An Artist’s Work is Never Done: 82 Unfinished works of Alex Hinders

Sometimes, as a creative person, I get frustrated. As a society we put little value into art and even less value into artists. I suppose some of this is influenced by our muddled economy which makes purchasing art difficult for the average part — and I understand that bit. (I’d love to be able to support my fellow artists.) But sometimes I get the feeling that society, as a whole, would see more value in me if I worked any random nine-to-five job than it would if I were an artist. And that’s because, you know, work is work, and art is just playing around.

While it’s true that art has both a spiritual and recreational element to it, it also takes plenty of time and energy. Some people will look at the body of an artist’s work and say, “Look at all of this art! Look at how much work they do!” But I don’t believe that gives us a full picture of how much work an artist does. That’s because we usually only see somebody’s finished works and assume that’s everything they’e done. But the truth is, lots of works go unfinished.

This unfinished work is invisible to the public. After all, what’s the point in seeing a work of art if it isn’t complete? Sometimes the sketchbooks of artists do get published and sometimes people are indeed curious about them. But that’s about all the unfinished work seems to be — something trivial. Something to be consumed quickly, forgotten, and then discarded.

But this unfinished work was indeed work. It took time, energy, and spirit. I happen to have a good deal of unfinished drawings that I keep in a folder. On each of these drawings I probably spent between an hour and three hours. They’re not unfinished because I’m a lazy person. These drawings are unfinished because either something in my life distracted me or I felt that my time would be better used working on some other project.

So I present to you the following thesis: In order to fully appreciate the work that an artist does you must also see their unfinished works.

With that in mind, here’s 82 unfinished drawings from between the years 2011 and 2015.
I’ve tried to label the year when they were started but they might not be entirely accurate. For some reason I can look at a drawing and remember where I was when I made it. Then I just figure out which apartment I was living in back then and then I have a year or a range of years when it could have been made. I realize these works are unfinished, but they represented my life and my mind at the time they were drawn, so I feel the year is important to note.

Here comes the music.


2011. This was another drawing done in the wake of my break-up with the Purple Girl. Part way into coloring this drawing I realized I was sick of dwelling on this subject and just stopped. I find it really fascinating when you ( and I) can see the point where I stopped coloring. Notice, also, that this drawing was set to feature a good deal of red and purple — perhaps if I had finished it then I would have gone through my red and purple phase sooner? It seems the seeds were already planted in my mind somewhere. .

2012/2013. This was going to be another drawing featuring the Detective.

Very late 2012/ Very early 2013. I was not pleased with some of the changes at my workplace.I wasn’t pleased with how the black mixed with the red in this piece so I just shelved the drawing all together.


2014. I was undergoing a regeneration of sorts. In the long running British Sc-Fi TV show, Doctor Who, the title character will occasionally regenerate into a new body with a slightly different personality. This was me undergoing such an experience.

2013. A drawing inspired by The Legend of Zelda series. I guess a lot of people don’t see the owl as an iconic symbol for the series anymore but it was heavily featured from the Game Boy game to the N64 title. This would have been a drawing where I got to play with the gold colored pencil.

2013. A drawing inspired by the Sonic the Hedgehog series.
2011/2012. A reference to the video game Earthbound. (Mother 2 in Japan.)
2014. A reference to the video game Mother 3.
2014. A reference to the video game Chrono Cross.

2014. This was going to be a reflection on the fact it was the first year where I missed Iowa’s beautiful season of Autumn.

2012/2013. I had colored something kind of like this drawing, so I skipped it in favor of something else.


Late 2013. This was an impression I had of New Mexico buildings when I first visited the area.


Unknown year. I only used the smaller tipped pen for this and it had an interesting effect. Because of this, however, I have no idea when it was actually made.

2011/2012. This drawing seemed to have something to do with animals.


2013. Lots of cute girls.

2012/2013. This one is one of the unfinished drawings that really lingers in my mind. It’s working title was “The Military-Industrial Complex,” and that’s what it was about.

