We live in an age of increasing synergy

Art and Healing
by Heather Wardrop

“Right now, in 2015, art is being used for healing once more. Yes, it’s happening; and it’s part of a general movement in which areas of human interest and behaviors that were once separated into watertight compartments are coming together again. We live in an age of increasing synergy” said Margaret Atwood at the 23rd Adam Linton Memorial Lecture during the recent Ontario Medical Association annual meeting. At Walk the Arts we fully agree with Atwood’s statement. Moreover, during our June session of Studio Italia 2015, we had the privilege to witness the great synchronicity of life through one of participants, Heather Wardrop from South Australia. Almost simultaneously, Heather both registered for our art workshop in Tuscany and was diagnosed with cancer. Here is her story.

My world was turned upside down

Neither of us, me and my dear friend Joy from Cupertino, had a great deal of experience with painting, both reliant on the Internet, books and occasional classes to try to gain some knowledge. In September 2014 we decided to register for a painting workshop in Tuscany scheduled for June 2015. To attend a ten-day workshop in June 2015 was a real opportunity and challenge for us and we were excited about every aspect of what lay ahead: a dream location, the food and wine, art history. We were ready for it all.

But, shortly after registering and without warning, my world was turned upside down when diagnosed with lymphoma which demanded very aggressive chemotherapy. I adopted the “I can get through this” attitude although my heart broke. Would I see my beloved grandkids grow up? There were no guarantees that the treatment would work. The outcome was grim. The months, the chemotherapy treatments slipped by. I didn’t lose my hair, they fell out, and I still have it in a box! I became an expert at tying head scarves, I did not want to look like a “cancer sufferer on a journey”. I was fighting a battle and my family fought it with me!

The “what about the June art workshop” rattled in my head. Counting the weeks and months of treatment it would be a close call. Would I make it? Joy provided support only a true friend can, travelling from the United Sates to be with me. We painted together and we laughed and yes, cried together, but always the optimists, we continued with our planning. Joy would not let me lose sight of the workshop. Shall we take oils or watercolors? Neither of us had used oils before so another challenge for us; then working out how to get all the canvas paper to Tuscany! We started to have a play in oils neither of us not really knowing what we were doing.

My goal was tangible; I had nothing to lose, all to gain

Plans for Italy and the painting workshop kept me focused. My husband and daughter were fully supportive, encouraging me all the way even though worrying about me traveling on my own from Australia to Italy. In mid March my scan results were in, I was in “remission”. Still more treatment, but by May 7th all finished and I had the final go ahead. Nothing could stop us from reaching my goal, our goal. A personal trainer helped me with building my strength, I did any and everything I could to get myself to Italy. The treatment of lymphoma is no guarantee of longevity, each day is a day to be grasped and lived. I refused to have my cancer hinder my goal, my dream.

June 2015 arrived and we made it! We were in Italy, meeting our exuberant instructor (Yves) and our so expressive and beautiful chef (Mónica) and the intimate artist group, sharing their stories. I felt quite overwhelmed. There I was with like-minded people in an idyllic setting about to launch myself into what I hoped I could manage physically and mentally, let alone artistically. I can remember joking and standing up and saying “I am walking back to Australia!” And there were tears too as I told my own story of how important the workshop was to me in my battle with cancer.

From day one, when the paints came out, I knew I could embrace the concept of letting go, loosening up. I had no need to hold back, at last I had stopped worrying about “getting it right”. And I lost myself in my art. I felt like a sponge soaking up our instructor’s teachings. He kept setting parameters, we kept mixing colours on the palette, vigorously applying on the canvas; “scoop and apply” he kept saying “the light is fleeting!” I had nothing to lose, all to gain. There was so much more to the workshop: the art history lectures, our meals with Monica, the painting excursions to the wonderful destinations, Montepulciano, Cortona, Pienza; our trips to Florence and Assisi. And most important the friendships made not to be missed or forgotten. The 20 paintings were dry enough to be packed and we returned to our respective countries. From then it was up to me to remain open and to apply what I had learnt.

My goal was tangible! Yes!

Having my goal so strongly set in place helped me enormously as I worked through my treatment. If faced with such a predicament, consider well before cancelling a workshop before you need to.   I could have cancelled very early on, but focusing and visualizing myself in Tuscany pulled me through bad days and the tough times. I now feel empowered. Today, I have a new focus, a new goal: to prepare for my exhibition of plein-air paintings based on Australian countryside as I travel our beautiful and diverse country in our motorhome. Joy and I have planned further ahead to 2017 for our Provence art workshop, and still with Walk the Arts. Thank you Studio Italia!




