Saturday, July 23, 2011

City Views, Country Dreams

Good evening from New York, on a Saturday night when the temperature has just drifted a bit below 100 degrees F. Let us rejoice. If the anticipated thunderstorm arrives before midnight, we might actually have some sort of easier atmosphere by dawn.

As I type out these complaints about temporary temperatures, my deeper reason for tonight's post is to give a tribute to a very fine artist, Lucian Freud, whose work encouraged me to try my hand at etching and to continue my attempts at painting.

I am showing you a few of my favorite LF images from a book I bought years ago...possibly from the original Tate's bookshop. Over the decades, I also made a point of making sure to visit Freud's exhibitions at his New York gallery. I really studied those shows, and also various museum exhibits.

Did he not draw well? Did he not know how to make etchings? Did he not influence many other artists?

I love the linear works, and also really, really loved his observations of nature, as shown in this painting. These seem so very different from the very well publicized and regarded portraits.

The following picture was done many years ago. As I grow older, I recognize that I will never be able to make the art that I dream of making. Maybe that is why I will always want to take another look at the works that I loved to see years ago when I thought my dreams might amount to something.

The following photo of a page from a book is not a good photo, but I love seeing its contrasts, what is shown, what is hidden, what is left to the viewer to unravel.

As many of the artists whom I grew up with leave this world, it is a challenge for me to remain interested in the current Scene. Some of that group of artists do interest me, but not too many.

Perhaps this is an invitation for me to try to actually find out what art I just might be able to make in whatever time is still left to my own personal calendar.

Mind you, dear readers, all this post might be a result of the extreme summer heat now cloaking New York.

Best wishes to you all.


  1. Perhaps it is the heat that is making you a bit wistful, Frances. More and more I find that I am, like you, challenging myself to explore the up and coming in whatever field - art, music, writing. We know what we like and where we're comfortable but we also know that it's necessary for us to explore new techniques, new genres and new schools of thought if we're to stay out of the mental rocking chair. I think I'll continue this comment in an email!

  2. Oh yes, stay out of the mental rocking chair! But I am not someone that has a fine appreciation of art - possibly because I have never been taught but also because I suspect that I know what I like. So why do I have a dozen original artworks in my house (none of them valuable I hasten to add)? Lucian Freud's portraits always left me cold where they didn't positively revolt me. But thee drawings, now look interesting and I suspect I could live with them. Thanks for opening my mind and pushing the rocking chair away. You have saved a few more brain cells from the dreaded Dr A who waits, ready to spring out at us all.

  3. "I don't know anything about art but I know what I like".

    A phrase frequently used (not by me) by some closed mind who will not try to discover anything new or anything veering away from his/her own narrow field of vision. 'If it's not pretty I don't like it' kind of thing.

    I don't find LF's work comfortable but there's no doubt that he was an accomplished artist whose fame was based on solid craftsmanship as well as great artistry.

    Good for you, Frances, we may be in the latter half of our time on earth, but that doesn't mean that we need to shut up shop mentally or intellectually, or indeed, in our appreciation of the world's treasures.

  4. I remember standing entranced by a huge nude by LF in the Met in NY. His paint strokes and colours were matchless.

    I also remember some etchings by LF at a British Contemporary Art Fair about 15 years ago - at the time just about affordable and I admit to being very tempted to blow my savings and buy one. Why didn't I? Suppose I came over all cautious!


  5. Frances, thanks for this lovely and very personal tribute. You've also introduced me to his drawings, which I was ignorant of, knowing only his more famous paintings. I think very, very few are given this sort of talent, and in the end what's important is that he served as inspiration to you. Coincidentally, I am reading his daughter Esther's latest novel at the moment, Lucky Break. Sigmund certainly spawned a gifted family!

  6. Oh Frances....are we ever satisfied with our own *art* - whatever that might be? I love your work - you know that. The picture you sent me is and will remain one of my most prized possessions... I would love LOVE to see more of your work and do wish you'd post more on the blog...

    I liked Freud - but am ignorant as to the breadth of his work - now feel I should explore.

  7. I love LF's portraits but am not familiar with his drawings. Thank you for sharing them - beautiful.

  8. So much to unravel indeed, Frances. That is a new image to me, but in one short glance there are a dozen narratives running through my mind. I adore the power of an artist who makes one think.

  9. I think the heat
    and no thunderstorm is making us all quite batty.....

    However, you are tight in wanting to get back to your art roots.

    Yes, Freud was a splendid draftsman.
    I too am having a problem taking an interest in contemporary stuff.....
    just getting ancient I guess!

