Multi-disciplinary self-taught artist Kevin McHugh is continually pushing boundaries with his art. From his digital illustrations to large-scale site-specific murals, intricately created using a powerhose, Kevin is always up for a new challenge which he executes with skill and passion. Forever learning new techniques along the way, his determination allows him to consistently produce something special, whatever his chosen tool or unique canvas may be.

Here he tells Jessica Campbell about the inspiration behind his work, his involvement in projects with Sliabh Beagh Arts and why art is so important to him.

J: What inspires your art?

K: Anything can inspire a piece of art but I’m at the point now where I can’t deny there are definitely a few recurring themes in mine! When left to my own devices there’s a fair chance I’ll paint a crow. It’s my failsafe. When I have no particular direction, a good old scrawny crow is usually a good starting point. I love them! I love their intelligence and ingenuity and their sleek, black, ninjas-of-the-bird-world look.

Another theme I’m never too far away from is Hallowe’en. I mean that in its broadest sense, it’s not all pumpkins and devils but just a general dark side with a humorous twist. I grew up loving Hallowe’en and watching Scooby Doo, how else was I going to turn out?

Also the classic Universal Pictures monsters have walked with me my whole life so I end up painting a lot of graveyards!

Then, on the flipside of that I love painting portraits, they add variety and force me to do something different which is always a good thing.

J: What is your favourite artistic medium to use?

K: Painting in acrylics on canvas is my favourite and well within my comfort zone (although David Bowie said you should never work in your comfort zone) and I’m always happy when I’ve got a paintbrush in my hand.

I used to paint in oils years ago but had to quit because the fumes gave me headaches so I started using acrylics and I love them to this day.

J: You have worked on a Men’s Shed project with Sliabh Beagh Arts, what did that involve?

K: The Men’s Shed project is one I didn’t see coming at all but Sliabh Beagh Arts has a habit of peaking my curiosity and asking me to try some weird and wonderful things. Now this is definitely outside of my comfort zone, Bowie should be happy with that.

I had never used a plasma cutter before so it was a learning curve I was on at the same time as the men involved were.

It was a huge time commitment but I decided to go for it because I liked the sound of it and I always like learning a new skill. We’ve completed one leg of the project with three Men’s Sheds and we’ll continue it next year to finish it.

Story Saws is the name of the project and we’re cutting into old rusty handsaws and circular blades with themes decided by each Shed.

Some are doing local scenes and some are cutting images of traditional crafts into the blades but all are relevant to the men who are working on them and that’s what makes it personal.

J: What has been your favourite project to date?

K: As far as projects go my favourite to do are the powerhose murals but I’d say the one I get the most satisfaction and sense of achievement from is the shadow puppet play we did on Corra