At various stages in his career, Doig has consciously sought to free up his approach to making paintings, often by tackling new subjects. The winter sports and frozen ponds featured in these works, though painted from the artist’s London studio, are everyday Canadian scenes. Doig leaves behind any documentary value in the photographic sources he employs; instead, his pictures invoke a dream-like state. The artist had been working on Pond Life 1993 for three months before he added the reflection of the three figures, opening up the painting from a recognisable reality to something more magical.
In Ski Jacket 1994, a newspaper image of a Japanese ski resort combined in his mind with ideas of Japanese scroll painting; he doubled its size by adding a second panel. The very choice of snow subjects, and the saccharine colour palette, disconcerted many observers in the London art world at the time. However, his boldness was recognised when he was awarded the John Moores Prize in 1993 for Blotter and nominated for the Turner Prize the following year.