Whoever the master is whom you prefer, this must only be a directive for you. Otherwise you will never be anything but an imitator. With any feeling for nature whatever, and some fortunate gifts, you should be able to dissociate yourself; advice, the methods of another must not make you change your own manner of feeling. Should you at the moment be under the influence of one who is older than you, believe me as soon as you begin to feel yourself, your own emotions will finally emerge and conquer their place in the sun - get the upper hand, confidence - what you must strive to attain is a good method of construction.
from letters to Charles Camoin
Aix, 9 December 1904
Couture [Thomas Couture] used to say to his pupils: "Keep good company, that is: Go to the Louvre. But after having seen the great masters who repose there, we must hasten out and by contact with nature revive in ourselves the instincts and sensations of art which dwell within us."
Aix, 13 September 1903
We must not, however, be satisfied with retaining the beautiful forumulas of our illustrious predecessors. Let us go forth to study beautiful nature, let us try to free our minds from them, let us strive to express ourselves according to our personal temperaments. Time and reflection, moreover, modify little by little our vision, and at last comprehension comes to us.
to Emile Bernard