Local artist Jo Tinney draws inspiration from many sources for her artworks including the "beautiful island" she lives on. Here she talks to The Impartial Reporter about her artistic background, exhibiting her work and her involvement in special art project associated with Game of Thrones.

JC: What is your artistic background? Are you self-taught or did you go to art school/do courses?

JT: I studied at Belfast Art College for three years and then went to Manchester University to do a Diploma in Art Education as I wanted to teach art. I then very happily taught Art and Design firstly in Monaghan for two years and then in Mount Lourdes for ten years before eventually leaving to concentrate full time on my own painting.

JC: What inspires your art?

JT: This beautiful island we live on continually inspires me. The rugged coastline, the boglands, the lakes and waterways in all their seasonal glory. I also take inspiration from poetry, people like Frank Ormsby, Heaney, Longley and from music, people like Olafur Arnals and the singing of Iarla O’Lionáird in the Gloaming and locally Gaby McArdle.

JC: Who/what are your biggest influences?

JT: My life drawing Tutor from Art College, Neil Shawcross has been very influential not only as a teacher but also in his own painting and personally in the years since then. I also greatly admire the work of our own TP Flanagan and am drawn to the work of Matisse and the Austrian painter Gustav Klimt.

JC: Is there a specific place that you do your work? Do you have a studio?

JT: I have had a studio in the Buttermarket for over 20 years now where I work and exhibit. When working on larger pieces I work in my studio at home and outdoors sometimes when the weather permits.

JC: What has been your most ambitious piece to date?

JT: I was commissioned to design and create the artwork for two full length stained glass windows for the Church of Our Lady in Bundoran which was both exhilarating and daunting. One of the windows depicts the story of St. Ninnidh travelling down the Erne from Inishmacsaint in the 6th century towards Bundoran which required a lot of research and preparatory drawing on the landscape, people, animals and fauna that were indigenous of the period. The second window depicts Our Lady, Star of the Sea. The complete project took many months to complete but everyone concerned was delighted with the outcome.

JC: What different artistic mediums do you use and which is your favourite?

JT: I work in watercolour, pastel and acrylic and I love them all. Watercolour for its ethereal qualities, lightness and softness, pastel for the sheer joy of its depth and richness of pure pigment and acrylic for its forgiveness.

JC: What are you currently working on?

JT: We visit rural Corfu often and after a recent visit I’m currently working on vibrant colour studies of hens and roosters, which are a common sight there, roaming happily in small wildflower hillside pastures. The scene always reminds me of a bygone Fermanagh.

JC: Do you exhibit your work anywhere?

JT: I’ve been in many group exhibitions but my first solo exhibition was in The Studio at Ardhowen in 1992 and since then I’ve exhibited at various times in major galleries in Belfast, Dublin, Sligo, Galway and Letterkenny but current work is always available to view and buy in my Studio in the Buttermarket and of course on my website. My work is also currently exhibited in Café Merlot at Blakes of the Hollow in Enniskillen.

JC: Any new artistic ventures planned for 2019?

JT: I’ve been invited by people associated with Game of Thrones to do some paintings based around aspects of coastline locations in Northern Ireland where the TV series was filmed which I’m currently researching and working on prep drawings for.

JC: What has been your favourite project to date?

JT: Designing the stained glass windows for the Star of the Sea Church in Bundoran really stands out. Anther favourite project was a painting I was commissioned to do for President Clinton when he came to Enniskillen, which was of the lake at Ballycassidy, as his ancestors were Cassidy’s from Fermanagh like myself and he was very interested in his family heritage and also very interesting to meet and talk to.

JC: What are you up to when you aren’t painting?

JT: I love my family time with my husband, four children, eight grandchildren, especially when we’re all together. It’s sometimes noisy but always priceless. I also like to read, listen to music and go walking in places close to nature around the lake shores or on the beaches and hills of Donegal.

JC: How would you describe your artistic style?

JT: It’s an evocative, heartfelt response to the natural landscape around me through colour, light, line, texture. I believe that art is not to portray but to evoke and this is the quality I’m always trying to capture in my work.

JC: What does your art mean to you?

JT: After my family who always come first, my art is the other big part of my life and I’m grateful for that as it allows me to spend time doing something I love. It can constantly surprise me but always has the potential to make me very happy.