Anyone can try there hand at making art work....anyone. Anyone can pick up the material and learn, anyone can experiment, anyone can act on their desire to make something. ANYONE can even make the decision to boil up the drive it takes to become an artist. In my mind, there are no rules but, also, there ARE rules because it takes a certain drive to become an artist just like it takes a certain amount of drive to become a scientist, a singer, a furniture maker, a salesman, a doctor, a mechanic but anyone, anyone, ANYONE can try. The definition between hobbiest and professional, for me, is in the drive. The desire to explore materials and ideas and give yourself into the obsessive commitment to delve into something that is of you but bigger and outside your control.
Since I was young, the mainstay of my work has been a kind of expressionist, abstract-ish, figurative work based on black and white photographs and although I also do abstracts routed in the exploration and represntation of pure energy, my focus is taking other people's long lost family photos and projecting an emotional idea or under current to the content. I'm not interested in painting the "perfect" figure or being a realist painter, I'm interested in the story behind the photograph. I'm interested in the story of the person(s) being used as reference and the emotional relationship between the photographer, the subject and the viewer.
I remember when my interest in working from black and white photos started - I was 20 years old, a college drop out, a drunk with very few friends and a deep desire to be part of a tribe with strong, loving ties. I loved the look of people in old photographs - the cleanliness, the contrasts, how close everyone appeared to be. I don't think I understood why I was so attracted to old family photos but, after my first pencil drawing of a brother sister duo, I became obsessed. I started collecting photos by the hundreds and working from them (almost exclusively). The subjects were quiet, they didn't criticize or have anything snide to say, the material held secret stories that I could ignore, rework and make my own. Working from photographs gave me the leeway to experiment and try. There is/was no right, there is/ was no wrong. Working from photos has given me the flexibility to work when I can, rework when I need to, experiment with as much courage as I can muster and learn one of my top rules in art: it's all fixable.
Working from photos has also given me room to work in somewhat cowardly conditions - I don't have to go outside and talk to people. I can buffer myself from the outside world and hide in my studio or apartment and keep myself protected from unwanted criticism. That need to protect myself and stay hidden away has given me the freedom to grow and change and develop my work without leaving myself prone to distractions. I really don't need to take myself outside the studio and open myself up to other people's criticisms. I don't need to be audience to other people's emotional monsters, to hear people say my work is triumphant or that I may be failing. I am, on the whole, confident in my content, style, techniques and purpose..... but I am also fully capable and overly qualified to grind myself into the ground all on my own.
That said - anyone can try. Anyone can pick up a brush or a welding tool or a pen or develop a concept. Anyone. And I encourage EVERYONE to try. Everyone should try everything they can because one day you won't even have the option to participate and apply yourself. BUT....the line in the sand, the difference between hobbiest and actual artist, however, is the jump between the person who is willing to attempt to try and the person who is willing to dedicate themselves to the obessive nature of DOING - support or no support, failure or triumph, I am stalwart in my belief that success is in DOING.