Self-Portrait with Plant (A tribute to Lucian Freud)

Learning from the masters: Lucian Freud, Girl with Leaves, 1948

This post has been sitting there as a draft for months. I didn’t dare publish it, because I thought it would be presumptuous to compare my work to Lucian Freud’s. But sadly, he passed away last week, on Wednesday, July 20th at the age of 88, leaving behind an impressive body of work, and I thought a tribute might be timely. I was still hesitant, until my mum wrote me the following today: “Yes, by all means presume to compare your work to that of anyone you admire for whatever reason. How else can you grow in your love of what you do, if not by sticking to the company of those that are meaningful to you? Personally, I think it’s more presumptuous to deny one’s talent or belittle it, than it is to keep giving your best shots at it because you know it to be strong enough to improve and to keep on getting better.” Indeed. So here it is, my art project from Fall 2010: our teacher showed us portraits by several artists, with Lucian Freud’s Girl with Leaves (above) as the main inspiration. The idea was to work from a couple of images—a photo of ourselves, and a photo of an plant-like organic life-form—and combine them in one composition while giving attention to detail. I had my work cut out for me.

Photo #1: Smiler as a young girl

Photo #2: From my succulents garden

Step 1: Rough sketch

Step 2: More detail (other versions will follow...)



  1. marilou

    love his work! all of it, espacially his nudes, they’re so vulnarable and strong at the same time that it almost makes you cry (as a matter of fact it did, on an exhibition some years ago, but i don’t think anyone noticed ;-)
    88 is not bad, is it? especialy considdering he could spend a great part of these years painting! which must have been a wonderful experience, i mean: it shows!
    so does your work by the way ilana, totaly agree with your mother too!!!

  2. gail doughty

    Wow, excellent work, Ilana. And Mum is of course right. I’ve been looking at Freud’s work since the news of his death.
    Now I’m really eager to see what you do with this in the future; it has real promise.


    • Gail! Lovely to see you in these parts. Freud definitely had a unique vision. His nudes and portrait paintings are definitely not what you’d call ‘pretty’, but I find there is a lot to learn from his approach.

      You’ll find that almost all the projects I post here are ‘ongoing’. The creative process tends to be like that…

      Thanks for visiting and commenting! :-)

  3. rlbourges

    glad to see this; keep on keeping on.

    • Of course, as you must know, that photo is evocative of a very special trip with a very special person. It always stands out in my memory as a wonderful and magical experience. xoxo

  4. zeev shamir

    Great project you have
    waiting for more to come…

  5. zeev shamir

    I see this as a gorgeous art work …go with it

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