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The Racing Art of Doug Garrison

Submitted by on July 1, 2012

Mario Andretti 1978

“I think of my work as journalistic,” Doug Garrison explains. “It needs to be timely—to me—even if it’s a retro-inspired moment. I think of an idea and then I want it done so I can see it.”

The challenge in that process is that Garrison is a painter. A watercolor is not exactly a deadline assignment, but that’s how he works it to create great racing images, and not just from contemporary photos or scenes. It could be Ayrton Senna lapping in the rain at Monaco, or memories of standing at the one-and-two short chute at Indy. But it has to be fast, and now.

Here his semi-electronic style comes in. Doug paints a rough, abstract image in watercolors and uploads it to a computer. “Digital brushwork” with a stylus blurs the lines between traditional painting and modern editing, as well as yellow helmet and silver guardrail.

Completing thousands of touch-ups and single-stroke changes, his idea realised; Doug can finally see it and take it all in.

“After I finish each work, I can’t stop staring at it. My wife thinks I’m ill.”

Finally, in true artistic fashion, he prints a first canvas and destroys the layered, editable file— creating the original work.

For subjects, Doug draws on photographs and live scenes, but his favorite ideas come from years back, memories of a life of loving racing. Within that, he has a certain persisting goal: to perfect the light reflection on the curves of a beautiful car.

“Each time I try to capture it, it feels different. It keeps me going. I’m still trying to get it right.”

Maybe one day he’ll come up with the perfect lighting, a vision of a shadowy-bright Lotus in the short chute, and have it on canvas within hours. But until then, Garrison will keep on producing great works of retro art. Head to his website for more info, to buy prints and to peruse his wonderful gallery.

Images by Doug Garrison

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