{st}art - Lucian Freud
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By Christie Stockstill
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NEW (4/13/15): Five or six years ago I went to Arch Cape, Oregon for a creative photography retreat. It was far more than a photography workshop. It was an inspiring and creative. I left there determined, refreshed, and reminded of my love of art. One thing I brought home with me was the idea that one who wants to create art should continue to study art, which I did, but not as dedicatedly as I should. Maybe a year later, I was in the airport in New Orleans and grabbed a copy of Vanity Fair for the trip home. In the back, there was a lengthy article about Lucian Freud, the eccentric painter and grandson of Sigmund Freud. It was so fascinating I wanted to share his story and his work with others and maybe, in doing so, do what I hadn't done well before: really dig in and study an artist and his/her work. So I began writing a weekly series of blog posts called {st}art.  As in 'start' studying and exploring art. 

These were all on my old blog,and when I moved to the new blog, I thought I'd lost them all. At one point I must have had a moment of clarity, though, because I saved them to an external harddrive and just found them all! Yay! I didn't actually write that many before I got "too busy" and stopped writing. Plus, it didn't seem like anyone was really reading them anyway, and it became difficult to make myself do the work as an exercise merely for myself (and maybe two other people,) but I'm going to give it another go. 

Why? Well, first, because I need to. Second, I'm actually heading back to Arch Cape in a little over a month to co-teach with the very artist who set me on this artistic path in the first place! Last, today I am starting an onine course with ClickinMoms. I'm actually taking the course myself because there is so much value in continuing to learn and grow, and also because it seems to have a strong focus on truly observing and internalizing art in its many forms.

So, the post below is my first ever {st}art post-- the original one motivated by the Vanity Fair article on Lucian Freud. I will post the other {st}art posts along the way, and I intend to do a better job of studying art and writing about it, and not just visual art, but also music and poetry.


The Original {st}art Post: In the New Orleans airport we grabbed about six magazines to read on the plane and (since I had just recently seen two documentaries on Annie Leibovitz) I grabbed a Vanity Fair. 

Toward the back of the magazine, I found what I was looking for - an article not just about art, but about an artist.  A portraitist. To say he was a prolific artist would be an understatement--an impassioned and dedicated, if not obsessed and even odd man named Lucian Freud. Yes, Freud, as in the grandson of Sigmund Freud.  

I first saw his self-portrait and a photo of Freud with a naked woman at his feet. (He was painting them [the woman and himself] by looking in a mirror.) There are a lot of naked people in his portraits, in fact, but don’t try to get all psychological on him.  He was a very private person and he didn’t want his famous grandfather and his history to inform the way one viewed his work.  (Although, I recommend reading the article in Vanity Fair, February 2012. His story is fascinating. I can’t stop reading it.) 

He was 88 when he died last year, and he painted feverishly up until his death. To get as much done as possible, he would paint one model in the morning and another in the afternoon, and sessions frequently went well into the night. He knew he had so much work still to do and very little time to get it done, and for the last fifty-seven years of his life he painted standing up because of the restrictions of painting sitting down. The idea disturbs me, that of knowing your time on Earth is wrapping up, and feeling like you have still so much creativity left, so many ideas to share, so very much to move from your mind’s eye to the canvas.  How tortuous.

I’m anxious to share some of his work here and curious to know your thoughts on it.  Lucian Freud had been called the best realist painter living and one of his pieces sold for nearly $34 million, the highest price for a piece while the artist was still alive.  Critics of his work find it almost grotesque, the way he portrays his subjects the way they really are with stiff brushes, huge and many strokes and paint on top of paint on top of paint. He spent hours and hours over months and months interacting with his subjects, seeing them in different states, getting to know them, studying them and deconstructing them, determined to paint the real essence of a person. 

Freud was eccentric to say the least. He was a bit of a hermit.  He had several failed marriages, many lovers, and fourteen children he recognized as his own. He seemed unbothered by societal expectations.  He was a painter first, and if you could accept that, then you were welcome to be part of his life.  Most of his children sat for him, accepting that as a means to get to know their father.  In a way, I envy him - his unapologetic dedication to himself and his work.  He was possessed by it. I imagine he might have gone mad without the means to move those visions from his head to his canvases.  


I’m drawn to work that shows reality.  I love portraits that show the raw and gritty nature of a person, wrinkles, freckles, full-figured, exhausted, whatever. I can’t spend 120 hours observing my clients, but I can seek their truth, and I can attempt to portray them the way they really are: delighted, tired, pouting, innocent or having a melt(or break)down.  I want to show that.

What do you see in these paintings? Does anything move you? Bother you? Do you like the rawness? The thick brush strokes? The light? The shadows?

Double Portrait




Eli and David


Man in A Mackintosh


Reflection (Self Portrait)


The Painter Surprised By A naked Admirer


Freud Painting In His Studio 2


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