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Jack Vettriano grew up in the industrial seaside town of Methil, Fife. He grew up in poverty with his mother and father and older brother, in a spartan miner’s cottage, sharing a bed with his brother and wearing handed down clothes. From the age of 10, his father sent him out delivering papers and milk, cleaning windows, picking potatoes and any job that would earn money. His father took half his earnings.
Vettriano left school at 16 and later became an apprentice mining engineer. For a short time in the late 1960s he had a summer job as a bingo caller at the Beachcomber Amusements on Leven Promenade. Vettriano took up painting as a hobby in the 1970s, when a girlfriend bought him a set of watercolours for his 21st birthday. His earliest paintings, under his birth name "Jack Hoggan", were copies or pastiches of impressionist paintings; his first painting was a copy of Monet's Poppy Fields. Much of his influence came from studying paintings at the Kirkcaldy Museum and Art Gallery. In 1984, Vettriano first submitted his work to the Shell-sponsored art exhibition in the museum.
In 1987, at 36, Vettriano's wife Gail left him. He left his job in educational research, and moved to Edinburgh. There he adopted his mother's maiden name, gave away his suits to a neighbour and started dressing as an Edwardian dandy. He applied to study Fine Art at the University of Edinburgh, but his portfolio was rejected.
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