It was on the day of a General Election I found myself sitting amidst Alasdair Gray's private art collection, which takes up every inch of space in his living room in the west end of Glasgow.

"I was taken out to vote by a friend" Alasdair tells me. "I don't stay politically active," he said. "All I do is vote.

"In the past I wrote a number of pamphlets supporting the Scottish National Party, and if I were to write a pamphlet now, which I thought of doing, it would be highly critical of the Scottish National Party.

"I am a big supporter of Independence but I rather regret the fact that the party in Holyrood is not taking what strikes me as a properly independent line."

Later that day, Alasdair's predictions of a "continuation of a Tory prime minister in Westminster", which he described as a "depressing thought", turned out to be very much true.

We shouldn't be surprised, as Alasdair has been through quite a few general elections in his lifetime.

At 84 (he is 85 next week) Alasdair has been awarded a lifetime achievement award for his contribution to Scottish literature this week by the Saltire Society.

Born in Riddrie, east Glasgow, he studied at the Glasgow School of Art and then worked as a painter and writer of fiction and non-fiction. His first plays were broadcast on radio and television in 1968.

Between 1972 and 1974, Alasdair participated in a writing group organised by Philip Hobsbaum, which also included Scottish literary giants James Kelman, Liz Lochhead, Tom Leonard, Aonghas MacNeacail and Jeff Torrington. During this time he was employed by the People's Palace as a painter through a scheme with the Labour Government, and he was Writer-in-Residence at the University of Glasgow from 1977 to 1979.

READ MORE: Pro-independence Alasdair Gray reveals he voted Labour

Alasdair's murals can be found dotted around the city, from galleries to the Hillhead subway station, and his work in the Oran Mor on Byres Road is one of the largest works of art in Scotland. He has over 40 publications across different genres and over one thousand paintings.

"I feel very pleased about the award" Alasdair tells me, "because I am not likely to be writing another novel, or work of fiction, or even play. My next book will be a translation of Dante's Paradise, out next year. When that is being completed, all I've to do is to design the cover of it."

Rather than winding down from what has been a lifetime of creating for a retirement full of leisure, Alasdair would appear to be doing the complete opposite. He has solo exhibitions with the Glasgow Print Works, and a collection of his poems and translations planned for future years. As we speak, a pile of hand designed Christmas cards are waiting to be signed on his table, and multiple canvases are waiting to have a tweak here and there.

"If I were working more, I'd be painting more. I have such a lot of works to finish" says Alasdair, pointing to a large landscape 'Birth of Venus' which, although framed, Alasdair tells me is still incomplete.

"I'm afraid I spend such a long time over things."

That must be the key to his success. Alasdair's most famous and successful book, Lanark, was an epic which years in the making. Eventually published in 1981 by Canongate Press, Alasdair started writing Lanark in 1954 whilst studying at the Glasgow School of Art.

It was immediately a literary hit, skyrocketing him to a Scottish literary stratosphere, and is now regarded as both Glasgow's epic, and a classic in its own right.

"I started writing out the Thaw section of Lanark very much intending it to be a 'Portrait of the Artist as a Young Glaswegian', based on me" says Alasdair. "The fantasy section was based on Kafka's 'Metamorphoses'.

"I was writing them simultaneously because I intended them to be different or separate books. But then I came to the conclusion that they are in very different ways inclined to be part of the same book and then I joined them together."

His early intentions for Lanark, as well as the novel's complexity, size and location - Glasgow - has earned him regular comparisons to James Joyce, the Irish giant of literary modernism who, to many, is responsible for rendering the city of Dublin in art, just as Alasdair has done for Glasgow.

READ MORE: Alasdair Gray’s lifetime of work recognised by Saltire Society award

What does Alasdair think of such a comparison himself?

"I'm interested in stories and legends, and I've always been interested in making epics, because in a sense I intended Lanark to be a Scottish epic" replies Alasdair.

"I like Joyce very much. I can't say that I've read Finnegan's Wake steadily through, though I dip into it from time to time and in short doses it amuses me greatly.

"I think the comparison is flattering, but I don't see it."

Although there are many possible comparisons between the two writers, Alasdair should be regarded as an artistic giant of Glasgow in his own right.

I tell him I believe him to be one of the first people to render Glasgow and its inhabitants in romantic art, and he tells me that he has "certainly wanted to".

We both agree that it is a working city, but a beautiful place. If he lived in somewhere like Manchester, would that artistic relationship stay the same?

"I'm sure it would, yes" he says. "The fact I've lived here most of my life has made it special, like London was for Dickens."

Perhaps that is the case, but I am yet to find an artist that captures Glasgow's many faces all at once. Alasdair's first answer to my question about what he has learned after all these years creating is a glimmer of his famous wit and humour, as in an American drawl he replies "to thine own self be true - and never wrestle with heavy machinery".

"I've learned how to be an artist. Honestly, that's all."