Lucian Freud at the Royal Academy

A trip to a London gallery is always overwhelming – world famous art in iconic spaces. Hence we had a one day trip to see Lucian Freud: The self portraits at the Royal Academy. Freud was a very private man who seldom gave interviews which adds to the mystery around the man. He had an obsession with his own portrait and continued to sketch and paint himself throughout his life. He often used mirrors to get unusual angles for his work.

I always enjoy seeing the sketchbooks of iconic artists as it always fascinating to get an insight into the thought process and where a final piece came from. Freud created many pencil drawings early in his career and his clean lines and bold features are quite defining of his style. When he moved to oil paint however, this style was lost in abstraction.

The pair of paintings below I think represent Freud at his best. I love the cubist influenced forms of the left painting which gives the face a scrunched appearance or is it a frown. The tones are just wonderful and applied with bold single applications of thick paint – a reminder to myself to not over work paint as the appeal is in the painterly effect. The right hand piece has so much character, the downward glance, the single closed eye, the overall impression of boredom or despair. This was Freud desperately trying to get to the root of his soul and find a deeper meaning in his life.

I tried out a quick sketching style while in the gallery. I quite enjoy a random scribble which is much quicker than a traditional sketch but more importantly I find myself looking at the source far more – and hopefully embedding some of the characteristics of the work. I’d seriously recommend it for loosening up – sketching in such a crowded public space can be quite daunting. Though I did get several very positive comments – always good to get feedback!