Practice Makes Perfect

Learning new techniques, and styles, really helps an artist to reach beyond limits they often put on themselves. A few weeks ago I was fortunate to attend a four day workshop with Alvaro Castagnet, a international award winning watercolor artist. His passion for art was contagious. The visions he saw for ordinary street scenes must come only by painting from the heart. He captures the feeling, the moment, the light, the soul of all he paints.

Drawing Cape May

His drawings were very loose using a soft B6 pencil.


Always beginning with colorful washes of paint, using a very large squirrel hair mop brush. Alvaro does have a line of brushes he sells. I purchased a few and have to say they have made a difference in the way I paint.


Finishing with white highlights and a bit of color.


Drawing of the kitchen at the Mad Batter restaurant. It was cold out so he decided to paint a interior for the demonstration.


Beginning washes, he left the white of the paper for highlights but he is not afraid of using opaque white on a finished piece.


The freedom he had in letting the paint create the structures and atmosphere was so amazing


Another demo of Cape May.

We painted ourselves after watching Alvaro demonstrate . We had a choice to use the same subject or find our own. I choose to follow Alvaro’s as it gave me the confidence to be free. I now had direction on how to handle the scene, and problems were already worked out. Never could I have been as loose and confident if I had not watched first.


A Paris train station as Alvaro saw it.


My painting of the same photo. I was somewhat pleased but remember Alvaro had already showed me the freedom of the brush and paint to capture the feeling of the station ceiling. I watched him choose colors, fade out the train, put in detail. But what a learning experience.

So I have now been practicing at home in my studio. I started with a image that I watched him paint, the kitchen. I never finished the painting but learned a little more.

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My version of Mad Batters Kitchen

So I then branched out and tried a painting from a reference photo I had. Now I had to solve the problems of the composition and colors myself. Much harder…


The photo of a New York tea room. (I love interior paintings)


My painting inspired by all I learned from Alvaro Castagnet.

I will continue to practice with the freedom of letting the paint do its thing but will bring my own style into it. Never stop learning, and paint from the heart.