I get tired of high school level art competitions and juried show where the judges try to "read into" the student's artwork. We teach a lot of skills in our beginner classes, and reinforce them in our advanced classes. Although we encourage creative expression (what art teacher doesn't?) we, as a department, believe that skills and craftsmanship are the basis for that expression.
You can usually tell the student who has developed his/her skills and craftsmanship. It is apparent in all their works, whether it is an abstract painting or a coil pot.
The funniest line (excuse!) I heard from a student who did not apply himself while in an art class was, "Well, I like to do 'free art'." When asked what "free art" was, he replied, "You just do what you feel!" Unfortunately, he did not wish to learn the skills needed to express what he felt!
Best of luck to you!