I've never been one for following the herd.
I'd much rather find things out for myself than sit quietly amongst a crowd of supplicants listening to some windbag demonstrating their superiority in the naive expectation that you will somehow be inspired to emulate, but never exceed, their abilities.
You will have gathered from this that I was not a huge success at school.
I'd rather blaze a trail than trail my blazer.
All of this gives me a warm feeling of maverick integrity and daring independence, but the passage of the years has revealed that it is also an extremely long winded way of going about things.
If I'm going to make it as a portrait artist before they measure me up for some Grampy Pampers, I'm going to have to get a wiggle on.
Against all my instincts, and through gritted teeth, I'm going to have to ask for help.
Andy James is Vice President of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters, but let's not hold that against him.
He occasionally runs courses designed to help aspiring artists so I coughed up, locked the delicate ego in the cupboard under the stairs and joined in.
Mercifully he turned out to be a genuinely nice bloke, a top rate painter and a good teacher to boot.
Now it's not easy making the transition from illustrator to painter, and old habits die hard.
The temptation to employ all the clever tricks and effects that have got me through the last thirty years is strong, but whilst they might impress some observers, they're a dead giveaway to any artist with 'Vice President' on his notepaper.
Suffice to say the experience was a tad humbling, highly informative and ultimately inspiring.
So, armed with a more 'muscular' style, a new set of techniques and the confidence to paint direct from the live model without cheating, it's off into the big wide world to put it into practice.
Here's a peek at some of the exercises he put us through, against the clock and with no safety net:
So what next?
The BP awards are on again, as is the Royal Society open exhibition with a deadline for admissions in Feb.
I'm going to have to have a go, but it feels a bit like being back at school sitting for an exam.
Except this time I can't forge a note from my mum.