Laurence O'Toole

Objects & Paintings

Symmetrical and Conceptual  —  1976-83


An Artist?

From an early age I had the urge to be creative. This found an outlet in my teens through the mediums of music and writing. My guitar playing and composition left a lot to be desired but the composition of poetry flourished. By 1976 the poetry had developed along metaphysical lines and I had begun to envisage the ideas and concepts in a visual form. I was at the time living on a Kibbutz as a long term volunteer. As these ideas took form it so happened that I met a young artist and when we discussed my ideas he promptly offered me some primed canvases, brushes and paint. It was a sweet gesture.

Up until this point my sole artistic achievement had been at the age of eleven, when at Junior School I had painted a fantasied scene from the Battle of Balaclava. My teacher at the time seemed to have appreciated my artistic endeavours and hung it on the wall. This was a first for me. Unfortunately after that the teacher kept encouraging me to undertake something called a collage which at the time just didn’t excite me; so that was that.

In Secondary School after returning from Australia my one recurring memory of art classes were the clay fights. These transpired when we had when working with clay and the teacher not present. Lumps of wet clay of all shapes and sizes were sent flying in all directions. I also remember the teacher’s ire when returning to the created carnage. As I have observed in later years, youth is so often wasted on the youth.
Creating carnage gave me little experience in how to paint an oil painting, for these were the paints that I had been given.

Learning the Hard Way.

I knew nothing of grounds, under painting, binders and mixing agents. The paints I was given were rather stiff. I went to the local town and found an art supplies shop, but what to buy. There were a selection of different coloured liquids and of course my Hebrew wasn’t up to the task. I ended up buying something called a siccative, probably because I liked the sound of the word in my dyslectic way. After painting the first painting, The Journey (1976) in a textured way I did wonder why it took so long to dry in the heat of the summer. It was a long journey of trial and error, of learning by a process of mistakes.

Symmetry and Symbolism.

It was through the use of symmetry and symbolism that I sought to express the metaphysical ideas and themes that I was exploring in the poetry. I had always excelled in technical drawing and here it found its outlet. Mathematics was also was an important component in these early works. The relationship between the written word and the visual arts was the foundation of the early works between 1976-84. What had germinated while living in Israel developed slowly after returning to England.


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