Long-established artist Edward McNulty is renowned for his portraiture and wildlife paintings, impressing art experts across the UK with his attention to detail. Once based in London, Edward now resides back in his homeland of Fermanagh, where he takes great inspiration from the wildlife of his rural surroundings.

Here he talks to The Impartial Reporter about his artistic background, what inspires his art and what art means to him.

JC: What is your artistic background?

EMcN: Basically I am self-taught, although when I went to England I enrolled on a course at London University School of Art to study figurative art because you wouldn’t have got that here. I was more settled when I went there because when you are in your early teenage years you are not thinking about art or paintings, you’re always thinking about, 'when am I going to learn to drive' and things like that. I thought then I’d settle myself down when I got there and the only reason I went there to do that was because I wanted to do drawings. When I went there and enrolled on the course, it was just life drawing, but you couldn’t have done that here in Fermanagh at the time but now you can. The course was good, I had a bit of experience, I was probably the most experienced one there.

JC: What inspires your art?

EMcN: Wildlife, the countryside. That’s why I like living out here because you have all the wildlife. You have wildlife here that you mightn’t have anywhere else, like pine martens, mink, stoats and badgers.

JC: Who/what influences your work?

EMcN: My favourite artist is Constable, I prefer him to Turner, even though they were rivals. But Turner was a different type of artist.

Turner did a lot of watercolours and they were sort of hazy, that was his type of painting but I don’t particularly like that, I like to see the real thing and the depth.

JC: What artistic mediums do you use?

EMcN: Everything across the board. Sometimes I would do a sketch before I would do an oil painting. I just do it because if you are away from the person you have the outline. I’m very good at remembering features and skin tones and experts have thought my skin tones are second to none but I think they could still be better. One person told me that I want the impossible and I said, ‘maybe next to that yeah’. You have to look it at it that way because you’re only as good as your last work.

I also use mixed media; pencil, watercolours and gouache.

JC: How would you describe your artistic style?

EMcN: I think I’ve developed my own style. I’m influenced by other artists and one of my favourite portrait painters is Frank McKelvey. If you go to the City Hall in Belfast you’ll see his work, I was very influenced by him. I don’t think he ever got the credit that he deserved but he was a big influence on me and also the fact that he was a fellow Irishman.

JC: What is your favourite painting to date?

EMcN: According to some experts, my painting of Maureen O’Hara is my best but others think my painting of the Queen is.

JC: You also have a background in physical education, how has that benefited you as an artist?

EMcN: I was teaching PE so that was sort of a backbone to what I was going to do because you get to know the human body, structure and everything. Some of the experts said to me, 'you seem to know the structure of the human body, the bone structure and everything' and I said, 'I studied that alright'.

I knew that was a big help to me so I went and I taught PE in a Polytechnic in Kilburn for a while and then I became a personal trainer, because I was studying and I had to get money from somewhere.

One of my clients was none other than Roger Moore and another man I trained with, believe it or not, was Sean Connery. In 1952 he was runner up in Mr. Universe.

JC: What does your art mean to you?

EMcN: I suppose it’s my life. My daughter Paula says I live and die for it, well I suppose I do. You have to work hard at art and experiment. I am not a defeatist, definitely not. If I don’t get it right today, maybe tomorrow.