Francisco de Zurbaran, Saint Francis in Meditation, oil on canvas (c. 60 x 39 in.), c. 1636, National Gallery of Art, Washington.

Thanks to everyone for your kind messages during these challenging times for all. Throughout the years more and more we realize that many of our lifelong friendships have been built around our workshops. Yes, we are doing well here in the Ottawa countryside. Life can indeed change in a nanosecond! Three weeks ago, we were having drinks in Cartagena with our friends of Studio Colombia Art & Eat. A few days later and for the first time in 20 years, we had to cancel our annual trip to New York City.  And now, our beloved summer art workshops in Italy and France are on standby. But this crisis affecting each and all of us will pass too. In the meantime, what is most important is to keep healthy, busy and creative.

As you already know, I am an art historian professor and art teacher. During our summer painting workshops in Europe, the great immortals of art are always there inspiring my instruction. Alberti’s Della Pittura is essential for teaching a good subject matter, Brunelleschi for perspective drawing, Monet for colors, Picasso for letting go, Duchamp for the importance of the concept, and so forth. I have always said that art history knowledge and art practice go hand in hand. Now we have been told to stay inside, to self-quarantine, to live a moment of solitary confinement, in our own monastic cells.

This brings back memories of medieval philosophy and de facto to Giotto’s frescoes done in Assisi depicting the reclusive life of Saint Francis, and of course, the beautiful works on Saint Francis himself, in meditation, by Zurbarán. It also revives the interconnectedness among history of religion, art, and society. When teaching art history classes to my much younger students, some thought I was crossing the threshold of the political correctness when I was talking about religion. They didn’t realize that their basic genetic fabric was based on religion (Edgar Morin, La Méthode 4 Les idées). For this reason, they keep marrying in churches, later baptizing, and respecting the boundaries of pictorial rectitude when they paint. But that is another story.

In this time of “self-quarantinization”, I am also thinking about all the monastic rules (regola) established since the last fifteen centuries, many of them founded after a pandemic of some kind: the Benedict Rule, the Carthusian Rule, the Franciscan Rule among many other. Despite their origins and differences, most promote contemplation, self-imposed discipline and silence all aimed to accomplish the great “Work of God” (Opus Dei). Let’s see this pandemic as a propitious time to quit this whirlwind of vanity and consumerism. A moment of silence and meditation so needed for our well-being and our own great human work (Opus Humanum), no matter what it is. During times of self-isolation, Boccaccio wrote his Decameron, Shakespeare wrote Macbeth, Newton theorized his theory of gravity and so on.

In our studio, at our easel or our desk, the time is right for deepening personal truths, so essential for future artistic endeavors. The time is favorable for revamping our own publications including our artistic statements and websites. The time is appropriate to devote ourselves to serious art readings. In brief, a time to search, a time to find a new equilibrium.

But this isolation is temporary as we all need to live in the community for emotional, social and economic reasons. Knowledge has to be spread. So, let’s enjoy this moment of solitary confinement to refine our ideas, so later we can share them. Covid-19 will be part of history!



  1. Mimi Placencia

    Well said. I appreciate your historical perspective. And anyone devoted to their art expression will continue their work.

    A group of us started a “Covid 19 – 2 week challenge” to paint every day and share on Facebook in this group. This kind of support is important specially at a time like this.

    Your message comes at a good time as well. I’ve been thinking about you and Monica and your welfare. I am glad that you were safe and continuing your work as an inspirational teacher. Mimi Placencia

  2. Heather Wadrop

    Thank you Yves. Indeed now, for me, it is the time to review the past. To be reflective: my work, my art, my family, friends and relationships with others and yes even my life. Then to look at the present time. How can I maximise my efforts. I’m unable to leave the house and have been house locked for weeks already. So I will review the past and glean from it what I may, and can, and then move on ensuring I maximise my time and efforts.
    Your influence on me has been immense. Five years ago you introduced us to the history of art. The times we spent in galleries and Churches were not wasted on me. Then the practical side of letting go…scoop and apply…laughter, companionships. Joy and I were totally engaged in all and everything that occurred.
    I will move forward and in to the future more aware now of what possibilities there are.
    I will not paint for the sake of something to do. I will not paint with thoughts of what it could or should be or if it is right! I will paint with freedom and for myself. I will spend time on the history of art. I will diversify. I will look to my family and friends and ensure they too are managing in these hard times. My only concern is that I can not put my hand out to help others in a practical sense. The old nurse in me is crying to be out there.
    Provence or not; time and circumstances will decide.
    My very best wishes to you both and your circle of families and friends.
    Heather…from still a sunny South Australia.

  3. Denise Lombard

    Thank you, Yves, always inspirational words from you. We are calling this time “Splendid Isolation” as we enjoy each other( even after 58 years of marriage), bask in the late sunshine in our garden, and keep busy with all the tasks neglected for too long.
    My big challenge is to clear out my Art room so with it clean, tidy and organised I can start painting with new inspiration! We send you our love, keep safe and well! John and Denise Lombard


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Who are we?

