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.

A Night of Clarity, Pt. VI

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.


Through Tangerine Eyes

TangerineEyes2Through Tangerine Eyes
Alex Hinders, 2014.
Colored pencils and pen.

I almost didn’t color this one, but in the end I did, mainly because I was bored and this was the first drawing I found. The color scheme consists of warm colors contained within a frame of cold colors. While I can’t exactly say why — sometimes creativity evades logic like that — I felt this drawing shouldn’t have green. I would have been okay with having red in the drawing except for the fact that would be the only color without a complimentary one, and again, I really didn’t want to bring green into this. In retrospect I probably could have gotten away with putting red in the iris of the eye but I don’t really have any regrets on how this turned out.

You might think that you see red in the drawing, but I assure you that’s just a dark orange that’s edging dangerously close to the red zone. My scanner has a hard time picking up subtle variations in orange. Well, I suppose my eyes have a hard time picking up on those, too, which is why I rarely use orange as a dominant color.

As for the meaning of the drawing I get the sense that it’s about looking within and seeing the good parts of yourself that you might have forgotten you have, or have been neglecting lately. Tangerine Eyes are much more practical than Rose-Tinted Glasses.

Could it Be Anybody?


Could it Be Anybody?
Alex Hinders, 2014.
Colored pencils, pen, and Love.

I’m a huge fan of the Beatles. This particular drawing made me think about the song “With a Little Help from my Friends” from the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album. That song has always fascinated me because on the surface it’s a happy little tune, but it asks some interesting questions. I’ve actually always felt that the entire modern notion of romance rests on the answer to one of these questions.

The chorus first asks, “Do you need anybody?” The main persona replies, “I just need someone to love.” Then the chorus asks the pivotal question: “Could it be anybody?” The singer doesn’t give a definitive response to this; instead, he merely replies, “I want somebody to love.” It could be that the singer has trouble with the concept of call and response – after all, he asks himself the question “How do I feel at the end of the day?” But in all likelihood, the singer wasn’t sure of the answer himself.

If the singer had said ‘yes’, then that would mean that any hypothetical lover could be replaced with any other lover. Such an answer completely dispels the modern notion of romance, and of love as being something special and ephemeral. You could see such an answer supporting the ‘free love’ convictions that some flower children had back in the 60’s — that love and sex were meant to be shared with everyone. It’s also the sort of philosophy that underpins the concept of arranged marriage, that the roles of spouse and lovers are merely roles to be assigned to people and nothing more than practical.

If the singer were to answer ‘no’, then modern romance would be safe, but the singer would be left even more vulnerable. After all, this means that the persona of the singer can’t just go out to a bar and replace his former lover with someone new. This means that there’s no end for the persona’s loneliness in sight and the pain they are experiencing is going to continue. It’s entirely possible that the singer will never find another person that makes him feel like he did before – making his suffering endless. Clearly, this is a heavy question, indeed.

Joe Cocker has a cover of this song that recognizes what is really at stake. His version — which you might have heard as the theme song to the TV show ‘The Wonder Years’ — turns the tune into a hopeful ballad with elements of gospel and soul. Gospel and Soul have a connection to the church, which has attempted since ancient times to provide answers to the biggest existential questions we face as humans. I feel this psychologically contributes to the emotional gravitas of this version of the song – “Could it be anyone?” briefly becomes a question so important it’s propelled into the same arena as questions like “Why are we here?” and “What are we supposed to do with our life?”

…And questions like “Will Fred Savage ever get with Winnie Cooper?”

Anyway, my answer to the question of ‘Could it be anybody?’ has always been ‘no’ – though sometimes I wonder if life wouldn’t be easier if the answer could just be ‘yes’.  Thank you for reading Magical Hamster: The Classic Rock Blog. Please come back next week when we do something a little out of the ordinary and look at “Ode to Billie Joe” by  Bobbie Gentry. At long last I’ll reveal the truth about Billie Joe, his connection to the persona of the singer, and where extraterrestrial forces fit in.


A Night of Clarity, Pt. V

A Night of Clarity, Pt. V
Alex Hinders, 2014.
Colored pencils and pen.

At this point in the story the man groggily wakes up and realizes he’s kind of horny. He asks his wife if she wants to have sex, but she doesn’t, so the man falls asleep frustrated. This prompts him to have a sexual dream involving the Hitchhiker Woman from his previous dreams. The Hitchhiker Woman, being a fantasy, is more than willing to help the man find relief. After a rollicking roll in the hay the man wakes up, confused, and his wife tells him he was having a nightmare. However, the man realizes he’s still in a dream as he watches his wife eat a sandwich with a puppy in it.


Magic DNA

MagicDNAMagic DNA
Alex Hinders, 2014.
Colored pencil, pen, and marker.

Initially I thought this was a cool design, but one not worth coloring. Try looking at the image and imagining it devoid of color — simply black and white. It becomes kind of tame without the color; the drawing is just a bunch of squiggles and shapes. I thought about how I would color this, though, and I realized it would need an intricate color scheme to make it interesting. I decided that since I had no real emotional attachment to the design that I’d do a little experiment with color on this one.

