A New Year A New Calendar

And a Reminder of How What You’ve Accomplished in the Past Can Help You in the Present to Create the Future You Aspire To

Learn Through Stories
Learn Through Stories

Every year since 2011, I’ve had a Jack Vettriano calendar hanging on my wall.

The reason for this is two-fold:

  1. I like his work.
  2. I like the story behind how he became an artist.

The Story of the Artist Behind The Calendar – Jack Vettriano 

Born in 1951, Jack Vettriano is an entirely self-taught artist. A Scotsman of Italian descent, he left school at sixteen to become a mining engineer. Working in the Fife coalfields.

For his twenty-first birthday, a girlfriend gave him a set of watercolour paints, and from then on, he spent much of his spare time teaching himself to paint. He spent hours looking at the works of the Glasgow Boys and the Scottish Colourists, among others, which were held in the collection of the Kirkcaldy Museum, a public gallery in his hometown. 

In 1989, Vettriano submitted two paintings to the Royal Scottish Academy’s annual exhibition; both were accepted and sold on the first day. The following year, Vettriano repeated this success by successfully submitting works to the prestigious Summer Exhibition at London’s Royal Academy and his new life as an artist began from that point on.

His first solo exhibition in Edinburgh was a sell-out, and since then, he has had solo exhibitions in London, Hong Kong and New York. Over the last twenty-five years, Vettriano has acquired a global audience for his work, which has become familiar to millions of people through reproduction.

In 2003, Vettriano was awarded an OBE for services to the Visual Arts. In 2004, his best-known painting, The Singing Butler, was sold at Sotheby’s for close to £750,000. In 2013 a major Retrospective exhibition of Vettriano’s work was held at Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum in Glasgow. The exhibition, which featured over 100 paintings ranging in date from 1992 to 2012, received over 130,000 visitors during its five-month run.

So, 1. The calendar allows me to have art I like hanging on my wall.

But moreover 2. It serves to remind me of 3 things:

  1. Chance happenings can lead you to discover your passion which in turn can lead you to realise your WorkLife purpose.
    Vettriano’s chance happening was a girlfriend giving him a set of watercolour paints, which led him to discover his passion and purpose as an artist.

I also had a chance happening in my WorkLife: A friend asking me to help out to deliver work I had no experience in doing (A workshop to help people prepare to transition into a new WorkLife) by persuading me all I needed to do was to take a common-sense approach, led me to discover my passion and purpose: To help people manage, develop and transition their WorkLife in line with what is important to them. 

2. Finding your passion and purpose gives you a determined motivation to persist.

Vettriano put in the time needed first to learn and then perfect his craft and then put his work out into the world.

I did the same, first undertaking a degree in Career Coaching and Management to learn the skills I needed and then approaching every Career Consultancy agency I knew of to gain practical experience in applying those skills.

3. Achieving success in pursuit of your passion and purpose can take time.

For Vettriano, the overnight success he achieved following on from submitting his work to the prestigious exhibitions was seventeen years in the making.

While I’ve achieved successes along my new WorkLife path – first getting the job with the agency, then establishing myself as a freelance Career Coach. It was publishing my first book – Your WorkLife Your Way (which by coincidence also took me seventeen years), that was the point that brought everything together for me – a way to help people take control of managing their own WorkLife development and growth by creating learning resources that are accessible to everyone.

As a literary artist, I certainly haven’t achieved Vettriano’s success as a visual artist.

At times this can cause me to doubt myself.

And when it does, I sit and look at the calendar hanging on my wall, which reminds me of:

  • The Chance Happening that led me to discover my passion and purpose.
  • The determined motivation this gave me to persist in my pursuit of creating a meaningful WorkLife from this.
  • How each success I’ve achieved along the way took time – which in turn serves to remind me that I’ve done it before and I can do it again. 

The calendar represents the next twelve months – the present and the future, and it also represents the past that got me to where I am today.

And of course, it also represents the work and the story of an artist I admire. 

Perhaps you, too, have something in your home – hanging on your wall or elsewhere, that serves to remind you of what you’ve accomplished in the past, that can help you in the present to create the future that you aspire to.

I hope this story helps to reinforce that reminder, and I wish you every success in the continuing chapters of your story in living a WorkLife true to your passion and purpose.

For more information about Jack Vettriano, visit www.jackvettriano.com


If you found this post helpful, you may also like to take a look at The School Of WorkLife books, which are designed to help you fine-tune your learning, development and growth in the areas that are most important to you.


Published by Carmel O' Reilly

I'm Carmel O’ Reilly. I'm a writer and learning practitioner. My books and learning resources are designed to help you self-direct your WorkLife learning. As founder of School of WorkLife, my guiding principle is to help people pursue their WorkLives with greater clarity, passion, purpose and pride by creating continuous WorkLife learning programmes that are accessible to everyone.