  1. Painting your personal stories (with gusto) – Walk the Arts (living through the arts) - […] We live in an age of increasing synergy […]

Submit a Comment

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.


Contact Us! North America and Europe

Twitter Updates

Radical-polemicist-radical or capitalist-strategist?


In conclusion, it is our fundamental nature that is responsible for this preponderance of bad news in the media. It is up to us to make a conscious effort to try to arrive at a more balanced discourse while keeping a critical mind. Our stress level would certainly decrease.

The bastard of Marcel Duchamp: Contemporary Art


In short, I could go on and on to recount Madame Sourgins’ whiny whims, but it is time to conclude. She is accurate to write that the pleasures of culture are “delayed joys” which require cultural awareness and some knowledge. Visual arts, like all cultural expressions, reflect the society and the times in which we live. Walk the Arts’ artists are aware of what is being done in the field of contemporary art, good or bad. It is up to them to choose whether or not to venture into the contemporary department. But it is important to acknowledge that there is no turning back. Contemporary art is here to stay.  

COVID-19 and Your Art


Let’s see this pandemic as a propitious time to quit this whirlwind of vanity and consumerism. […] 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.

Art, You and 2020


How can I become a better artist in 2020? How can I take my art up a notch, only a single notch? It may be landscape painting, abstraction, modern or contemporary art.[…] How can I increase my artistic knowledge during 2020, so my art becomes more particular, more distinguishable, more authentic, more profound? For 2020, I will try my best to accomplish the following list…

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.

Meaningful journeys.


At Walk the Arts we aim to surpass easily-found knowledge on YouTube such as how “to mix your greens”, even “how to paint an Italian landscape”; and if you can learn the latter in a video, why attending a painting workshop in Tuscany? This reality has encouraged us to become a conduit of art knowledge, not a mere repeater of it.

The Post-Coitus Works of Art


We agree that a completed work can bring a great sense of boredom, even disappointment, or a sense of euphoria that encourages pursuing a career as an artist. We have a choice; “Well done! What do I paint now as my next subject? Or “WOW! How can I push this canvas so it becomes better and more complex in the reflection of my time and my life?”

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…

The Stone and the Kiss – Time is You!


“To conclude, if time is a juxtaposition of events, “a network of kisses”, the manifestation of the world in constant changes, why so many “artists” always paint the same subject, the same shapes; repeat the same colour schemes, the very same stories, the…? “

Self-hypnosis and Art


To approach the artistic creation, to give life to something new, this new thing that makes us unique, does it not leave the realm of “objective reality” to fit or to insert into the invisible world of “anomalies” under the state of self-hypnosis? {…} In short, painting is not so difficult to practise (you can find millions of techniques on Google), but to achieve extreme clarity, that is something else!

Concerning A.I., we are still good for a few centuries!


Although artificial intelligence is producing major upheavals in the areas of health, transportation, commerce and even art, it is impossible for it to replace human creativity for a very simple reason: machines are not endowed with life, so they are not vulnerable to the existential questions intimately related to birth and death, freedom and determinism as well as memories and the future.

Let Go! The Artist’s Way of Cooking


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!

Experiencing Eternity


Eternity is outside time. Eternity should not be mistaken for the elasticity of time, a time that never ends. Yes! eternity is indeed outside time. It doesn’t have a beginning nor an end. It is something in itself […] During our art workshops, our main role at Walk the Arts is to endow the proper environment to bring you into that state of eternity. How? That is a very complex question and we only can provide a very simple answer which is…

Painting the landscape in a different way


Last June, Kim Wilkie, an artist from London Ontario (Canada), participated in our painting workshop in Tuscany, Studio Italia. While Kim has been working for a while with acrylic paint and threads to produce abstract paintings, in Italy she used soil and other elements found in nature to depict the Tuscan landscape obtaining very interesting results.

Injecting more Silence in 2018


Why our eyes are always glued on our phone to read the same things? In 2018, why can’t we push new ideas by just trying to say something different, that belong to our own self, our own particularity without fearing what the other will think?

Art Workshop Israel (301)


During Workshop Israel, your brain will be spinning at 100 miles per hour. The place is overwhelming as we already said. Every human being wants to live fully, being aware at all moments; and this remains a choice, your own conscious choice. We assure you that there will be no time to set up your easel like we did in Italy (Workshop 101) and Provence (Workshop 201); to mix physical colours, add them on the canvas on your easel; and then repack everything and back to our lodge.

