If there is one aspect of picture-making that distinguishes the trained, professional painter from the able amateur, it is composition. Despite the wealth of information available on the subject in books and online, it’s not so easy to find a description of a coherent, practical method of composing a painting.
Being a self-taught artist is something of a two-edged sword. If you make a success of it – find fame, perhaps, or earn a living from it – then you can wear the label as a badge of honour. If, on the other hand, you do as most of us do and make slow and stuttering progress towards something approaching mediocrity then being self-taught is probably best not mentioned – at least, not to the artistically educated. After all, self-taught at best equates to badly-taught and at worst to not taught at all.
Teaching yourself to paint is probably an ill-advised and certainly an inefficient undertaking. Without a tutor to guide you through a structured learning plan, to assess your work and to explain your failures, progress will inevitably be slow and haphazard. You can look forward to periods of drought and discouragement when ideas fail to materialise and your best efforts produce only disappointment. And if you are trying to teach yourself how to paint in watercolour, it can be even worse. Why?