At Her Best
Alex Hinders, 2017.
Color pencils and pen.
At Her Best
Alex Hinders, 2017.
Color pencils and pen.
The Girl Who Missed Her Prom
Alex Hinders, 2016.
Colored pencil and pen.
I actually finished this drawing early in January, 2016. I was really distraught over how some of the blending went, however, and decided that the drawing was basically unsalvageable. So I set it aside. Eight months later I looked at it again and I’m surprised by how I had written this drawing off. I’ve mentioned before on this blog that sometimes I occasionally have some problems with perfectionism — or maybe I haven’t? I’ve been doing this site for so long I’m starting to forget. But this is a perfect illustration of what I mean when I’m over-focusing on details.
First off, let’s play a game. Check out the drawing above and try to find the part that I was dis-satisfied with. Can you do it? I’ll give you a hint: It appears in the following area of the drawing.
Did you find it? I’ll circle it for you.
Looking at it now, it’s not such a big deal. I’m still not terribly pleased with how this portion turned out, blending-wise, but I don’t think it drags the overall drawing down. I’m still really pleased with the texture of the girl’s hair and the overall feel of the drawing. But sometimes, it’s like I can’t tell my eyes to zoom-out and I’m looking at something minor magnified beyond what it should be. Like this:
There’s an idiom about forests, and trees, and seeing all the wrong stuff. I forget how it goes, though.
In this part of the story, the man dreams that he moves into a cabin in the woods with the mysterious hitchhiker woman. Unfortunately, things don’t work out, and this proves to be the end of the road for this ill-fated affair. I’ve decided to post the lyrics to the song these pictures are based off of — “Go Fishing” — to better help you understand the narrative at play. The lyrics are, of course, the intellectual property of Roger Waters.
Buckle up, because this is where things get intense.
(Spoken words: “As cars go by I cast my mind’s eye
Over back packs on roof racks
Beyond the horizon
Where dream makers
Working white plastic processors
Invite the unwary
To reach for the pie in the sky
Go fishing my boy!”)
We cut down some trees
And we trailed our ideals
Through the forest glade
We dammed up the stream
And the kids cooled their heels
In the fishing pool we’d made
We held hands and we exchanged bands
And we practically lived off the land
You adopted a fox cub
Whose mother was somebody’s coat
You fed him by hand
And then snuggled him down
In the grandfather bed while I wrote
We grew our own maize
And I only occasionally went into town
To stock up on antibiotics
And shells for the shotgun that I kept around
I told the kids stories
While you worked your loom
And the sun went down sooner each day.
Man: “Chapter six, in which Eeyore has a birthday
And gets two presents…”
*The sound of a joint being lit*
Child: “Daddy…come on dad!”
Man: “…Eeyore the old grey donkey stood by the side
Of the stream and he looked at himself in the water
“Pathetic” he said, “That’s what it is”
“Good morning Eeyore” said Pooh
“Oh” said Pooh, He thought for a long time.”)
The leaves all fell down
Our crops all turned brown
It was over
As the first snowflakes fell
I realised all was not well in the camp
The kids caught bronchitis
The space heater ran out of diesel
One weekend a friend from the East
Rot his soul
Stole your heart
I said “Fuck it then!
Take the kids back to town
Maybe I’ll see you around”
And so…leaving all our hopes and dreams
To the wind and the rain
Taking only our stash
Left our litter and trash
And set out on the road again
On the road again
Child: “Bye bye, Daddy! Bye bye!”)
Long Hot Bath
Alex Hinders, 2015.
Colored pencil and pen.
This is a simple drawing illustrating the joys of a long and hot bath. An alternate title could be “Healing.”
This drawing uses two cool colors and their complimentary warm colors. Blue is my favorite color, and the color I usually use to depict myself. I almost chose red for the curtains, but this would have all of the warm colors in the picture and give the image a greater feeling of energy. It probably would’ve looked nice like that — but it just wasn’t what I was going for. In the end I decided to leave the bath tub white, as I felt I would have had to introduce another color for it. Using purple would have completely dominated the image in that color, and using blue would make the tub seem to be related to the figure inside of it. I wanted to make certain the person and the bathtub are two separate objects.
I should also mention that I’ve recently done a number of drawings that don’t have colored backgrounds. There’s actually an artistic term, horror vacui, which means ‘fear of empty space.’ It was originally applied to older art work that filled every inch of its space with detailed patterns and images. While I assume the word was invented with tongue-in-cheek intent, it does accurately describe the dilemma an artist faces when working on art. Is space left un-used evidence that the drawing is unfinished — or worse, is it evidence that the artist is lazy? Well, I’ve decided that at least for now, I’m not afraid of empty spaces.
I’m working on a larger drawing at the moment that heavily utilizes a red/purple/blue color scheme and this has made me appreciate the relationship between red and purple. They’re on opposite ends of the spectrum — poles apart. For this drawing, though, I chose yellow and green, since they complement the red and the purple. The purple clashes with both the red and the green. I’ve created a sense of tension here by alternating complementary colors and non-complimentary colors.
