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Jack Vettriano on Forain

The future

Obviously you could probably go on to painting these pictures for the rest of your life and be adored for it. But in Forain's later life he started to paint about social injustice, especially about the life or death drama occurring in courtrooms. - charged scenes where somebody might stand to loose everything. Do you see your work changing in the future?

I don't know, but from looking through Forain’s work I really can see that change came from the heart. He was no longer in the dark world. It didn't come from his wife saying, "Don't you dare go into that brothel and do another painting!" And I think that's where change has to come from, so until that happens to me there won't be a change.

I always try and say to myself when I'm doing a painting, "What is your motivation for this? Is it money?" And no, I'm just not motivated by money, which is slightly surprising given I never had any once, but I'm just not. I think it's that I continually want to excite the public. I think that's what the drive is. I want to maintain the standard and I want people to say, "Yeah, he's still got it, hasn't he?" I still get a thrill when Tom comes here, and I'm glad I do because it shows the sort of boyishness of me - I have this need for him to come in and go "That is great, Jack!" I hope I never loose that.

I still think deeply about whether the people who follow me will like my new work, but there’s a trap here - that the prints and cards have wide acceptance precisely because they're not dealing with the same dark subject matter as my paintings. For instance the Art Group have actually said to Tom Hewlett, "Can't you get him to do more people on a beach, or near a beach, or maybe a beach in the background, or even feature a painting on a wall of a beach in one of his other paintings!" And you sort of think, the more they ask the less likely they are to get it, because I don't want people to say, "He's churning them out now." But all I'm getting these days is a sort of darkness. So that's why they're all dark.

Are they going to get darker?

I don't know. There's a great song by Dylan on Street Legal, "Is your love in vain?" In it he says "Are you so fast that you cannot see that I must have solitude? When I am in the darkness, why do you intrude?" There are some times where I can get really quite low emotionally and the last thing I want is somebody saying to me, "Come on, everything will be alright". You know, I just can't bear it. I mean I feel like saying, "Just go back to your place would you? Just go and just ...."

But recently I've met somebody who I like very, very much, so I think I might gradually drift away from the darkness, but my work will still be about relationships. Of course she's finding it very difficult with me because I've been on my own for so long - she feels I need to be looked after and I probably do - but I'll give it a go! (laughs)

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