With his humble beginnings as a shepherd and muleteer, Fernando Castillo is an example of how the Open Air School of Painting of free painting helped toward the artistic and aesthetic education of social groups traditionally cut off from art. He perhaps inherited his gift for wood carving and engraving from his father, a stonecutter, and enhanced this with painting and drawing. In 1928 he took part courses in the peeple's art center directed by the painter Gabriel Fernández Ledesma in the San Pablo district of Mexico City. Although his work reached the Mexican Pavilion in Seville, where he was awarded a silver medal, he had a very hard life, working as a shoeshiner, cobbler, "body carrier" in a hospital and underling for a Ministry of Education art gallery. He died of tuberculosis seven years after the San Antonio Abad Popular Center closed in 1933. Only a handful of his works survive, carefully guarded by private collectors.