If you’re forgotten your place in the narrative, check out the earlier Night of Clarity entries.
During Song 6, the Man is still reeling from the nightmarish image of his wife eating a dog sandwich. He cowers in the corner, aware that somehow his wife can see into his dreams and is aware of his imaginary infidelity. But then the dream takes a sudden turn, and the man is back in the hotel where the Hitchhiker Woman left him. This time, though, instead of leaving him, she says she was “Only joking”, and the two of them start talking about running away to the country together. They get so wrapped up in this idea that they eventually pack up their things and move out to a cabin of their own. They are certain that nothing but domestic bliss awaits them in their new life.
Alex Hinders, 2015.
Colored pencil and pen.
8.5″ x 11″
The Forest is a theme that seems to run rampant across my body of artwork. (I just took a look at the ‘Browse by Title’ page and I count at least eight forest related drawings, with this one included.) At first, I thought that the forest only related to my romantic life — the first time I really noticed it was after an ex and I literally broke-up in a forest. But lately, I’ve been thinking that the forest encompasses far more than just relationships. I think that the forest, to me, represents the stage on which we all act. All of the decisions that we make, all of the actions that we decide to take — all of this takes place in the forest.
Color-wise, you’ll notice that this uses the dangerous red and green color scheme. Although these two colors are complimentary to one another, the combination has a strong connection to Christmas here in the US. This can lead to a sort of un-conscious connection to the holidays that can become a conscious connection and then undermine the tone and meaning of drawing. I tried to side-step that by making most of the red and green shaded with black, hopefully providing a sense of menace that wouldn’t get mistaken with any sort of Christmas cheer. The use of lines going in opposing directions also heightens this tension.
Alex Hinders, 2012/2014.
Colored pencil and pen.
Dimensions: 19″ x 25″
When I was in kindergarten – oh! Excuse me; I’m employing the literary technique of launching directly into a story in order to make a point and lead into the topic at hand. I hope I didn’t startle you, as I know that was rather abrupt. Anyway, when I was in kindergarten, we sometimes had ‘group circle’ activities where we would each be given a task and then the teacher would come around one by one to make certain we understood what we were doing and offer individual attention. There were only five or six kids in a circle group at a time and the rest got to play with stuff while awaiting their turn. I probably learned a lot of useful – if basic – skills from these exercises, but there’s one of particular importance. I’m about to segue into it right now, and later on you’ll see the overall importance of the story and compliment me for being so god damned clever.
But first, I was born. I think that if I were to tell you this story without first giving you the context that I was born that you might be confused, and stop me in the middle of the story and ask if this event took place before or after my birth. After all, if I hadn’t of been born yet, what business did I have attending Kindergarten?
Anyways, this particular task involved sequential order, and our ability to look at pictures and place them in a sort of logical order. We were each given a series of cards and asked to put them in the ‘correct’ order. While I can’t remember one hundred percent the details of the cards, I do remember that they involved a cat watching a trash can become full, and then a garbage truck coming and emptying the trash. Well, I noticed that the cat looked happy when the garbage can was full – perhaps it was a stray? – and that it looked awfully sad when the can was emptied. I felt bad for the cat, and figured that the garbage driver probably did, too.
So I arranged the cards in an order, and the teacher looked at my handiwork and frowned. She asked me to tell her about the sequence of events, and what I told her amounted to something like this: “The cat was watching the trash can get full, until the garbage man took it away. But that made the cat sad, so the garbage man brought the trash back and the cat was happy again.” I was told that this was not how things in the world worked, and she re-arranged the cards in the ‘correct’ order. Although I understood what she was getting at, a part of me rebelled – my sequence was correct, too – it was just a different story.
Many years later, when I was a senior in college, I took a class on storytelling. It met once a week and mostly consisted of a few lectures followed by weeks of all of the students telling stories to the class. One of the biggest things my professor stressed was the order of events; he said that stories were more interesting if the events were arranged slightly out of chronological order, weaving between the past and the present. This technique could not only make a story more dynamic, but could also completely change the tone of the story – hell; it could change the story of the story.
There was a time, and I’m not sure when I first felt this, that I wanted to make an abstract comic book. I wasn’t certain how to even start going about doing that. I mean, those academic types sometimes refer to graphic novels and comic books as ‘sequential art’ because the sequence of the pictures and the words are so important to the experience. How does one break down sequence in a purposeful manner and still come out of it making sense?
But then one day, in late 2012, I did it, somehow. I drew random lines and saw a series of harsh straight lines that kind of resembled the panels that you would find in a comic book, and in each of the panels there were images. This took a long time to outline because I wanted the images to have some sort of relation to one another – after all, I’d hate to arrange random panels from random comics. I didn’t end up finishing this drawing until spring 2014 – that was two apartments later!
