Lines: Doig, Daniel Richter, Warhol


Peter Doig Figure in Mountain Landscape (1997-98) oil on canvas 289 x 199cm

Today I used my projector to experiment with a technique I’ve seen in paintings by Peter Doig and Daniel Richter, with its roots in Warhol. It involves outlining areas of contrasting value, including areas of light and shadow on a single object or figure, and filling these lines and areas with varied colours and values.


Peter Doig Imaginary Boys (2004) pigment print in colours 64.1 x 86cm


Daniel Richter Besuch der Wirklichkeit [Welcome to Reality] (2010) oil on canvas 200 x 300cm

This technique reminds me of polarised photographs and topographic maps.


Solarised photograph


I didn’t put much thought into my choice of image and colours and they haven’t worked out pretty (see below), but as a first experiment I think I understand the basics of the technique. I don’t know if it’s something I want to develop further. Doig and Richter have used it so often, they’ve kind of made it their own. It would be difficult to make a painting this way without it seeming derivative.


170114a Doig Chomsky (2017) oil on canvas 43 x 33cm

I chose a picture of Noam Chomsky, even though it felt naive and banal to create a portrait of a famous person. However, I admire Chomsky, and by painting him I’m challenging myself to find a better way of putting the things I care about into paintings. Remarkably, it didn’t occur to me that using these colours and this technique on a portrait of this type would refer back, passed Doig and Richter, directly to Warhol.


Andy Warhol Michael Jackson (Green) (1984)

The paint application can be varied (Warhol’s line had an illustrator’s flourish, Doig is more perfunctory in his tracing and allows his line to wobble, Richter scrapes his lines after painting them – like his namesake, Gerhard) but as a method of drawing, it’s very mechanical. It’s pretty much tracing the outlines projected onto the canvas with as little distortion as possible. I found it very boring completing this small exercise, I can’t imagine what it would be like to make one of Doig’s large snow scenes.

The result is effective, but I find it’s a little too much like viewing the photograph through a filter (this goes for any technique that systematically reproduces a photograph). No matter how much the painter fucks with the colour, surface, etc., the photographic form remains. Personally, at this point, I’m more interested in the quirks and inventions of manual drawing, rather than mechanically assisted drawing.


One thought on “Lines: Doig, Daniel Richter, Warhol

  1. Some of these effects are stunning. Warhol’s huge oeuvre in this stuff probably gets as much of its esteem from its size as it does from the merits of a particular piece. But the quirky effect achieved gets a notoriety and a following just because. This doesn’t negate merit, God forbid that i make such a judgment. But going by your last sentence, it would seem that your temperament and gifts are not suited to expressing yourself meaningfully in this way. So it’s daubdaubdaub for you my friend.


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