The Pirate, Pt. I
Alex Hinders, 2012.
Colored pencil and pen.

This one is pretty much finished, I guess. I used the wrong shade of green on a portion of the treasure map and I never thought of a way to even out the colors to make it work. I suppose I could finish it now but it feels like a drawing done by a person very far away from the person I am now. So I’m sort of leaving it in peace.

The Pirate, Pt. 2.
The basically plot line of the Pirate Sequence was that the Pirate found a treasure chest that he couldn’t open. He didn’t know it, but the chest was haunted by a ghost who needed his help but couldn’t communicate with the Pirate. I think there was a third drawing to the sequence, too, but I can’t find it now.

2013. I was going to go with a watery color scheme for this one.

2013. I was going to try to color the bunnies in bright neon colors but this drawing was never a high priority for me. I eventually forgot about it.

Late 2012. This was another drawing dealing with the Sphinx’s riddle. This time the riddle had to do with the future.

2011. This was a bit more of an experimental piece. I was never sure if I really liked it or not.

Late 2012. This was Tripitaka, the Monk who went to get some scriptures along with The Monkey King and a few other monster spirits.

2012. The working title for this one was going to be “Funeral.” I was really going to experiment with dark colors on this one. However, I couldn’t really discern anything in the background and that lessened my enthusiasm.


2013. I think that the magician was evil.


2011. This was an abstract landscape of sorts. I was going to color it with the ‘sky’ colors on the land and the ‘land’ colors in the sky.

2013. Young Heroine Sequence. This was a series of drawings about the Heroine when she was younger — she lived in a castle and wasn’t allowed to leave.

2013. Young Heroine Sequence, Pt. II. The Young Heroine learned swordplay from her father who was a knight for the kingdom.

2013. Young Heroine Sequence, part something. I don’t think this was part three, or if it was directly related to the previous two drawings. But clearly the Young Heroine finds a genie somewhere in the castle and is allowed to make a wish.


2013. This is what the Heroine was up to during the Fairy Sequence. There was also a drawing form this time that featured the Heroine meeting the Pirate on this same mountain path but I can’t find it now.

2013. This is what the Wizard was up to while the Warlock was watching him in the Fairy Sequence, Pt. V.  He seemed to be helping the fairies with something.

2014. A drawing of the Heroine.

2013. A drawing of The Heroine, myself, and the Fairy. In this drawing The Fairy was taking a lot more visual cues from Nina of the Breath of Fire series, who I think my sub-conscious mind was inspired by.
2014. It looks like the Heroine was dealing with some interesting characters at the time.
2014. This was going to be another drawing for my Wizard’s children book. It turned out nice enough, but the Wizard was stylistically more similar to how he appeared in the Heroine Sequence than in the Wizard Sequence.


2013. Another golem

2012/2013. This was either a golem or a mummy.

2012. Someone looking at a high school student.


2013: I’m not sure what’s going on in this one.
2011: Inspired by Doctor Who.
2012: Something more domestic.
2013: An astronaut repairing a damaged part of the ship.
2012: At the time I thought this might be Final Fantasy inspired, but now I don’t think that’s quite right.
2011/2012: Fun fact — the night after I scanned this image I had a nightmare about the scorpion monster. In this dream I had a roommate and the scorpion monster was her pet. It ran around the room making this awful noise. I was terrified! My roommate tried to tell me that this sound meant it was happy but it was just so scary! I woke up and realized the ‘happy’ noises coming from the scorpion monster were just the squeaking of my hamster’s wheel.


