrocious for taking days and weeks to do something that could be done in an afternoon if they just cleared their schedule and focused their efforts.  For the entire month of January 2012, I sculpted, photographed, and publicized an illustration daily.  My first sculpture of the project was titled Barely Thinking.  It took me almost six hours to sculpt and another two to three hours to photograph and publicize.

I find it hilarious that my latest creation is deep in thought as well.  It took only a little longer than three hours from beginning to end – almost five hours faster and light years better in quality.

To keep this post short, I just wanted to encourage everyone interested in creating art.  It feels like it takes forever in the beginning.  For years, you're probably not going to be great at it, cut and bruise your fingers, get stressed, and feel unmotivated – but know that every creation is a step forward. Every time you sit down, your brain has more experience to play off of.  

Stop wondering if you could be great at something some day.  I don't think my work is great by any measure, but I've grown so much in the past few years (especially these past few months) that I know my work is commerically viable.  That's only possible from years of experience and a lot of patience thanks to God.

Thoughtful creatures. Barely Thinking [Jan 12] and Thinkin' Chicken [Mar 15]. #illustration #sculpture

A photo posted by Jonathan D. Lopez 🚲 (@clay.alchemist) on

I'll miss the water

Reflecting on my second trip to NYC, I can honestly say that I would hate to live there.  It felt like there were more tourists than residents where we were at.  The only thing that I will miss is the great tasting water.  Rest assured, if I ever get a job in New York, I'm taking a train into town.

Back to NYC

Tomorrow, I leave for New York City for a journalism convention in Times Square for a few days.  Unlike the first time that I went to New Yo'k, I have some traveling experience and strategies for making the most out of my time.  I really want to open myself up to as many possibilities as I can, and to make connections.  

While I was there on vacation, I couldn't take a moment to really take anything in.  In the coming days, I want to publish a few photos every day and have a meaningful story to tell – that is in addition to learning a heck of a lot at each learning session.

Keep an eye out for updates here and on Instagram.

No clay for this trip.  I couldn't figure out a good way to design a character that wouldn't get ruined in the airport AND not have sharp armatures on the inside.  Beside, I really doubt that I will have much free time to walk about with a sculpture.

Time to collaborate

This past week truly was a nightmare, but having a stop-motion project outside of my daily job made it all bearable.  I feel like it's helped me to recognize that I'm not going to be stuck at a terrible job for much longer.   Honestly, this animation project was the most fun I've had in years.  Additionally, it's my first non-educational and non-personal related animation that I have made, and it helped me to realize that stop-motion is indeed something that is commercially viable even in today's tech-filled world.

Down the road without a truck

Despite spending time and money on the old truck, I was unable to transition into being comfortable behind the wheel – literally.  The last two months of driving, I experienced so much pain in my accelerator foot that I went to the doctor and he confirmed that I had tendonitis that was pressing against a nerve in my foot.  I told him I was planning on selling the truck because of how bad the pain was, and he actually agreed.  In short, I shouldn't be driving a car without cruise control.

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Son of Bean

Son of Bean.  2015

I had been mulling over making a spoof of "Son of Man" ever since I saw it in the hall outside of my History of Art class at GRCC.  It's one of those things that I couldn't really come up with the right person mixed with the right expression.  

If there's one thing that I want to do better this year it's sculptures of actual people.  My dad said he looks like Mr. Rogers, and I guess he does in some way.  Rowan Atkinson just has one of those really distinguishable faces.  While this guy has a distinct face, it's not really Mr. Bean.    

I'm still not 100% happy with it, but it was a fun project that caused me to try something really different.  Maybe I'll try again in January of 2016 to see how far I've come.


Here's some of the behind the scene shots

Figuring exactly where the clouds and waterline have to be on the glass for my Son of Man mock. #sculpture #illustration

A photo posted by Jonathan D. Lopez (@clay.alchemist) on

An honest mechanic

After the bad experiences that I've had dealing with moped repairs, I've developed an understandable distrust of  mechanics.  They have over-tightened my brakes, overfilled the oil, overcharged me, and always talked to me like I was some kind of sap.  Perhaps that's why I have been so impressed with my last two repairs on my new mode of transportation, my [rusty] 2001 S10.

Last week, my engine light went off and I swung by for a free diagnostic at the local Monro Muffler.  They said the secondary air injection pump had died on my S10, and it was going to cost $420 to replace (I wish I saved the invoice to show you).  I said, "What's that going to do if I run with it, cut down on my gas mileage?"  "Pretty much" was his response, and he said I could run it indefinitely with the problem.  My truck only dropped to 20 miles per gallon, and seeing as I only drive about 80 miles per week, it wasn't really worth repairing. 

Later in the week, the engine didn't seem just right, so I made a call to Frank, a retired mechanic in Byron Center who is the relative of a church friend.  Frank and his son Sam replaced the clutch a little while back for a few hundred dollars less than the local brick and mortar shops were charging, so I returned to them for the repair.  

While the diagnostic machine confirmed that the the pump was the current problem, Sam looked from the top and the bottom of the truck to see where all the pipes and wires were going and the current condition.  To the Monro mechanics, the signal that the air pump was out was enough to replace it completely.

Sam gave me a call a short while after I had left to let me know the air pump was perfectly fine – rather the wire connected to the electric pump was broken due to corrosion.

He replaced the wire and cleaned off the corrosion.  The simple fix worked perfectly.    As Frank has said in the past, "I don't replace anything that doesn't need fixing."  I could have had Monro replace the pump and pay $420, but instead I wound up paying $55 for the parts and labor.  

I owe Frank and Sam a big thanks for saving me over $600 on the last two repairs made to my truck.  Unless my engine is about to explode while out of town, I refuse to go to a different mechanic.  It feels good knowing that I can go to a mechanic that I can trust, and talks to me like a human being.

If you need to have something fixed on your ride, I'll give you their number!