Watercolor Live, Changing Lives

Last year at this time, I was at Disney World with my family, enjoying a vacation like a “normal person,” and also absorbing the creativity all around me as an artistic being. You can probably relate – that’s why there’s a saying about “seeing like an artist.”

We take that inspiration from everywhere and apply it to everything we do.

Here at Streamline, we were preparing for the annual Plein Air Convention and Expo, where we bring together over 1,000 artists in person to learn from master artists from around the world. We watch countless jaw-dropping painting demonstrations, make new friends and laugh together, shop in the “candy store” of the expo hall, and so much more.

Of course, everything changed in the spring of 2020; I don’t need to recap that for you.

Like many businesses and individuals, our team had to pivot. In what now seems like a flash, our first virtual art conference was born: Plein Air Live. It was such a wild success that we followed it with Realism Live and then most recently, the groundbreaking Watercolor Live (read some of the testimonials below, and click here to see the highlights of Watercolor Live).

From Soon Y. Warren’s Still Life Demo
From Soon Y. Warren’s Still Life Demo
Watercolor Live 2021
Instagram post from @renee_ledford_pitts >
Ready to start! Can’t wait! What a wonderful experience!!

What’s a Virtual Art Conference Like?

In short, they’re both educational and fun. At Watercolor Live, we watched some of the world’s masters in watercolor lead in-depth painting lessons on a variety of subjects. They explained their choice of colors and papers, brushes and brushstrokes, and it felt as though they were speaking directly to us. 

Actually, they were. Streaming next to the painting video was a live chat, streaming with comments and questions that the faculty were present to answer.

In between painting demonstrations, many of us hopped into a Zoom call that was divided into smaller breakout sessions, where we had the opportunity to network on a more personal level until it was time to watch the next inspiring session.

We even had special appearances from the very people who are making the art supplies we use! Jeff Olson and Wennie Huang of Royal Talens, Pierre Guidetti of Savoir Faire, Joe Miller of Cheap Joe’s, and Linda Nelson of Ancient Earth Pigments all led behind-the-scenes presentations on what goes into your paints, paper, and more.

Watercolor painting critiques
Our online art conferences typically include a critique session with paintings submitted by attendees. Here, Antonio Masi gave feedback on a watercolor landscape.

The Benefits Are Endless

There are obvious reasons that so many artists joined us for Watercolor Live. Learning from the likes of Thomas W. Schaller, Joseph Zbukvic, Suzie Baker, Dean Mitchell, Birgit O’Connor, and so many more all in one place, is almost a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. (I say almost because our team is already planning Watercolor Live 2022!)

What moved me as an individual, was hearing from all of the artists who are unable to join us at PACE because of the travel expenses, or because of their living conditions; we heard from one artist who shared how much she appreciated Watercolor Live because she’s in a wheelchair, and travel is difficult. Knowing that we’re bringing art to more people through these virtual events inspires our entire team.

Even after the event, attendees can access the replays in case they missed it the first time, or want to re-watch a session to better absorb the techniques. There’s even a private Facebook group where everyone can continue to network with our new friends.

Watercolor Live portrait painting
Instagram post from @@sherryhoupt > My “paint along” portrait, created while watching the Master Artist, Stephen Zhang demonstrate his methodical, yet loose approach to painting a watercolor portrait.

Something For Everyone

At Watercolor Live, we enjoyed both studio and plein air sessions. Highlights included a tour of Zbukvic’s art studio, and a reminder that it’s important to surround yourself with beautiful things that are meaningful to you.

Painting en plein air, Pablo Rubén set up next to a waterway called Duck Park. In the chat, we discussed everything from his composition and painting techniques to the adorable “duck houses” in the background (Interestly, neither the ducks nor the duck houses made it into the composition, teaching us that it’s okay to leave some things out).

Kelly Kane, Editor-in-Chief of Plein Air Magazine and American Watercolor Weekly, led a fascinating roundtable discussion with representatives from AWS, NWS, TWSA, and FWS. Denise Willing Booher, Sheryl Fletcher Coon, Terry Denson, and Antonio Masi shared their thoughts on the hot topics watercolorists face today.

New for Watercolor Live, there was even an ongoing auction of faculty paintings. The auction was only available to attendees.

Birgit O'Connor's color charts
On Beginner’s Day, Birgit O’Connor explained many of the basics for using watercolor, including the importance of color charts

What’s Next?

Because our online art conferences are so well-received, we want to bring you more. Even during Watercolor Live, our tech team was listening to suggestions and making tweaks behind the scenes to continue to make it an awesome experience for the next time around, when we host Plein Air Live, April 15-17, 2021, with a Beginner’s Day on April 14. Rest assured, we’re already planning the 2nd Annual Watercolor Live for 2022, so if you missed it this year, register now for the lowest price.

We hope you’ll join us there. Time and again, we hear about how it’s a life changing experience. At the end of the day, everyone has learned something new that they can apply to their painting styles, including how to mix colors, how to see values, how to work with the medium, and so much more. When you listen to a master artist think out loud while painting, you come away both educated and inspired.

Watercolor Live 2021
An Instagram post from @flagggallery
Set up for #watercolorlive Full immersion into this great event! #ericrhoads amazing artists!!!

Here’s what others have had to say:


“Worth every penny I paid and more! I almost didn’t sign up, but so happy I did! So much inspiration and support. Everyone is lifting each other up. Just the amount of positivity we all need right now! Thank you Eric, crew, and Faculty!” – Michelle Montes Conboy

“Beyond my expectations. Learning from the best artists in the medium. Each day is packed with great sessions for artists of all skill levels.” – Beth Ullmann

“Loved it all! Jean’s portrait demo with the glazing and glazing and glazing stood out for me yesterday. I don’t do portraits but I can now see how slowing down and layering like she did could be applied to other subjects. I can’t wait to try this technique.” – Kathleen Gallup

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

“After watching the demos so far I am seeing paintings with a greater ability to deconstruct. It’s AMAZING.” – Leslie Hamilton

Click here to learn more about our next virtual art conference, Plein Air Live!

Plein Air Live