2012: I thought about coloring this one but I felt it would look too much like the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde drawing.
2011/2012: I thought this would be fun for experimenting with something to make it look ghostly. However, I wasn’t sure if this was an offensive use of stereotyping or not, so I figured I’d just shelve it. I always have plenty of things to color, after all.
2013/2014: Tripitaka has a monkey on his back — and unfortunately, it’s the Monkey King.
2013: I drew this one while watching Buffy. I think it’s supposed to represent the character of Anya who becomes rather enamored with being a shopkeeper. It probably works on a level just regarding money and capitalism, though.
Unknown year. That’s me, holding a hamster.
2012/2013: A soldier salutes a lady — or is it a mermaid? Hard to say.
2012: This is a picture of a person cut up. I thought it was ugly so I skipped it.
Unknown year: A bunch of abstract shapes. You can tell the marker I was using was drying out. That doesn’t matter when I’m first outlining a drawing, since I have to re-outline everything after I color it.
2012/2013: Mickey and Minnie Mouse being expelled from the Garden of Eden. I liked the concept but I didn’t like how the mice came out.
2015. A person and some shapes. I still might color this one someday.
2015. This might have been a follow up to Puzzle Game.
2015. A dragon is perched on top of a cliff. I really disliked his torso — it looked like a Lego brick.
2015. An alligator riding a lawnmower. I think this would look pretty good on a t-shirt.
2014/2015: A phoenix.
2014. I just thought this one was ugly.
2016. I thought a good title for this one would be “Alex is Cold.”
2015. Abstract shapes.
2015. More abstract shapes.
2014/2015. Chaos and confusion!
2015. I’m not sure why I stopped coloring this one. There’s nothing wrong with it, really.
2012/2013. A very nice looking head, for sure. But I couldn’t see anything else in the drawing.
2014/2015: This seemed like a pretty cool drawing, but I didn’t know what to do with all of that negative space. I couldn’t see anything below the window the lady is peaking out of.
2011: That’s myself staring through a time portal looking at my past-self on the computer.
2012/2013. A drawing about income disparity.
2011/2012. A guru-looking fellow stands beneath a bell. If you look in the pencil lines next to him you’ll see a lady seems to be seeking his advice — or worrying about the strength of the rope tied to the bell.
2012/2013. An archway.
2015. A rather unenthusiastic self portrait.
2015. This was actually an emotional reaction to a crappy job I had that involved food service. The customers were lovely people but the guy I took orders from? Well…He’s taking on the form of a rather militaristic chef here.
Year unknown. It’s a lot harder for me to pinpoint the year on a drawing if it’s completely abstract, it seems.
2015. I did this one around the same time as One Letter.
2015. This is a reference to Pink Floyd’s The Wall. Through out the course of the performance a wall is being built on stage and during the last song of the first act Roger Waters sings a song with only his head visible. Afterwards, the last brick is put in place and the rest of the narrative takes place entirely ‘behind the wall’ — that is, to say within the protagonist’s the mind. The wall is a concrete metaphor, you see. This is sort of blurring the performance of the album with the narrative of the recorded album, though.
2015. The tentative title for this one was “At Least I Have a Hamster.”
2015. Some sort of abstract castle, perhaps? I imagined bright swirling greens and blues in this one.
2015. Sitting on a block with her back to some sort of crazy rainbow-seashell world.
2015. Working title was “Alex is tied in knots.”
2014/2015. A damsel in emotional distress.
2014/2015. Working title is “A Hamster in the Hand.”
2014/2015. I think this was going to be another part in the self portrait series.

Graphic Novel


Graphic Novel
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.


Backlog #5: Falling Down

Alex Hinders, 2012.
Colored pencil and pen.

This was drawn in the same batch of drawings as Exhausted during the tail-end of 2012. Unfortunately, this is also the reason why this drawing hasn’t been colored just yet. The color scheme for this that I’d like to do is basically the same as the one for Exhausted — Green vortex in the background, and a red person in the middle. It would be boring for me to go about doing the same color scheme so soon, so I skipped it and went about coloring other drawings. I still haven’t gotten around to going back and finishing this one up; maybe someday.




Alex Hinders, 2012.
Colored pencil and pen.

This is a framed portrait of me. It might look a little bit like a stained-glass window, but I assure you that it’s just an abstract background the photopographer chose. I’m not the type of person that gets depicted in stained-glass windows; glass just doesn’t flatter my body.

