• Sam Smith

Yakuldy Spakuldy: A journey

Updated: Jul 18


I think something that’s hard to do when painting is to know when to stop. It’s very easy to overwork an image which risks killing the lightness, energy and magic of it, making it too heavy and literal. By not explaining every last corner of an image it leaves something to the imagination of the viewer. In this painting I feel like the balance of explaining just enough is exactly what I was looking for.


I remember feeling daunted when I was getting ready for this piece because the canvas was about five times as big that’s what I usually use. To prepare the nerves, I got out a piece of scrap paper and drew very quickly without thinking too much but paying particular attention to being more minimalist than I usually am - using the paint to suggest instead of explain. The feeling of allowing the paintbrush to just brush across the page and using one attempt at each line creates a lot of breathing space and a light effect.


Usually I spend quite a lot of time thinking about how I’m going to approach piece, thinking through the order that I'm going to paint. Predicting the effect of this much of that colour here, that shape there and this pattern over here... I try and understand the painting as a whole before even done it. This is quite a mentally taxing process so for this one I didn't bother trying to understand everything before I doing it. I just followed the breadcrumb trail of my instincts. I painted by putting one foot in front of the other, instead of planning two steps ahead. Before doing the sketch, I had no idea what colour his clothes would be, I just did the sketch, and looked at it. I had to eventually colour everything but didn't think of the whole, I just had a strong internal sense of what colour I wanted next. I paid attention to the intensity and the particular sound and tone of the colour I felt I wanted in the seemingly random sequence that an idea appealed to me. First... a yellow waistcoat!

Once he had a yellow waistcoat, I thought, red spotted neckerchief. Once I'd done that it gave me an idea about what to do next etc. etc.


Why am I telling you this?


Painting often seems like a giant complex network of tasks which is like a puzzle to work out. It's the part of painting that gives it an academic feel. However, I wanted to play with not doing that and just painting without a view to the final piece - doing it meditatively and curiously like a child: 'What colour is the cat? - Black!' Nothing too complex going on here...!


The overall effect of painting in this way created a really lovely free expressive piece where things are suggested and not explained out right. I am so happy with how this turned out and there is something childish and dream like about it which I think is very successful.


The title of the painting is onomatopoeic for the slightly haphazard way I went about painting it and embodies the child like mood and approach. I think there’s a lot of joy in this piece as a result!



Because I like this piece so much I handmade and painted a custom frame for it. I love having it hanging in my room.

'One step in front of the other, have faith and trust the process. Don't worry about how it all fits together' said the big brown dog. He didn't say it with words, he said it in the way he walked... all Yakuldy Spakuldy like. I didn't know where we were going but I looked sharp as a tack in my yellow waistcoat and stripy shirt and it felt good rocking side to side gently jolting with each plod...

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