Laurence O'Toole

Objects & Paintings

Germany and a New Beginning  —  2002-2013

 

A New Perspective.

After taking up residence in Germany it was not long before the new environment into which I now found myself began to act as a creative catalyst. It had been about twelve years since I had painted The Beggar’s Banquet (1991) and the small eclectic range of work I did in the interval in Ireland lacked any direction.

Moving to the centre of the medieval town of Ahrweiler in the Spring 2003 provided the opportunity to create a studio. In the landscape surrounding the old town I found new inspiration. In the latticework of vineyards spread out on the sides of the valley, the abundant woodlands with so many tree friends, the ever changing faces of the Ahr River and its watery music. These were to provide the initial impetus for the creative adventure, a new perspective: a different life and an artist who had matured.

Style and a Love of Colour.

Throughout what I consider to be my art apprenticeship from 1976-1988 I had approached the visual arts in a variety of ways and styles. Each work was an experiment, a learning process. In the early work I drew more with paint but by the time of the large social/ethic paintings, I had adopted a more sculptural approach to painting. This enabled me to express myself in a fusion of impressionistic expressionism. It was this that I sought to refine. To this end since resuming painting in Germany I chose the encaustic medium of turpentine and beeswax, applying the paint with palette knives and occasionally using small brushes for fine work.

Finally I had settled on a technique. In the early years I would have used a white canvas and applied the paint in one go, alla prima, normally beginning at the top working downwards, finishing each area before proceeding to the next. These days it was a far more fluid affair, using coloured backgrounds and leaving small points of the original colour to show through. Then using dark under colours and bring the picture out of the shadows. This could be sculptured in one go but more often than not was built up in coloured and lighter layers to reveal the painting. Each work an adventure. Sometimes it was as if the painting painted itself. Other times there were the battles as I missed the mark or felt it was not working in some aspect. Tenacity and patience are wonderful attributes. Patience to wait until there is clarity. Tenacity, to persevere and repaint whole sections of a painting if necessary.

With regards to colour I am aware that many people who have seen the paintings have remarked on the colourful nature of the work. I love colour, it’s been a long term enduring relationship. That the Divine has blessed this world with such a rich variety of colours is a living wonder.

The Theme of Life.

When looking back over the work of this period there is one theme that runs through the work, it is the celebration of life and the experiences presented by this life.

After finishing The Beggars Banquet (1991) I made a conscious decision. I did not want to keep looking at this man created world and seeing all that was wrong with it; dissecting the societies driven by relentless egos, bearing witness to psychotic patterns of behavior of so called intelligent men. I wished to express the beauty of this creation. As my yoga practices matured the theme has became more and more important to me.

Many years ago a fellow artist who painted contemporary abstract paintings remarked in a somewhat disparaging manner, “Yes, you’re a landscape painter”. Labels are so free and easy to give to things that often we do not understand. I have never really seen myself solely as a landscape painter, I have simply expressed themes that have inspired me, or touched my life in some way. That I have painted many landscapes and trees is more to do with the inspiration I find in the incredible ever changing beauty of this Natural world.

When I go for a walk in the woods or through the vineyards, or by the river I see the changing tapestry of nature and its energetic forms of vibrant colour. The leaves, branches and trunks of trees, the flow of water, rocks and stones, a miniature universe of flowers, grasses and plants; insects, birds and animals. What wonder! Then on top of all this there are the sounds, the smells, every aspect of creation is vibrant with the energy of the Divine Artist. Even on the greyest day there are a thousand subtle hues and textures.. I simply choose to paint that in which I find joy, magic and mystery

Up until several years ago there had always been an inner conflict between the time I spent in creative activities and the time spent practicing and teaching yoga. Up until 1991 it had been a one sided affair with creativity coming out on top. The reason for this was simply that the yoga practices were achieved by self-discipline while painting was something I was simply driven to do. By the late 1990’s through self-discipline my yoga practices predominated over my creative endeavours and I concentrated more on yoga teaching. This has subsequently evolved over time into a fusion. Now yoga and creativity are synonymous. There is no dichotomy when I am mindful of the Divine Artist. To be forgetful of the Giver of all, as my Master said, is ignorance. In my heart there is gratitude to the Creator for this creatively inspired evolving world.

And Themes.

Landscapes, nature forms, frozen moments of time, experiences, memories, familiar faces, dear ones, stories of lives interwoven, dramas and quietude, ideas and concepts. Every picture tells a story.

 

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