Wondrous Shape, Unfolded

Wondrous Shape, Unfolded
Alex Hinders, 2012.
Colored Pencil and pen.

This is a wondrous shape flattened into a two dimensional image. If you get out your scissors and your tape — maybe even some glue — you can reconstruct this wondrous shape in it’s three-dimensional glory. Unfortunately, there are no instructions on how to go about doing this, so you’ll either have to accept it’s current form as wonderful enough or be content at imagining what the shape might be.

Little Lost Girl

Little Lost Girl
Alex Hinders, 2012.
Colored pencil and pen.

Being an adult is a funny thing. We have a rough biological time-span at which point we declare a person an adult on a physical level, but part of becoming an adult is also a social occurance. Then, even with both of those things considered, people will still act childishly from time to time. It’s natural. But when that happens, we get this flashback to back when we were actual children — and not adults acting childishly — of adults telling our child-selves to act like an adult. How can we expect a child to act like an adult if adults fail at it regularly?

I was trying to make it through my teen years, but over time that goal slowly morphed into trying to make it through my twenties. I’m pretty certain at some point in there I technically became an adult — I might have even become an adult twice, come to think of it.  But sometimes I just feel like I’m a super teenager. This leads me to wonder if a thirty-year old is just a super twenty-year old, and so on down the line, until we eventually reach a definite answer on what adulthood is or die in the pursuit of such an answer.

It’s a silly thing, really. I’m not a kid. So why is it that sometimes I feel like a little lost girl? This conflict is a part of being human, for some reason or another, and in private conversations with other people I’ve heard them say that they’ve encountered this paradox occasionally as well. So while I don’t have anymore of any answer as to why this is something we go through, here’s an abstract drawing attempting to illustrate this puzzling feeling.

Casting Spells

Casting Spells
Alex Hinders, 2012.
Colored pencil and pen.

This drawing depicts a witch casting a series of magical spells. I’m rather fond of the notion that the use of magic warps the fabric of time, space, and maybe reality, if that’s a separate thing. That’s the reason why the Wizard didn’t like to use magic to battle the Warlock in The Wizard Sequence Part IX — the use of magic ends up damaging the natural world, even if it’s not obvious.

I suppose this drawing represents how sometimes I’d like to manipulate the universe for my own purposes. Change society here, remove obstacles there — you know what I mean. Even though I’m fairly sure what we change would be different, most people can think of a few things about the world they wouldn’t mind changing if they stumbled upon unlimited power. But that’s the sort of thing that breaks down the chain of cause and effect. You get rewards without doing the work and you accomplish goals without learning important lessons and losing parts of yourself — those little sacrifices that shape your character. Once you eliminate the journey, the destination is just an arbitrary point in space.

But that’s, of course, the adult and rational part of my mind speaking. It’s still a tempting thought to just cast a magic spell and be done with it.


Alex Hinders, 2012.
Colored pencil and pen.

I was worn out when this picture was drawn. For one thing, I had just finished a five month project at work. Then after I had finished working I couldn’t quite adjust to being on stand-by mode and felt an anxious need to be busy. So between October and December 2012 I produced a large amount of artwork — and some of it was among my best yet. The overall effect of this art rush, however, was that I was worn out. Exhausted. Even though I usually discourage myself from taking a ‘break’ from art, as I find it’s best to stay in the habit, in this instance I allowed myself a month and a half off from abstract art. I’m happy to report that I’m well-rested — from an artistic standpoint — and working on art once more.

Big Happy Turtle

Big Happy Turtle
Alex Hinders, 2012.
Colored pencil and pen.

You’ll notice that this is not a picture of a small angry turtle; nor is it a picture of a medium sized yet well-adjusted turtle. This is a drawing of a big and happy turtle. Why be sad? Why draw pictures of small turtles? This, my friends, is a drawing about a big happy turtle.

Click to enlarge.