Wednesday 21 August 2019

Painting a picture of love

Artist Vincent Devine and his partner Lynn Leavy share a love of art, and had a surprise baby four years ago

Creative clan: Artists Vincent Devine and Lynn Leavy with their children, Annalie, 4, and baby Rowan, who is 11 days old today. Photo: Tony Gavin
Creative clan: Artists Vincent Devine and Lynn Leavy with their children, Annalie, 4, and baby Rowan, who is 11 days old today. Photo: Tony Gavin

When Christopher Devine discovered that best pal Lynn Leavy fancied his elder brother Vincent, he warned her not to get involved with him. Not because there was anything wrong with Vincent, but he feared it might get awkward if it all went pear-shaped. Luckily, Lynn, then 19, ignored his misgivings, and she got together with Vincent, then 22, at a house party.

Seven years and two babies later, Chris- topher can rest easy as the relationship shows no sign of going down the tubes. But tubes of paint, now that's a different matter, as art is a common bond for Vincent, Lynn and their four-year-old daughter Annalie. Baby Rowan is only 11 days old today, so we'll leave him out of the creative equation for now.

"I fell for Lynn because she's beautiful, but then I got to know her and realised she was a very soft, giving and caring person," says Vincent, now 29. "I've always been very driven, and she always encourages and guides me. When I'm faced with challenges, she thinks of ways to overcome the obstacles."

Vincent and Lynn are both from Clara, Co Offaly, and they now live in Tullamore. Vincent is the eldest of Hazel and Livinus Devine's three sons, and his parents are now separated. He got his artistic talent from his mother.

"Mum used to draw mermaids and princesses, so I copied her and ended up drawing a lot of female figures and became very interested in the female form," he says. "They didn't have art as a subject at my school, so I had to get outside grinds and did all the theory on my own. I ended up being the only person in the gymnasium sitting the Leaving Cert art exam."

Vincent went on after school to do a prep course at Moate Business College, where his teacher, Breda Donoghue, taught him technical skills. He did an honours degree in visual communications at Athlone Institute of Technology, and people started becoming interested in his gorgeous paintings, including his Children of Lir and Tree series. This was boosted by the fact that several cel- ebrities endorsed and shared his work on their websites or social media, including Alanis Morissette, Lady Gaga, Shakira, and Cara Delevingne. Supermodel Tyra Banks was so impressed, she commissioned him to paint the finalists in the latest series of America's Next Top Model.

"I think Vincent's paintings are amazing," says Lynn, 26. "I love having them around the house and am always a bit sad when one sells. I fell for Vincent because he was tall, dark and has a lovely build, and he was very different. He's very straight up, honest and emotionally stable. I'm the calm one, so if he's getting worked up we chat about it, and he's more logical than I am even though he's very passionate. We're so close, we spend all of our time together and wouldn't go a few hours without seeing each other."

Aside from selling his paintings, Vincent also does workshops with younger people and children, and is currently working on a programme to help primary teachers with teaching art.

He will be part of Ireland's biggest contem- porary art fair, Art Source 2015, at the RDS next weekend. Contemporary paintings, photography, sculpture and ceramics will be on show, with new artists and techniques to admire, from artisan silversmiths to bronze workers, specialist printers and moving figurative artworks. Each exhibitor is tasked with having at least one piece of accessible art available, priced at €100. Vincent's own works range from €100 to €3,000.

The acclaimed Artzheimer's Exhibition will also be featured. It's an art collection by a variety of contributors, representing what it is to live with Alzheimer's disease. The Jack and Jill Children's Foundation is using Art Source as the launchpad for its next big art-themed fundraiser, Hares on the March, in which Vincent is involved.

There will also be children's workshops, which will be of interest to Annalie. She loves to do her own little paintings, and Vincent also interprets her ideas and paints them. Lynn is also arty, and while she has had to defer for a while, having had baby Rowan, she's in the middle of a two-year PLC in art and crafts, where she does painting, drawing and sculpture.

Vincent and Lynn knew they were expecting Rowan when Lynn was four weeks pregnant, but Annalie came as a big surprise as they didn't realise until a whole lot later. Lynn is 5ft-10ins and was working in security at the Palace nightclub at the Bridge House hotel in Tullamore, and while she had put on two stone she wasn't sick and had normal periods so had no idea she was pregnant.

At that time, Lynn was still living at home in Clara, where she is the eldest of Martina and Adrian's four children. Her parents are also separated. She studied hospitality and business management in Athlone for a year-and-a-half, worked at Loughrey's bar for a few years and then went into security. One night she came home from work, took off her coat and her mother said: "Lynn, that weight gain isn't the result of Mars bars, there's a baby in there." Lynn went to her bedroom, crying, and phoned Vincent, who thought it was "hilarious", but even he got a huge fright when the scan revealed that she was 34 weeks gone.

They didn't have a long time to adjust, so Vincent spent the money he was saving for a car on a pram and everything else needed for the new arrival.

"Annalie came and she was absolutely perfect," says Vincent. "When you have a child, you're not number one any more, and all your focus revolves around this little life. And now with our new baby boy, life is great, and we feel fortunate with our children. Lynn and I are not married yet, but when I'm in, I'm committed for life, and I won't be going anywhere."

Art Source 2015 takes place at the RDS, Dublin, next Friday to Sunday. Tickets €10/€8 OAPs.

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