no expectations

thoughts on making things--even (maybe especially) pointless things--from artist Gary Panter

What day is it, again?

I have no doubt you’re feeling bombarded with content right now. I know I am. And so I’m not going to write a lot today because I don’t want to leave you feeling any more pressured to either consume or produce.

If you want to make stuff, watch stuff, do stuff, I say: go for it. If not, don’t! These are days to hold what you love, and who you love, close to you—and to find joy where you can find it.

There is one thing I wanted to share, though. I just read something about how we might approach art-making these days (or any day, really) that I really loved. It’s from artist, cartoonist, illustrator, and the Emmy-winning head set designer of Pee Wee’s Playhouse, Gary Panter.

"As a person who lives alone and has no TV watching habit it is easy for me to be alone more.
I like people and know way too many people, so I am not neglected. To feel neglected makes people feel lonely.
I feel lonely sometimes, but time alone is one of my friends. I know friends and loves are out there.
What will I do with myself? I am an artist. It gives me joy and a sense of meaning and even helping to make things. Even pointless things. Maybe especially pointless things. Maybe pointless things contain unconscious truths or questions. Who knows?
In America, worth is mostly measured by fame or money. That’s what people think and it confuses them about art. There is a vast system for selling art and thinking about art tied to money and fame and analysis. And we all need encouragement and to pay the rent so we are susceptible to the delusions of fame and money in America.
But with art, the point is— you got to make it. You were able. You got to spend time quietly or loudly bringing something that was not in the world into the world. Maybe something like something before. Maybe something no-one wants. It doesn't matter. You chose to spend the time trying to do something for private personal satisfaction or frustration— choose either one. Art is time spent doing some little thing that tells you something about yourself. Maybe something very quiet and maybe a revelation and maybe only quiet. The thing you make may have some value to others for some reason or another, but that is a secondary issue. You spent time trying. The secondary issues come secondarily.

In America everyone expects to achieve. But in life— trying, simple trying, has great value.

Try it out. Lower your expectations to achieve some pleasure in the doing of something.

Something. Drawing. Arranging. Sorting. Collecting. Coloring. Washing, Planting. Writing. Singing. Dancing. Editing. Collaging. Cooking. Stirring. Molding. Casting. Pasting. Making playing card towers. Playing records. Face painting.

Not for fame and glory. Not to please others. For simple quiet trying. In the company of time alone. At first it might feel crappy. But if you do something for a while you start feeling differently. Put on ‘No Expectations’ by the Stones."

[Gary Panter via Facebook, shared with permission. Link via Sean Howe.

Here’s a sampling of some of the art I’ve created over the last week just because I wanted to:

Here’s a little Beta drawing for a Tarot deck I’m working on:

Here’s a picture of a door that may be a portal to hell:

Here’s a touch of spring:

And here’s some fan art I drew of my improv buddy Luke Field. Luke’s been doing these amazing Instagram lives where he crochets to heavy metal. The creature I was going for was “badass dragon” but it ended up more like “bat creature.” Anyway, Luke’s rad and he’s got one hell of a slip stitch.