We all make art! It is part of culture. It is deeply rooted in human nature as a way of communicating with others. We all need to tell our stories because it is stories that link us all. We are all one, one creative mind! Though, all unique and equipped with unique ways of expressing ourselves. We live in constant search of that unique liberating voice. At Walk the Arts we aim to facilitate our art makers to explore new territories. Our painting classes and art history trips on three continents are meant to be rounded art experiences among small groups of like-minded adults. We offer an environment that fosters creativity. As we always say, art as religion is just a matter of faith. This blog is about living fully the experience of art, about finding our single artistic path, about the joy of art-making. We believe that making art accessible to all will lead to a betterment of our society.


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“Re-situating” myself


Alone in your studio, guided by your intuition, stop, sit down, with your notes in hand, your mindmap on the wall, to gather a feel for the next avenues. I suggest you take a few days to write down a first draft of an artistic statement. It will put some order into your thoughts so as to better clarify them. Be warned, however, that this will not be your final statement, as others will follow.
Set parameters: no more than 500 words, write a seductive title, an incipit (very first line) that hooks; write in the active form. Watch out for repetition and tautology! The more honest you are with yourself, the easier it will be to write this text. The more you hesitate to let go with your art, the harder it will be.

Gray a Philosophical “Color”


“Over the past 40 years, I’ve seen students in the process of transitioning from saturated colors to grayed ones, a sign of serious questioning about painting. As a beginner, we shy away from mixing colors, and the more we progress in our creative practice, the more daring we become. That’s life! When we’re children, we only see saturated colors, and as we get older, gray takes over. Adults realize that gray is everywhere. “The color of truth is gray” wrote the French author André Gide.”

We can face Artificial Intelligence


How many times were we tempted to fall into the trap of mainly teaching painting techniques now all available on the Net? Just type “How to paint an Italian Landscape” and … two million plus videos jump onto your computer screen.

A First History of NFTs


“I think the reason […] I’ve chosen the career that I have is because artists are always the seers or the truth tellers. They show us the way forward”. Nora Burnett Abrams, The Story of NFTs, Artists, Technology, and Democracy. P. 53

The World of NFTs!


I had to know if NFT art is and will be a fad or not. In Canada’s national capital (Ottawa) art world, I kept hearing that it is not going to last, it’s all smoke and mirrors, ya-ya-ya, etc. So, I entered the Palazzo Strozzi with an open mind. I saw the works, I read everything on the walls, and I came out of the exhibition thinking “It is here to stay.” From that moment, on la Via de’ Tomabuoni, I felt compelled as an art historian and art educator to embrace this new reality. Didn’t we do it for Pop Art and Conceptual Art in the late ’50s and ‘60s?

My painting workshop in Tuscany


Already a month since my return from a fun-filled art-learning experience in Tuscany, Italy! The workshop went far beyond what I even imagined, or hoped it would be. The roughly eight hours per day for most days of art instruction gave me a new perspective on my art: where I was and where I wanted to be, the past and the future. But, together as a group, we were living in the present.

“Perseverance” is the key to all successful artists


Perseverance is the key to all successful artists.

I always ask my painting students to memorize … “Until then, we will not rest or falter. Hand in hand with others thirsting for a better life, no matter how long it takes, regardless of support or persecution, we will joyfully respond to a savage need for liberation”.

Studio Italia, a painting vacation with…


If our art workshops focused mostly on painting techniques, then why traveling to Italy and spending money when you could stay at home and learn everything you need through the Internet for free?

Art and Neurosciences


When a subject becomes familiar, the brain activity shuts down like when viewing a lovely chickadee painting…

Can we talk about the neuroscience of art? This is the question that French neurobiologist Jean-Pierre Changeux addresses in his beautiful book The Beauty in the Brain or La Beauté dans le Cerveau (Odile Jacob, 2016). Prof. Changeux describes how the human brain behaves when making or contemplating a work of art. To make a long story short, he argues that the neural bases of aesthetic pleasure are the product of the link between cognitive and emotional brain functions, in other words, the harmony between reason and emotion. Moreover, he gives some tips on how artists can maximize the impact of their works on their audience.

Evolving in art is just a matter of faith; only believe!


We refrain from teaching painting techniques easily found on the Net. We prefer taking the necessary time (36 hours) to fully involve the participant in reflecting on her or his art — including all levels, all media […]
Rest assured that having attended one of our online classes, you will be more confident in taming the landscape in your own way while on a plein-air painting workshop.

Let Go! The Artist’s Way of Cooking

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Ten years ago, here in Tuscany, we decided to write a recipe book but with so many good cookbooks in the market, we needed to propose a new idea. We had to find a modus operandi close to who we are and what we do as visual artists. The answer was in front of us and painting gave it to us: art and color!

Travelling with meaning : a painting workshop in Italy


More and more travellers from the developed world are looking for meaningful travels. We are aiming for journeys that allow us to learn something new, to deepen our culture, to enhance our lives. Purpose, inspiration and self-discovery are now vital elements in our traveling choices. Probably, this is why our quality painting workshops offered since 1997, have become more and more popular.

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