  10. I just read your two posts – I am way behind as we went to Tennessee to welcome our newest grandson then I have spent too many hours watching the Tour de France on TV. I have knitted a blanket for the baby and am finishing two smaller ones to cover the baby when in his car seats. I like the colors you used in your socks. I have to start another baby blanket for another baby expected by a friend of my daughter and his partner and I am not sure about the yarn color.

    I think Freud’s paintings were amazing – the reality he placed in the skin color – I mean the flesh in his portraits was almost incandescent. I like his portrait of Queen Elizabeth. I hope your weather is getting better – it was hard for me to believe that New York and Minnesota were warmer than Atlanta but they were.

  11. He did indeed draw beautifully, his drawings show great observation and technical ability.

    I think all artist's feel that they cannot make the art that they dream of, the important thing is to keep on dreaming, chasing those images and keep on struggling to capture them on paper or canvas.

    I hope the weather breaks soon!

  12. It's always shocking when someone so famous dies, even though it's inevitable. I'm a fan of Freud's work, his voice was very individual and very strong, a real powerhouse I've always thought, and I've always admired his technique in painting and drawing, he was a Master. I salute him! Vanessa xxx

  13. LOVE that drawing of the bird..I've never seen Freud's drawings before that I remember..

  14. The drawings are beautiful - I had never seen them before. I am sorry that you have such unbearable heat - I always find it impossible to think and work in high temperatures. It's the opposite here - positively wintry - a really grey and dreary summer.

    Pomona x

  15. Pick up your brushes Frances - you may never be LF but you have marks to make that will take you on journeys of your own.

    And Freud? Hugely powerful work, superb draughtsman and great contributor to the world of figurative painting. Would have loved to have sat for him. Sadly that's one ambition I can now cross off the list.

  16. Lucien Freud's paintings of obese
    nudes showed a man who is willingly
    studying a body for days on end that
    most of us would prefer covered up.
    I think that directness of reality
    was what made many people uncomfortable with his later paintings,we as with your love for fashion like to dress and disguise
    our bodies ,but what remains underneath is truly out unique identity ,if we choose to face it.

  17. Thank you Frances, you have posted a lovely tribute to Freud. I knew nothing of his art work of drawings before so this has opened up a new meaning for me. As you know Frances I am soo passionate about art, I do tend to though steer towards the pretty Impressionism of the art world but love discovering a genre of art by other artists I have not seen before.

    You are a very gifted artist Frances, I do hope one day soon you do decide to have your wonderful water-colours exhibited in a local NY Gallery.


  18. I've been trying to comment on this post since it first appeared in my blog roll, Frances. I'm so glad you wrote this wonderful tribute to an artist I admired greatly. It's absolutely brilliant to see those drawings too. Thank you so much for sharing them.

  19. The photo from the book, I could look at it for hours. The window separating the outside from the inside giving the awareness of the possibility of a viewer as he views her and she hides. There could be various interpretations and that is what I love about good art. It makes one think.

  20. Wonderful images Frances, thank you so much for showing.

  21. Hello Frances,
    I have just been catching up on your posts. You must certainly deserve to arrive home with a huge bunch of flowers , nice that your employers reward you in this way.
    I picked upon your theme of time passing. To me, you seem to have such a full and interesting life and never waste your time. You fill it with art exhibitions, creative projects, books, observations of everyday life and then share it all with us in your beautiful posts.
    I was very happy to see the drawing of the sea holly, showing all the beauty of the plant. I once bought a postcard of a very large fleshy lady with pinky tones. His exhibiition was at on at Venice, opted for the sights instead, sadly I never saw it, still have the leaflet.
    I was impressed to know the country girl could use her skills to deal with the heat. Hope you are feeling less tired, it must be hard living with such high temperatures.
    I was touched with the little gift of the pink flower,that is very country, to share a little something from the garden.
    Keep well . Millyx

  22. Hope all is well and the heat isn't getting to you? Have missed your regular posts!

    Pomona x

  23. Awesome as always my friend; you speak for all of us.

    My personal motto is "life is for living, loving and investigating!" as long as my curiosity is aroused, and I can look back in life and look forward to whatever the future holds then things are good.

    I love tradition, and when it comes to art, I hold my hand up to the Old Masters being much more my thing than some of what passes for modern art. What you have shown us though is the very spirit of what gets my "investigate!" wheel working. I know what I like, and like what I know and long may the brain cells continue to tell the difference!

    Will pm you soon hon!

  24. I enjoyed seeing these works of L.'s so much. I didn't know he did such exacting work of plants.
    Only the astounding and sometimes brutal works of people.
    Enjoy hearing about your forays to museums that seem like Ali Baba's cave to me.