Inspiration Sundays - Jack Vettriano

I'm moving Inspiration Fridays to Inspiration Sundays, simply because it works better for me to have a think on the weekends when things are a bit more relaxed than during the week.

That being said, I recently came across an amazing channel on youtube called Art Documentaries, and it has a playlist of a BBC series titled What Do Artists Do All Day? I honestly have a hard time with watching just one episode, and I am not a marathon-series-watching individual. Either they don't hold my interest long enough, or I feel too antsy because I feel like I need to be getting something done, or I'm not being productive. It's easier with documentaries because I feel like I'm learning something. Otherwise, TV is not my preferred way of relaxing. That being said, I did watch the series on my computer at my desk while I worked on other projects, one of which I'll share in a moment.

But first, Vettriano. What I find so completely inspirational about this artist is that he is a (now) recognized, self-sufficient, successful, current artist. But he never went to art school. In fact his application to art school was rejected. He doesn't have a big, fancy studio - instead, he paints out of his home. And he has been quite popular, despite not being popular with the "high class artists," but he's been insanely popular with the general public. In fact, if you google him, I'm SURE you've come across at least one of his paintings before. He makes art that is easily relatable, even by people who have a more difficult time connecting with art, the "I don't get art" types. And I really don't get why (I mean I do, but I don't) his "credibility" as an artist was so heavily questioned - because he paints from photograph references. He sets the poses up. He's still in charge of choosing his subject matter. And he's doing it. No matter what anyone else thinks of him, no matter some people's negative opinions of his work, he's still putting himself out there. "At least I try." And try he does, all without a college degree and the student loan debt.

The reason it's inspirational to me, personally, is because I was strongly discouraged from going to art school. As in "we won't pay for you to go to school for a hobby" discouraged. Yeah, I could've been stubborn and taken out my own loans. I definitely had plenty of outside encouragement for it, having been accepted through a regional portfolio review for an intensive AP art class, or one of the administration at the Memphis College of Art telling me I would be instantly accepted if I applied, or having won several awards in juried shows. But it was scary doing it by myself. Tuition is scary. It's even more frightening now. I did go to college for architecture but dropped out in the middle of my third year (it was a six year program). And honestly, even though I know there are PLENTY of people who are bucking the system nowadays, finding jobs based on portfolios or a combination of work experience or a business taking a chance on them (I even married one such individual), this was 15 years ago. In the back of my head, I've always felt like a bit of a fraud because I don't have a select group of individuals signing off saying yep, I'm an artist. I felt more like a fraud going to school for something I really no longer felt in my heart, even though at first I did. It wasn't my first choice, and in school I realized it wasn't what I wanted to do. Dropping out was less scary than student loans. So here's Vettriano, proving that if you have the drive, the desire, that bit of you telling you that you need to do this, and you are willing to put in the effort to read the books, watch the videos, possibly find a mentor or mentors, educate yourself in most of the things that you'd do if you went to school, you can still have a successful art career. You just have to grow a thick skin to deal with the "purists."

And I think as a homeschooling parent, whose own children will be "bucking the system" so to speak, I feel even more driven to fulfill myself as a human being. Maybe so I don't feel like a fraud to them when I tell them to follow their dreams, whatever they may be.

So on to one of my latest projects. Back in June I completed a needle felted succulent for the facebook needle felting exchange group I belong to. It's fun, there's a new challenge every month (this month it's the beach, and whatever our take is on that). I couldn't help but make a few more, which are listed for sale in my Etsy shop. Here, take a look! (ps, click on the images to move the slideshow along)

I think they're adorable! I plan on making more, maybe other variations of the same ones, especially other color lithops, but I am currently out of tiny pots. So I'll attempt making some tiny pots out of polymer this time - these were ones I found as fairy garden accessories at Joann's.

What are your opinions on higher education for certain "trades"? While I would agree to maybe avoid having surgery done by someone who was purely self-taught, do you think there are certain degrees which aren't really a necessity (keeping in mind that there have been a number of successful individuals, such as Steve Jobs, who never got a college degree)? I'm not saying don't go to art school - if you can afford it and that's what you really want to do, go for it! But is it REALLY necessary? I'd love to hear your thoughts.