‘Everyone can draw and paint’ was a title for a class I saw recently. I’d say ‘everyone can draw and paint up to a point’ would be much more accurate, but I’m guessing that wouldn’t sell classes so well.
It’s interesting how controversial it can be for a professional artist (and by professional I mean somebody who makes a living as an artist) to come out and suggest that ‘art’ isn’t universally achievable. To tell people at large that their efforts, however delightful, do not make them artists is often seen as nasty elitist insecurity on our part. I cook, I take photos, I sew and I garden. I’m pretty good at all of those and I enjoy them immensely. What I don’t expect is to be considered a chef, photographer, tailor or professional gardener. I’m not hurt by this and nor do I feel that these various professions are somehow being elitist by excluding me from their ranks. After all, and here’s the point, they spend years learning, studying, practicing, perfecting.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the fact that I teach and that most of my students are total beginners. I know that my classes bring them pleasure and nobody, and my students will agree, is more excited than me by their marvelous prints. But to actually make a living, earn an annual income year in and year out, large enough to fix the plumbing and pay the mortgage, is not a matter of the odd class and enthusiasm. It’s down to hard won skills and talent developed over years of training and effort. So let’s not confuse art being for everyone (which it certainly is) and everyone being an artist (which they certainly aren’t).