There are those who believe that dvds and books - and presumably tuition - can teach us little, and that it's practice that brings results. And I suppose that I see the point, theoretically. It has been suggested to me that those who become over-dependent on tuition, particularly of the kind which the so-called "self taught" tend to purchase (ie, those dvds, books, magazine articles etc) are open to excessive influence from the painters they most admire. Well, I wouldn't mind if my work resembled Turner's, to be honest... but I did think one local artist who exhibited work in a library was pushing things just a bit when I recognized his paintings as extremely close copies of those of Norman Battershill - taken from a book published some years before which I happened to own. Not "after Norman B", or anything of that sort; these were signed with the copyist's name. They weren't as good as the originals, unsurprisingly, but actually were a reasonably close match... This was a good few years ago now, and I said nothing at the time and am glad I didn't; tribute had gone too far, but all the same it was a small local exhibition - had it been any more than that, then maybe a career as an art-forger beckoned for this painter. But I thought that there was probably no intention to deceive. I might have taken a different view if they'd been copies of my own paintings, though.... always assuming anyone would want to copy them! Two thoughts arise from this. One is that I think I agree that you can't actually pass on technique to others - you can only learn how to handle brushes, mix paint, draw, by physically doing it (although a hint or two along the way doesn't hurt). Where I think a lot of us may need help is in areas like perspective, and composition. Because I keep it as simple as I possibly can, I have few problems with the former these days, but still find myself putting things in what is obviously - in retrospect - the wrong place, where they either compete with what was supposed to be the centre of interest or just fall off the edge of the painting. And I know it's plain laziness on my part that causes this - in watercolour, you HAVE to plan in advance, and I tend not to make too many compositional errors in consequence (I make plenty of others, but let's skate over those). In acrylic and oil, you can paint over mistakes - but (while I know that many better artists than I have done it) I still don't think one should just saunter into a painting as if pre-planning didn't matter. One day, I shall successfully remember this when the urge to paint in oil or acrylic comes over me. Back to copying - I had been planning a picture a while ago; probably a fairly obvious composition, of a tower at Carisbrooke Castle on the Isle of Wight. I had done the drawing, when I noticed in a gallery window a watercolour by the excellent IW artist Martin Swann, who had obviously had exactly the same idea... it put me off trying my own version. Stupid, really! How many people, after all, have painted the Needles (for those that don't know, the chalk formation off Freshwater at the end of which sits a lighthouse), or Cowes Week, or other landmarks? They aren't all copying each other.... It was probably the memory of that artist who so exactly copied Norman Battershill's work that put me off, because I didn't want to be accused of copying. But it's all right now I've told everyone in this blog... I've exorcized the demon, and will paint the picture. I don't think, returning to the theme with which I started, that those who take tuition in whatever form are necessarily or even probably going to end up aping their tutors or betraying their influences - I'm certain, for instance, that when I do get round to painting my tower, it will look very different to Martin's painting . No; the danger lies elsewhere - that is, it's so easy to put off doing your own work, and to convince yourself that you're really studying, thinking about your approach, when you read a book or watch an instructional dvd; when what you're really doing is delaying the evil moment of facing up to your blank canvas or sheet of paper. So OK: back to work, then.....