Highlights from the 2nd Annual Watercolor Live – Beginner’s Day

We’re back with the 2nd Annual Watercolor Live virtual art conference, with artists from 32 countries joining us for a week of learning and inspiration.

Our fearless leader, CEO and Publisher Eric Rhoads, is under the weather so our host this week with Kelly Kane is Tish de la Bretonne, who flew into our Austin, Texas studios to keep us on track and entertained.

We enjoyed beginner-level how-to painting sessions, prize packages, access to the faculty painting auction, and bonus instruction from some of our sponsors, including a pre-event seminar with Sarah Simon (The Mint Gardener) for Blick Art Materials; Royal Talens featuring Vic Hollins; the Laguna Plein Air Painters Association with Dan Marshall; Pierre Guidetti of Savoir-Faire; and Joe Miller from Cheap Joe’s Art Stuff.

“I have learned something in every video and other demos. This has been an amazing experience. Thank you. Cheers!” ~Marti H.

Join us now at WatercolorLive.com!

Wennie Huang - Watercolor Live
Wennie Huang gave us the basics of the basics in the first session of Watercolor Live 2022

Wennie Huang introduced us to the essential materials she uses, such as her paints and brushes, as well as techniques for painting wet on wet, glazing, and more.

Julie Pollard - Watercolor Live
A glimpse of Julie Gilbert Pollard’s “Values” demo and her palette

“As a painter who loves color,” said Julie Gilbert Pollard, “I typically push color beyond what I actually see to a brigher, more saturated version, or use completely different colors that aren’t actually present in the scene at all.” Julie’s demo was of her favorite subject: a landscape with interesting rocks and trees with a gently winding river.

Birgit OConnor - Watercolor Live
In “Basic Color,” Birgit O’Connor demonstrated how to create your own color chart

“One of the most common problems people have when they’re just starting out is creating muddy colors,” said Birgit O’Connor. She went on to explain how to get cleaner colors and better understand the color wheel, and the lightbulb moments you can have when you create your own color charts.

Susan Blackwood - Watercolor Live
Susan Blackwood’s tools for creating special effects. Image credit: Laura Vailati / Miami Niche

Susan Blackwood taught us all about special effects in watercolor, including using salt. This can create a variety results depending on what kind you use, how you use it, how wet your paper is, and even what kind of paper you’re using. The possibilities are endless, as she showed us in her many examples!

Richie Vios Watercolor Live
From “Composition” with Richie Vios

For Richie Vios, painting with watercolor “is a way of expressing and transmitting thoughts, feelings, and reactions.” He explained from beginning to end how to simplify your scene so you can create a wonderful piece of art.

Carol McSweeney Watercolor Live
A scene from Carol McSweeney’s portrait painting session

In her “Portrait Elements” demonstration, Carol McSweeney addressed how to make believable skin colors and eyes with watercolor.

“I sometimes think of eyes as miniature landscapes,” Carol said. “I have my students photograph friend’s or family’s eyes and really explore the shapes and colors that they see.”

Kathleen Alexander Watercolor Live
From Kathleen Alexander’s watercolor still life demonstration; Image credit: Laura Vailati / Miami Niche

Filming from Maui, Kathleen Alexander simplified a photo reference to demonstrate how to paint a single flower: one bud and a stem with a diffused background. To paint “shadow shapes,” she says to start with your soft shadows first, then apply the hard shadows second.

Poppy Balser Watercolor Live
In our last lesson of the day, Poppy Balser demonstrated how to paint a landscape with watercolor, step by step

Inspired by a landscape that stopped her in her tracks, Poppy Balser hit the brakes and took photo references for the watercolor that she presented to us today. Poppy walked us through each of the steps she took to tell the story she wanted to express.

Bonus tip from Poppy (delivered in the live chat!): “I do almost all my paintings with the flat brushes. I use rounds to deliver clean water in an area but rarely use them to paint (except fine round brushes for fine lines).”

Of course, we wrapped up the evening with the infamous Cocktail Hour / Paint Along, hosted this year by Sarah Webb, who welcomed attendees to share their works, their stories, and their love of watercolor.

There’s still time to join us for Watercolor Live! Register today at WatercolorLive.com and get access to all the replays you may have missed, and still learn from the world’s top watercolor artists!


  1. I thought The beginners Day was very informative and covered a variety of watercolor subjects. The Demo lectures were well filmed, clear and well paced. The one hour demonstrations are well timed, with a nice length in the two breakout rooms to make contact with other attendees.
    Its great to be back . I feel like Im getting a daily dose of watercolor vitamins . Cheers to the entire team who organized and stepped it up in Erics absence .

    • Hi, Barbara! It has been wonderful to have you there with us! Thank you for being a part of it, and for your feedback!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here