Do what you love

I never thought my life would get to the point that I would be experiencing so much anxiety that I couldn't safely drive myself around, I couldn't sleep at night, and I couldn't eat without experiencing knots in my stomach.  Anxiety is crippling, and it's worse when you don't have an outlet.

The biggest problem I faced was the inability to do the thing that I love: sculpt.  I knew that I was wrecking my hands, but I was surrounded by the supportive people.  Who'da thought you could be living in hell surrounded by such nice people?

You can be excellent at what you do, but if that thing makes you ill, stop justifying reasons to stay.  Your health is worth protecting.  You are worth protecting.

I could have pushed through and tried to figure ways around the struggles and anxiety, and I could have wound up in a car accident the next day – thank God I had two narrow misses in one day.  It was then that I knew I was robbing the people around me of who I am.

Every person is made to do something.  I bring joy into people's lives with my characters, and I'm going to make sure that I'm able to do that for as long as I possibly can.  If it means that I make a lot less money, I believe it's worth it.  But I don't believe that will be the case forever.  

I'm going to treat my work like a job, just as I did with "claylist".  I'm going to manage my time better, spend time daily coming up with illustration ideas, innovate solutions for rigs, and improve my technical skills.  I'm also going to figure out ways to monetize my work - selling prints hopefully, but also by looking into permanent sculptures for people to buy.

I'm also going to get back to making YouTube tutorials.  There's so much that I have to offer that I am not doing, and that is poor decision making on my behalf.  So feel free to hold me accountable.  Ask me about what I'm working on.  Tell me if there is a tutorial that I could make to help you.

An Industrious Menagerie: Behind the Scenes

ArtPrize 8 marks my fourth year of participation in this ridiculous art contest.  In the previous years, I have managed to make a curated list with "I'm not myself" and last year I was able to place in the Top 25 Time-Based entries - and I believe this year will be even better. 

In years past, I haven't had the courage to try and create sets revolving around multiple characters.  They felt posed and the characters never played very well off each other.  This year, I am fully satisfied with the results. The characters look sharp as I've learned a lot about rigging characters in environments that I never would have attempted in the past.  I also was able to utilize my own car for the project as well.  I never would have made my way out to Grand Haven in the dark capture a sunrise backdrop.

Additionally, there were two scenes revolving around water.  Crazily enough, my friend Jennifer and I found ourselves rushing to get the beavers into the Thornapple River to catch the fading light while trying to avoid stepping on snapping crayfish and sharp rocks.

I even had the pleasure of having my mom come along on a photoshoot, also in water.  Having her come along on these excursions have proven to be entertaining, and she thinks a lot like me.  We work well together and regularly solve problems when out making illustrations.

While this might sound like a lot of fun, this project was incredibly difficult and tedious to get through.  I love the end result, but man, did I have to get into some uncomfortable places and risk losing a lot of equipment to make things work.  But it was all worth it.

Thanks again for taking interest, and I hope you're able to see the work in person at the GRCC Collins Art Gallery.

On the way to the shoot location with Daisy the Sun Chasing Dog. Grand Haven State Park, MI.

On the way to the shoot location with Daisy the Sun Chasing Dog. Grand Haven State Park, MI.

On the road again. #WorkinAnimals

A photo posted by jonathan d lopez (@clayalchemist) on

To hell and back

The last photo shoot in a series is usually the most laid back in my experience.  I usually have a solid understanding of how I want the shot to look like and I'm pretty familiar with how I have been shooting things.  Of course this time it was different. I had family visiting for nearly a month, which honestly made me a bit lazy.

For the last shoot, I had a total of six characters that I had to get rigged to stand up on their own.  In a situation where you can't use any tie-downs, this proved to be exceptionally tedious.

The rigging was the least of my worries.  It literally took three hours to get the lighting set up and working properly.  I've never been so annoyed in my life, but it was completely due to my failure to stick to one lighting system.  I had one Nikon SB-700, a Youngnuo YN768, two White Lightning 600's and one White Lightening 1000.  

To say the least, there were compatibility errors.  Either one or two strobes wouldn't fire in sync depending on which was tethered to the sync cord.  Then every time I was able to get the Yongnuo to work, the SB-700 refused to fire.  I was nearly at the end of my rope when I decided to unhook the sync cord from the strobe, utilizing all three strobes on optical slave mode which were all triggered by the SB-700 firing.  Oddly enough, the Nikon and Yongnuo fired just fine when I had the commander off of the camera.  So with a 1 second shutter, I was able to capture just the photograph that I wanted.  

This officially was the biggest mess I made in my house for one of my projects, but it was well worth it :)

Last shot.

A video posted by jonathan d lopez (@clayalchemist) on

Here's a snippet from the last illustration.  It was worth the effort but I hurt for three days.

ArtPrize 2016 Update

Quickly –

Just got registered and trying to make connections with venues.  As of right now, the plan is to make five illustrations.  I want to travel about Michigan and take photographs that utilize the beautiful and diverse locations of my home state.

The funny thing is I had planned to include the two characters on screen, but the more I work on the final set, the less I like those characters.  Probably time for a re-sculpt session.

Planned Characters: BEAVER, Dam Construction Crew ; PIG, Aviator ; GOPHER, Miner; DOG, Photographer ; FROG and MOUSE, Fishers.

Donald gets an award

The Bully was just awarded the Photography Juror Award for Festival of the Arts.  And I was almost certain that he wouldn't get accepted into the showing.