• Sam Smith

Piz-Piz

Updated: Jul 18

I painted this in the beginning of June 2022 during an acceleration in my work both in terms of the flow with which it came out and the depth and complexity of the subject matter. I feel I became more articulate and more able to portray complex ideas around this time.

I noticed this after I created a timeline of my work [see here]. As I see it there is a shift which takes place around mid-May - on noticing it, I wasn't sure what the cause of that change was. It took me about a day to realise what inspired this evolution. It really excited me to work out what it was. During this period of about 3 weeks, every day, over breakfast I would read a biography on Picasso. There was a message that transmitted across from reading about Picasso's life: you are allowed to paint however you like and work is a constant discovery and evolution.


I can often get weighed down by the idea that I have to understand my work / idea before committing it to paper, but the wise 'me' is beginning to understand that it's not always necessary and potentially not even desirable.


This painting was painted without taking the time to deconstruct why I was painting it : the image was in my mind following a dream I had had where I was moving into the unknown and there was a vast ocean of space in front of me. The connection I felt to that feeling as well as a curiosity about the image was enough justification to spend the time to paint it. It was in this spirit that I named the painting 'Piz-piz'. A little story that stood out from the biography on Picasso was when as a young boy he felt the urge to draw, he would ask for a pencil saying "piz-piz" (lapiz is Spanish for pencil). In my mind the short phrase evokes the simple desire to draw without the neurotic adult baggage of having to justify it. It is such a pure spirit to work with and I aim to paint in this way (easier said than done).


Looking at the painting long after the act of painting it, I interpret it as a portrayal of a metaphorical journey into the unknown (the destination is not in the frame of the painting). The big triangular sail seems to be pointing it starkly to the right (time moves from left to right - the future being on the right). This is no speed boat, it is a sailing boat, and the pace is not dictated wholly by those on board... The wind will dictate the pace as will the invisible currents; life will play out somewhat at its own will. The Captain is not alone, he has his trusted companion: Happy the dog, and they are both safely contained by a solid-looking wooden boat sailing in a mystical atmosphere. Our will and desire (the actively poised dog) move us forward in mind but the patiently seated Captain somewhat reserves his energy (although the periscope shows he still would like to see into the future) as he directs the boat, knowing that the uncontrollable forces of nature play a part in the taking us where we are going.


Below are some progress shots to show how it developed visually.



Notes: It took me over a week to recognise the Captain as the logo for one of my first artistic incarnations: Captain Smith (see below). The dog is also a real dog: my friend's dog, Happy, who I look after when she goes away.





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