Someone who paints with a brush is going to be able to pick up a computer-based tool, much less a highly complex 3D modeling and rendering application? I'm sorry, I don't think so. I've seen endless numbers of traditional artists, even those used to computers (both those who use computers in their art work and those who don't) who, despite extensive artistic knowledge and skill, are baffled by 3D modeling programs.
Actually, I've seen several do it so I guess it's who you know and where you're looking.
All the folks I knew were also smart about it. No sitting at home with a book for ten weeks trying to figure out what was what with a cracked copy of 30-day 'trial' software for these guys and gals. They went out and got some professional training directly from AutoCAD and Lightwave. (One mark of a true Pro - they don't try to reinvent the wheel!) They were also smart about getting their employers to pay for it.
Interestingly enough, they told me that the thing that made it relatively easy for them to catch on was their existing knowledge
of color theory, lighting, form construction, and perspective. In short, the basic repertoire of skills any visual artist needs to master - no matter what
medium they wish to work in.
And they learned all of this while in art school. And well before
the advent of affordable PC-based 3D software.
They said once you understood perspective and form, and had a working knowledge of lighting angles, learning out how to do it all with nurbs and splines and polygonal modeling became a relatively straightforward exercise. Most of it involved learning some new vocabulary. That, and where on the program menu some tool or setting could be found.
As far as 3D in general goes, I do agree with much of what you're saying. But 3D is such a different and new
art form that I'd be willing to bet that we haven't seen the first truly great artist that this 'medium' is going to produce. I'm sure a digital Rembrandt or Michelangelo will someday come along to teach us all what this new art form is really
about. But until then, we'll just have to content ourselves with looking at "pretty pictures" and "cool stuff."
IMHO the current crop of tools has a long way to go before they catch up to what people with the vision want to do with them. (Maybe that's why so many people working with 3D very often talk about nothing but the challenges they encountered getting their software to do what they wanted it to - and that's assuming they could get it to do what they wanted at all?
So right now, I'd put 3D more at the 'clever' stage of it's development. The tools are too much in flux and far too difficult to work with.
Don't get me wrong. I love 3D artwork. I even collect it. But from what I've seen, 3D 'art' is more "artsy" than artistic. At least to my eyes.
I'm sure many people will feel differently about that than I do - but hey! It's a great big beautiful world out there so there's plenty of room for differing opinions.