Day 1 Highlights from Watercolor Live

Our first “main event” day of Watercolor Live did not disappoint! We enjoyed sessions with Alvaro Castagnet, Francesco Fontana, Paul Jackson, Tom Lynch, Jean Stern, and Carol Carter; as well as bonus presentations with Joe Miller of Cheap Joe’s Art Supplies, Royal Talens featuring Vic Hollins, Blick Art Materials with Sarah Simon, Savoir Faire with Tom Lynch, the Laguna Plein Air Painters Association, and QoR Watercolors – not to mention a high-energy crowd of attendees!

Alvaro Castagnet Watercolor Live
A rare glimpse into the painting process of Alvaro Castagnet

Born in Montevideo, Uruguay, Alvaro Castagnet is one of the top watercolorists in the world today. He was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Plein Air Convention & Expo in Santa Fe, NM. In his Watercolor Live demo, he took us through each step as he painted a cityscape of Prague.

Francesco Fontana's portrait demo - Watercolor Live
Francesco’s in-progress watercolor portrait painting; Image credit: Laura Vailati /

“The more we look at a subject, the more we discover,” said Francesco Fontana, who paints en plein air. He has also been painting portraits and figures, which he demonstrated during his session. Francesco started a portrait painting with a general wash on the paper to “kill the white” and tone the canvas just as one would in an oil painting.

Make the most of your time as Francesco does by doing a separate pencil study while your paper dries.

Paul Jackson Watercolor Live
Paul Jackson takes a poetic approach to painting light and glass in watercolor

“There’s a grand performance of dramatic light beginning in the morning and shifting throughout the day, creating dancing shadows from each of the pieces that I place in the path of the light,” said Paul Jackson. He described his process for determining the final still life setup of the challenging subject of glass in watercolor.

Tom Lynch Watercolor Live
A scene from Tom Lynch’s watercolor painting demonstration; you might also know Tom from his art-related appearances on PBS

“The fun part of being an artist is plein air painting,” said Tom Lynch. He pointed out that the time spent painting outdoors doesn’t have to be about a finished product, but rather can help you learn how to observe. This skill can then be applied to your paintings in the studio, especially when you use the plein air practice exercises he taught during his session.

History of Watercolor
A slide from Jean Stern’s “History of Watercolor” presentation; Image credit: Laura Vailati /

Jean Stern, executive director of the Irvine Museum Collection at the University of California, joined us once again for a fascinating and educational session on the historical development of watercolor painting.

Carol Carter Watercolor Live
Carol Carter’s career has spanned more than 35 years; she shared a wealth of her knowledge in this session on painting the figure in watercolor

Carol Carter gave us a lesson on how to create a figure in a watery environment such as a swimming pool with a focus on color, water ratio to pigment, intensity of color, and informing the figure.

During the day, we also honored the life of watercolorist Kim Minichiello, who passed away in 2021. Kim, a designer for Walt Disney Imagineering, was an internationally recognized, award-winning artist whose career in art and design spanned more than 30 years.

Watercolor Live runs through Saturday, January 29, 2022, with replays available:

View highlights from the Beginner’s Day of Watercolor Live at our sister site,


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