Freud's early paintings are often associated with surrealism and depict people and plants in unusual juxtapositions. These works are usually painted with relatively thin paint, but from the 1950s he began to paint portraits, often nudes, to the almost complete exclusion of everything else, employing a thicker impasto. With this technique he would often clean his brush after each stroke. The colours in these paintings are typically muted. Often Freud's portraits depict only the sitter, sometimes sprawled naked on the floor or on a bed or alternatively juxtaposed with something else, as in Girl With a White Dog and Naked Man With Rat. Freud's subjects are often the people in his life; friends, family, fellow painters, lovers, children. To quote the artist: "The subject matter is autobiographical, it's all to do with hope and memory and sensuality and involvement, really."
"I paint people," Freud has said, "not because of what they are like, not exactly in spite of what they are like, but how they happen to be." Freud has painted fellow artists, including Frank Auerbach and Francis Bacon. He produced a series of portraits of the performance artist Leigh Bowery, and also painted Henrietta Moraes, a muse to many Soho artists. Freud is one of the best known British artists working in a traditional representational style, and was shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 1989.