Artist Barry Slevin's work ranges from meticulously detailed pen and ink illustrations to gestural acrylic paintings.

Here he tells The Impartial Reporter about his artistic background, his most ambitious piece to date and what art means to him.

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

BS: I studied A-level art back in the day when the South West College was just called the Tech. I then went to the University of Ulster at York Street and completed the foundation year in Art and Design.

JC: What inspires your art?

BS: Patterns inspire me. Over the years I realised that my eye was drawn naturally to repeating patterns I’d see every day, be those natural or artificial. I love Celtic design and Islamic design. The latter especially, as those artists have such an understanding of geometric patterns and construct the most complex images with only a compass and straight edge.

JC: Who/what are your biggest influences?

BS: Apart from the patterns I have already mentioned, from the first time I saw the work of an artist called Paul Sample I fell in love with pen and ink. Ralph Steadman is another great influence as is Gerald Scarfe. They all use pen and ink to great effect.

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

BS: I work from home. It’s where I’m happiest.

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

BS: I’ve completed quite a few interesting commissions over the last couple of years. One stands out for me. A customer wanted a piece based around the Hindu Goddess of Art, knowledge and wisdom, Saraswati. It was the first full colour pointillism piece that I had attempted. It took eight months and culminated in me using Gold leaf for the first time. I still think of it as some the best work I have done. Everything turned out exactly as I had wanted.

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

BS: I use two basic mediums. Ink and acrylic paint. The first, Pen and Ink. I use Rotring technical pens, because of their precise nib sizes. Indian ink for the black and then a limited pallet of Red, Blue and Green inks to add the colours. I’ll sometimes use an old-fashioned Dip Pen for guest appearances of other colours from time to time also. Then with the paintings, I use Acrylic paint on canvas. I paint wet onto dry and Acrylics are great as they dry in a matter of minutes, compared to Oils that can still be wet weeks after the event.

JC: What are you currently working on?

BS: I’m currently working on a pair of large drawings. They’re based on Joker playing cards and I plan for a limited run of prints. I’m still working out the details of the print run but would like to offer a certain amount of them hand finished with Gold Leaf. I’ve been working on them since early last year. It’s a slow process!

JC: Do you exhibit your work anywhere?

BS: I have exhibited in Enniskillen when the Clinton Centre was open. A few of the Christmas shows and 1ft Square open exhibitions. I have also had a show in Bundoran in Buoys and Gulls, a surf café. Some Drawings and prints. It’s always nice to get work up on a wall!

JC: Any new artistic ventures planned for 2020?

BS: For 2020 and beyond, I plan to concentrate a lot more on the painting side of things. I have really enjoyed painting again, and I have been delighted at the feedback I’ve been getting. I would like to explore exhibiting and selling my paintings and will look towards finding the best way of going about this. Gallery owners, you have been warned...

JC: What has been your favourite project to date?

BS: I’m really enjoying the project now with the two drawings. Normally I’d complete one image at a time, but the double effort involved, especially when they are based on but not identical to each other has given me a whole new meaning of the word ‘work’.

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

BS: To be honest, apart from the occasional spin on my bike, I’m drawing or painting. It’s all I want to do.

JC: How would you describe your artistic style?

BS: To describe the drawing, I’d have to go with meticulous and detailed. The largest pen size I use is 1mm. The smallest is 0.1mm. And there are several in between sizes. I can spend an hour or two on a few square inches of paper. I’m developing a stoop and a squint from being hunched over the page and staring through a watchmaker’s loupe all day. The painting side of things is more gestural and freer in nature. It’s a great antidote for the constraints I put upon myself with the drawings.

JC: What does your art mean to you?

BS: Art is basically everything to me. There were a few years after Art College when I didn’t pick up a pencil or brush and looking back, they were empty years. Art is a great reason for getting out and staring up at clouds. Without it, I’d just be walking around the house, looking in cupboards for snacks….