Most would-be artists of any kind would do better to consider art a job, rather than a life-style; considering it a life-style just adds a lot of chromatic noise.
Whatever art is, you can see it; and not only can you see it, you can develop taste by looking at it. If you page through a huge (western) art history book that covers everything, say, from Egyptian New Kingdom nature art to minimalism, you begin to see that some painters are simply better than others, even though their subject matter may be the same. Some just paint better. That's all very clear, when we look into the past, because we are not encumbered by currrent cultural noise. And 200 years from now, when people look at the 20th and early 21st century, I think it will be easy for them to pick out the good stuff from the bullshit, in both photography and painting. (And if you want to endow your great-grandchildren's education by buying art now, buy Bay Area figurative art or other cutting-edge California art done since 1950...)
But, just for discussion:
Annie Leibovitz made a famous photo of John Belushi standing by the highway. What will that photo mean 50 years from now, when nobody knows who John Belushi was, or what he meant to his generation? (How many people now would recognize and tremble at a photo of Oscar Wilde, of which there are many?)
When color field painters explore the "flatness" of the field, or when minimalist sculptors make a huge rusty wall out of a Cor-Ten steel sheet, what will that mean fifty years from now when virtually nobody, except few specialists, are aware of our current art controversies and thinking?
My own brief answers are 1) Nobody will care about the Belushi shot, because it's too specific, and at the same time, tells you nothing. It's opaque. You have to know about Belushi before you can care about the photo. On the other hand, with a shot like "Moonrise," you can read all kinds of things into it; and if those things change over time, so what? People will still read their own feelings into it, and it will continue as art. 2) Most (not all) twentieth century abstract art is simply too pure and too intellectual. When the passing intellectual currents are gone, nobody will even understand it, or will even understand why they should attempt to understand it. The exploration of flatness, for example, seems a rather limited goal compared, say, to the exploration of the sublime, or even the exploration of sex, or the exploration of landscape, or the exploration of light...