Now remember, my education was centered on writing and literature and not art. One piece of advice often given to writers is that you have to know the rules before your can break them. Over my time at the University of Iowa I decided this is a most excellent piece of advice not just for writers but for people in general. Rules are general guidelines that have been put in place after years of observation to insure that things run smoothly. But, again, rules are general guidelines, and aren’t absolute laws of the cosmos drilled into the very nature of the universe. One day you may discover a situation in which you find another way to keep things going smoothly that goes against the conventional wisdom — and it might just be awesome.

With this drawing, I was flirting with conventional wisdom about the use of color. Back when I was in high school I was introduced to the concept of complimentary colors, and after a few quick exercises, I grasped their power. We were also taught about a particular kind of color scheme called ‘every color in the box’, which involves using every color available for you in one drawing just for the heck of it. It usually leads to an unbalanced color scheme that is unpleasing to the eye.

While I didn’t literally use every color in the box with this drawing, I did use all of the colors in the rainbow, excluding indigo. This can be tricky because as you add more colors it becomes harder to maintain balance in the composition. In my attempt at a non-conventional color scheme I tried to balance the chaotic amount of color with a number of patterns to ground it in a sort of order.

First, let’s check out the background. I mean, not to boss you around, or anything. If you really don’t want to look at the background I won’t force you. But notice the left half of the outer-most background uses the cool colors (green, blue, and purple) while the other half uses the warm colors. (red, orange, and yellow.) I followed the conventional wisdom and tried not to place two areas of the same color next to each other — to the best of my ability, anyway. Now on top of this layer are a series of circles, ovals, and the bastard children of ovals and triangles. Each of them is the complimentary color to the segment beneath them, which makes them go together. On the right hand-outermost I did a similar thing, except I put the hot colors on the bottom and the cooler colors on the top.

Now working inwards from either side, there are long wormy shapes next to these circles, ovals, and triovalangels. Notice that the wormy shapes are the complimentary color to them. So from the back ground you have a color scheme going cool, hot, cool. (Or hot, cool, hot if you look at it the other way.) In between the wormy shapes are squat little ovals that compliment one of the wormies near it. This is a little less apparent due to the fact my scaner has a hard time discerning the difference between red and orange. The negative space between the wormies is divided into two colors, with each half complimenting the color of the worm closest to them.

In the circular area around the big blue shark tooth in the bottom-center you’ll notice I struggled to maintain the balance a bit more. All of the patterns were running into each other at this point and I tried to keep things complimenting each other as best I could, though it doesn’t work completely.

But just put all of that out of your mind. Now let’s look at the assortment of shapes in the top-center of the drawing. The negative space behind these floating shapes is divided into the six easily identifiable colors — which is everything minus indigo.

On top of this semi-hexagonal area of six colors, the shapes do not correspond to the colors beneath them. This is because it would break the rule of not putting two of the same color next to each other and cause a sort of redundancy. It may seem odd to you that I went out of my way to obey this rule, but remember, the only rule I set out to break was the rule of using too many colors at once. The way I thought I could subvert this was by over-obeying other rules to make up for the one I was breaking. So instead of being complimentary to the color underneath them, these shapes are complimentary to at least one other shape beside them. That gets around the problem of color redundancy but also has a semblance of order to it.

And that was the method behind the madness in this drawing. I’m sure some people — or perhaps even most people — will look at this drawing and assume the coloring is all random. It’s totally not, guys. However, if someone argues that this experiment was ultimately a failure, then I won’t really feel offended. After all, this was an experiment — I had no idea if this idea would work out or not. To be honest, I’m not one-hundred percent certain it did work, but I do feel as though I learned something important while working on this. I can’t quite say what it is I learned, but I felt that my general level of art-knowledge increased afterwards.

And that’s why I colored the picture all crazy like I did.



Alex Hinders, 2014.
Colored pencils and pen.

If you trace the rolls of film backwards to the darker colored girl, then the film cells are memories. But if you follow them from in the opposite direction then they’re ideas and dreams about possible futures. So, either the figure on the left is looking at a projection of herself from the past, or the figure on the right is attempting to project herself into the future and imagine what she’ll be. It might even be that they’re both projecting each other at the same time — and maybe it’s this constant state of projection that holds us together. Or maybe not; who knows?

The Fairy Sequence, Pt. VIII

The Fairy Sequence, Pt. VIII
Alex Hinders, 2013/2014.
Colored pencil and pen.

The Fairy slam-dunked the evil mixture into her cauldron of cleansing solution, thereby destroying the vile liquid. Angered, the Warlock cried that given time, he could gather the ingredients required to make another batch of the transformation potion, so this was only a temporary loss for him. The Fairy disagreed — she said that she’d spread word about the potion, its effects, and its creator far across the land. This way, should the potion ever be used, people would see the transformed creature as a victim and instantly know who the culprit was.

The logic in this statement pierced the cloud of anger that was fogging the Warlock’s mind, and he stomped off, disgruntled. The Fairy stayed true to her word and made sure that the entire continent knew about the potion and how to reverse the effects; The Fairy even sent a personal communication to the Wizard concerning the Warlock’s scheme. Having foiled the plans of an infamous villain, the Fairy gained a good deal of respect from the greater magical community, as well as from her fellow countrymen. Things were only looking up for the Fairy and her future seemed brighter than ever; the warlock was at an all-time low and returned to the shadows, sulking.