The cool thing about this drawing is that the ‘story’ of this comic is up to your interpretation; you’re in charge of arranging events into a sequence that tell a story that makes sense to you. There is no kindergarten teacher coming around the circle to tell you that your sequence is ‘wrong’, as there is no absolute ‘right’ sequence in this drawing. If it makes sense to you, then congratulations, you’ve got it! Go play with some toys while the other kids finish their circle time.
Personally, when I look at the drawing, I see the story of a young woman whose depression has kept her confined in her apartment. This has caused her pain, and led her to fall into a depression – she dreams of going somewhere else. After fantasying about getting a car and going to the beach she reaches a moment of grim determination and walks downtown to a store with a strawberry on it, and feels contentment at getting out of her rut.
I didn’t own a car at that time, so it makes more sense to me that the car images would be a dream or a fantasy sequence. Depending on who you are, you probably didn’t have that piece of information to use to your contextual advantage, so that might have changed where you put the car images in the story. Maybe you saw it as the girl driving home from the beach after a vacation, and then feeling a bit of depression at returning to her life working at the Strawberry store. Maybe there are some other things in these drawings that I haven’t even picked up on because I’m so bound and limited by my own personal experiences. Who knows?
Did you see what I was doing with this post? On one hand, I think it’s hilarious when you explain a joke, because that sucks all the humor of out of it. I sort of feel the same way about explaining the literary devices and techniques I use in my writing, since usually the effectiveness of those gambits depend on how subtle the writer is. Sort of like how this post was about sequential order, and how I gave you the feeling of jumping around the timeline of my life, yet at the same time I put events roughly in chronological order. Like I said in the first paragraph, I’m so god-damned clever! Or am I? Maybe I put the events of this post in the wrong order. Maybe I should have introduced the drawing in the present and then gone back to past events as they became relevant to explaining the drawing.
I’d hate to end the post with a sense of self-doubt, so let’s just assume I wrote this posting in the correct sequential order and my kindergarten teacher gave me a gold star. In related news, this drawing was the other drawing I entered in the Rokoko Gallery’s “Spring, Sprang, Sprung” exhibit and holds the honor of being my first abstract drawing to be sold at a gallery.
25 — When I was Young and Pretty
Alex Hinders, 2012.
Colored pencil and pen.
19″ x 25″
This is my first major drawing done at a larger size. The vast majority of my abstract drawings I’ve shared with you on this site so far are done on regular sized pieces of paper — 8.5″ by 11″. I began to wonder, though — was it possible that this size of paper was actually limiting the possibilities of my artwork? Remember that my images start out as random lines. I began to wonder if having a larger drawing space would encourage different kinds of lines, and therefore, different kinds of drawings.
From a technical point of view, I discovered that a larger drawing area allows for longer interrupted lines and gives you a lot more room to swerve and curl around. A side effect of having so much space to work with, however, is that a drawing requires a good deal more work. I’m using colored pencils, so it’s not like painting, where I can purchase brushes of different widths with which to cover large swaths of canvas with quickly. No, I’m using a tiny leaded point, and if I want to create a richer shade I have to go over the same area multiple times with different tiny lead points and then go over the area a final time with a colorless blending stick.
So it takes considerably longer for me to complete a larger drawing. A regular sized abstract drawing takes me between four and ten hours on average to complete; the larger drawings take between 20 and 40 hours. One bad boy — a drawing called This Game is Rigged (I’m Trapped!) — Actually clocked in closer to fifty or sixty. I actually watched/listened to the entire series of the British Sci-Fi-Comedy Red Dwarf while I worked on that one.
I hope you don’t mind, but I’m going to hammer the point in a little here. People working about 20 hours a week are usually considered to be working a part time job, and people who work 40 hours a week are usually considered to be working a full time job. So one of these larger drawings is equivalent to the time spent in a work week. I’m underscoring this point, because these larger drawings are usually done in my free time. 20 to 40 hours is a long time to be doing anything, and it takes a toll on a person.
I know I’m less likely to work on larger drawings than small drawings because, frankly, the small drawings are relaxing and fun. The large drawings start to make me feel anxious and stressed. I often times feel like I’m barely in control of my own artistic process and that it’s threatening to spiral out of my control at any given moment. This is especially true during the coloring phase – I can’t ‘un-do’ any of my coloring. If I make a mistake then I simply have to find a creative solution to keep the quality and the integrity of the image together, and to make it appear that the error was purposeful.
Most people will never see those little errors, or assume that they were as purposefully as the rest of the drawing. I’m sure that one could even argue that ‘mistakes’ are an organic part of the artistic process and are as natural as the lines that are not ‘mistakes.’ But as the artist, I’m keenly aware of what my own intentions are, and how closely the image at hand is measuring up to those intentions. Once the drawing is finished, it’s frozen in time, and those little errors are preserved for eternity. Now, obviously, a person can’t spend their whole life agonizing over little details like that, and I don’t; I try to do the best job that I am able to do. But I’d still prefer as few of those imperfections make their way into the drawing as possible, of course.