Art and Algorithms


What is an algorithm? It is simply a recipe, a procedure that lists all necessary steps to complete a task. Some of these algorithms are constructed from a vast array of data fluxes created and shared through the multiple existing networks, or information repositories. But what about painting? Are we, artists, in a way protected from this evil thing called algorithm?

How I see art (4c)


In art, a concept is not self-sufficient, it needs a strong relationship with other ideas that you have acquired during your life time, through your knowledge. In other words, a concept is an amalgamation of many smaller ideas derived from your own ethic, social, cultural values ; and on top of that we have the throw the notion of intention.

Furtive Peace


I think that there are many ways that I can help spread peace everywhere. Firstly, I must start in my own person. I must be in peace with myself and then with others by treating everyone the same…



To visit a major contemporary art exhibition today is like attending a series of very short spectacles comprising visually striking performances or displays. This search of visual impact in contemporary art is making major international visual arts venues such as the Venice Art Biennale, extremely interesting. In the context of our upcoming trip to visit the Venice Art Biennale 2017, we have invited Roger Sutcliffe to write about the origin of the innovative ways in which contemporary art is now displayed. Who was the person behind this idea and why?

How I see Art (4b)


When doing art, you need a plan. With the best of your knowledge, you need to identify an action that will help you attain a specific result. Ultimately, your work of art should reflect your end, your purpose, in brief your intention

The Venice Biennale 2017


Now, just imagine this. We start our trip in Rome, on the very hill where Rome was founded. We will study the Greek heritage which made Rome such a powerful empire. Then, we will walk on the very same bridge where the Emperor Constantin had his dream to allow Christianity to be practised in the Roman Empire…and the Venice Biennale 2017

How I see Art (4a)


Are you aware of your own knowledge of art? Do you have a vast or a slight knowledge of art? Do you have a good knowledge of art history, theory and philosophy? When painting, do you get involved into complex or simple reasoning, or no reasoning at all? Do you paint simple or complex subjects?

Painting your personal stories (with gusto)


any artist in search of inspiration need look no further than her/his own life experiences; as we wrote before, it is stories that link us all. The sincere transcription of emotions onto canvas helps artists to convey their message in a powerful and touching way.

How I see Art (3)


Ideas are things able to travel from one body to another body (or object) just looking for its proper biological receptor in order to instigate action in the sphere of ideologies, myths, gods, etc. This action, in our case, is the creative act of making art. Ideas are also instruments of knowledge

How I see Art (2)


But what makes a work of art “excellent”? There are so many answers and it all depends on the artist’s own “art-world”.[…] My “art-world” is a well-circumscribed territory endowed of its own system of transmission devices needed for the circulation of ideas.

How I see Art (1)


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

Ah Surrealism!


If I have decided to expose this feud, it is because it reflects so much the good old healthy intellectual polemics of French Parisian Left Bank Discussion (which is fun) and… you might also learn a bit more on this important movement that was Surrealism.

Reinventing Ourselves


“…what we find fascinating of this story is that at all age life offers opportunities to develop our individuality which is composed not of one, but many identities.”

The Art of Humility


We shall never forget that in today’s Renaissance we live in the “share” era. The true artist remains humble. Your work of art is something you share and not show as an ostentatious act. Never forget that glory is ephemeral unless, of course, you belong to the artist’s pantheon.

Being a conscientious artist in 2016


In 2016, I urge all the primary schools to teach the following art notion: “the integration of context”. The pupil’s own context, since it is the context that gives meaning.

A Second Reformation or a Counter Reformation?


A Second Reformation is being on its way, under the leadership of a Jesuit, and being accomplished by everyone through social media and, of course, though art, since artists often have the sensibility to grasp the future.

Art being accessible to all


… society encourages specialization and categorization, so that we all end up with arbitrary identity labels that limit our potential as human beings. How many times we hear people claiming that they have no creative abilities, simply because they have fallen in discriminatory traps imposed by the social order.

The luxury of space; a personal reboot


How important it is to find in our own home, in our daily life, that unique space that allows us to make a cognitive reset… simply a personal reboot.

The new tablet leading the Second Exodus


“A painting will be undoubtedly transported by a mean of transportation which corresponds to the quality of the painting, meaning that a knowledgeable painting will be transported by powerful vehicle and consequently will go far”

Copying, imitating. Are you sleep walking?


As Márquez states “the more we become one with the crowd, the more we become no one” […] Therefore, when you paint, are you creating or imitating? Or simply sleepwalking…

Art and Medicine


On the surface, science and art seem like such polar opposites. Digging deeper, there are so many interconnections between the two, and this is so apparent in Medicine.