New York City and the Chickadees


An artist doing a demonstration on YouTube

Am I starting to have this reputation for being too critical about conventional subjects often depicted by bourgeoning artists?

If yes, please allow me to clarify. I have always said that art done by amateurs is as valid as the one done by professionals because it contributes to the health and happiness of our many diverse communities. All forms of art and creativity are respectable because they are the product of the artists’ exploration of their own self, a manifestation of their individuality. However, life is all about evolution; art as society has to progress too.  Too many artists today are repeating and repeating the same old subjects in the same old ways. It seems that in 2016 many do not want to go beyond “modernism” which was reached around 1965 – half a century ago; or even Impressionism a century and a half ago.  I have never asked my students to paint abstraction which by the way is unfairly associated with contemporary art; but to paint accordingly to their time, may it be a landscape, a portrait, an animal scene, or anything else. The only thing I repeat is… “not to repeat!”

Many of you know that I have been teaching art history and painting in a North American art school and Italy for more than two decades. As a professor, I always give the best of my intention to the best of my knowledge, just like any good parent would do with their children. I cannot teach only “simple” things in our highly complex world. I want to see an “evolution”, a transformation “of the self”. We (42 people) have just returned from New York city where, as always, saw great exhibits, great galleries, in brief great art. New York belongs, indeed to the great “artworld” as Arthur Danto defines it. For three full days in New York, while ambulating in the Met, the Guggenheim, the MoMA and the Chelsea galleries with my group of students, artists and art lovers, I passionately tried to convey the message that subjects such as “barns in the field, chickadees on pine branches with chunky snowflakes, swans in the sunset” (just google these topics) are simply over, unless they are painted differently or are accompanied by a strong concept. Even in the time of Baroque, “chickadees of all types” were relegated to porcelain painting, embroidery, marquetry, etc. But to great painting? So if in the great era of Baroque, they knew this already, why, do we still find paintings of “chickadees”?

My following posts will try to explain my understanding of art and its role in society. By doing so, it will also clarify the way we instruct during our painting workshops in Tuscany, the reason why we have, at Walk the Arts, so many returnees.


by | May 3, 2016 | General, Painting


  1. Sarah Cowling

    Yes, yes!!

  2. Louise Vaillancourt

    Merci, Yves, de nous rappeler – de continuer de nous rappeler – l’importance de faire les choses autrement. Thank you for reminding us – for continuing to remind us – of the importance of doing things differently.

  3. Denise Lombard

    As always Yves, you pull us up and push us forward, thank you…

  4. dominiquelarocque

    Start with GREAT LIVING! Start with living AUTHENTICALLY! Start with BEING TRUE to one’s SELF! Then, the great art will manifest! Art is how you breath, how you smile, how you dress, how you talk, how you sing, how you speak your truth…on or off the canvas!



  1. How I see Art (2) – Walk the Arts (living through the arts) - […] and as said in my last post, life is all about evolution; if society has to evolve, its art…
  2. How I see Art (4a) – Walk the Arts (living through the arts) - […] I would like you to relate this post with this one on art-worlds, and this one.  Next post: Intention. …

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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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What is “metaphysics”?


Since the advent of History, there has always been metaphysics: the Greek, the medieval, the rational, the modern. Each of these metaphysics answers to the other. The metaphysics of Plotinus responds to that of the Stoics, as that of Spinoza responds to that of Descartes, etc. (p. 80). Metaphysics is a deep reflection on things.

I return to visual art, especially to the matter of the intelligible aspect of painting: doesn’t Monet’s thought meet that of Turner, Picasso’s to Cézanne? Doesn’t Monet’s thought respond to Turner’s, Picasso’s to Cézanne’s? Shouldn’t we feed our own work of art from a greater one, which has withstood the test of time? Would metaphysics be evolutive? Would my current work necessarily prevail over the one of yesteryear?

Are We Jugglers of Life?


I am currently in Colombia on a beach, far away from the crowds because of the pandemic. And every year that I am on that beach, Picasso’s painting Les pauvres au bord de la mer (title in French) comes to my mind. More than a century passed by, and we still witness the same inequities. I keep thinking about them, the reason I wrote, during the pandemic, a novella on our society today’s conditions of which I am sharing this dialogue.

“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?

We can’t wait to see you again!


Travelling to Italy to paint and eat! This is what we want! We are optimistic about our upcoming art workshop in Tuscany, Studio Italia 2021 (October 1–10).
In a nutshell; we cannot wait to meet everyone, to see you again, to have this morning coffee together in Tuscany, to do art as a group, in brief, to fully enjoy life all around a gourmet meal with excellent wines.

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.

May I see the instructor’s works?


So why do we attend a painting workshop In Tuscany, Provence or South America? We attend a workshop to learn from each other, to share our passion, to live an art experience and to enjoy the power of knowledge through creation. This is what we offer at Walk the Arts.

Plein Air Painting = Trapping the Moment


Here’s a curious paradox: stopping time by painting quickly. Can one set a trap to catch the moment’s impression? Can the artist’s canvas trap the beauty and the wonder of observed events which melt all too quickly in the flow of time? Can time be halted? Yes, says Michael Findlay, obviously, this is what artists do…

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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