Born: Methil, United Kingdom
“My first solo exhibition was described as pornographic.”
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Jack Vettriano, born and raised in Fife, Scotland became an apprentice of a mining engineer after leaving school when he was only sixteen. He taught himself to paint in the 1970’s when his girlfriend bought him a set of watercolour paints as a present on his twenty-first birthday. His earliest works were reproductions of several impressionist paintings, his first being Monet’s Poppy Fields. He was self taught and strongly influenced by observing painting in the Kirkcaldy Museum and Art Gallery located in an adjacent town.
When the Royal Scottish Academy’s held its annual exhibition he submitted two of his works which immediately sold on the first day of the show. In the succeeding year, three of his paintings received the same enthusiasm in the Summer Exhibition of the Royal Academy of London. This marked a detrimental point in his life, as being an artist.
He became more successful as he had more exhibitions in the numerous places all over the world such as Edinburgh, London, Hong Kong, Johannesburg and New York. His work showcased the genre of film noir that frequently themed romance and nudity. His most famous painting, The Singing Butler, sold for £744, 500 at an auction. Ironically, the same painting was rejected by the Royal Academy during on of its annual Summer Shows when Vettriano tried to submit it. The same painting sold the most copies of posters and postcards than any other artist in the United Kingdom.
In his earlier years as an artist, he did not have much hence the need to be resourceful. He revealed that he used an artists’ reference manual entitled, The Illustrator’s Figure Reference Manual to form his figures. He was inspired by a pose of an Irish actress based in London, Orla Brady for the woman dressed in red in his painting, The Singing Butler.
In 1999, his paintings were first revealed in New York when he presented twenty-one of them at the International 20th Century Arts Fair located at The Armory. It was a successful event since all paintings sold to British collectors on the same night. The owner of Bluebird Club in London, Sir Terence Conran, signed up Vettriano in 1996 to create several paintings that featured the life of Sir Malcolm Campbell. Recently,Vettriano’s publishing company, Heartbreak Company is planning to produce a Boxed Set containing limited edition autographed replica’s of the seven paintings to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Campbell’s final World Land Record on Speed.
The original paintings hung in Conran’s club for ten years and were auctioned in 2007 at Sotheby’s and sold for approximately one million pounds. The most expensive was the Bluebird at Bonneville that cost £468,000 since it is considered as the representation of the entire series.
Some of the famous collectors that are fans of his work are Counts Jack Nicholson, Sir Alex Fergusoon and Robbie Coltrane. He has also been able to publish several books; his most recent one was released in March 2008 with the title, Studio Life. In that same year he was commissioned to create a portrait of a horse rider and granddaughter of Queen Elizabeth II, Zara Philips MBE as a fund-raising mission in a charity event, Sport Relief. The portrait was called Olympia and was auctioned together with works by Sir Peter Blake, Stella Vine and Gerald Scarfe.
His publishing company, Heartbreak Publishing, was founded in 2009 in hopes of endorsing his works as well as other artists while enabling his supporters to have direct access. In 2010 of March he decided to come back to his roots in Fife and have an exhibition in Kirkcaldy Museum entitled Days Of Wine and Roses, which had been visited by almost 48,000 people. Vettriano’s works are truly iconic. He has received several awards such as the Great Scot of the Year given to him in an awards ceremony at
Boisedale Club, London. The award was presented by Sir Jackie Stewart himself. He was up against several talented artists namely, Kristy Young, Sharleen Spiteri, Ian Rankin and Kenny Logan. This award paved the way for his paintings to be featured in National Galleries all over Scotland in order that the Scottish culture would be able to acquaint itself with it.
Vettriano’s success in the art world has proved that anyone is capable of making his or her dreams come true if he or she is determined enough. He started out with only water color paintings and a hobby that blossomed into a national sensation; even crossing borders. He was able to make a name for himself with the use of his paintbrush. He hasn’t failed to contribute and give back to society a piece of the wealth that he acquired, making financial contributions to charities and foundations. Not only is he successful in painting but also been able to publish books and up until now he continues to surpass what he has already achieved. If there is one message his life conveys, it would be that when one dreams, one should dream big.