The “Color” of Humanity

Currently in Italy giving our twice-a-year Studio Italia painting workshop. Everyone is painting hard and… playing hard. I am always fascinated by the seriousness of each participant. However, the subject of this post is the color “gray” or “grey” — le gris in French. During our last online painting class, Tamia from Minnesota raised the question about the importance of gray, the reason I am writing this brief post on the question with a philosophical approach. By the way, Tamia just attended our recent painting workshop in Provence.

First, knowing that gray is achromatic (a non-color), it can be achieved by mixing a speckle of black into white… or… mixing the three primary colours and adding white at various degrees. I prefer the latter, because not only that grey yields an impression of light as we see here in Tamia’s Iris (on the right) but also an emotional effect. Tamia’s flowers are permeated with a “human gray” (where hints of colours can be seen) and the painting is powerful.

Grey is powerful just as Jasper John’s painting above entitled White Flag (MoMA). There’s so much written about gray, and so many quotes about this non-color, which proves that, indeed, it shouldn’t be underestimated. Gray is the interval between two poles; it’s the many harmonies between night and day… and of the self. Let’s say straight away that gray plays an intermediary role between white and black, a transitional function between light and dark, where all human relationships and emotions are also played out. So, if painting is self-expression, why not use gray more in painting?

But gray gets some bad press: hair that loses its color, the funereal gray of ashes, “the enemy of all painting” wrote Delacroix in his Journal, ” police gray, the gray of embarrassment” wrote Gilbert Lascault in Peindre. For Goethe, grey is anti-life, gloom, spleen… For Klee, in his Theory of Modern Art, it’s a reflection of chaos… and so on. But for me, gray remains positive: it’s the city, fog, introspection… Gray is all the colors, all the emotions combined, giving depth to the painted work as well as to the human work, “you”! Didn’t Ittens write in his Art of Color, that gray takes on all the other colors that surround it?

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.

Back to Italy. I could write more about gray, but the nature of a post, which must be short and sweet, prevents me from doing so. I talked about it in my book The Artist’s Way fo Cooking (p.78-9). In short, I’m becoming more and more of a proponent of gray, which is why I’m pushing it more during our art workshops in 2023 and in 2024.

Tamia now paints in gray; she’s become a philosopher!

 

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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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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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