My name is Leyla Torres (follow me on Instagram and visit my website!). I’ve painted since I was six years old when my mother gave me an easel and a set of paints and invited me to paint something. I remember making a row of tall cypress trees. After finishing high school in Bogotá, Colombia, I went on to enroll in a college program in art and education and I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1982. I taught art at a high school for three years in Bogotá, and then moved to New York City where I attended The Art Students League for four years.
After living in Brooklyn, New York for over a decade, I moved to Arlington, a lovely and quiet town in southern Vermont, where I share my life with my husband, John Sutton, whose photographs keep on inspiring me, and Coco, our sweet female cat.
Earlier in my career I wrote and illustrated several books for children, featured on my website. Then, for some years I have focused on Origami, the art of paper folding, as my creative and teaching practice. My passion is living a creative life and being open to the experience of learning in different ways.
A few months ago, as I looked at the delightful illustrations and watercolor work of many talented artists on Instagram, I felt newly inspired to paint again. So, I dusted off my watercolor paint tubes, brushes, and started out.
My intention was just to enjoy short periods of daily painting and to explore ideas and projects that would challenge my skills and take me to new creative lands. Before long, I was immersed again in illustration projects, participating in art challenges through Instagram, and becoming part of a wonderful community of visual artists and illustrators.
I love painting animals, flowers, food, landscapes and subjects that reflect my daily life.
For watercolor painting, I use basic tools: paint tubes in the studio, and pans when traveling or painting outdoors. The brands I use are Winsor & Newton, and recently I started using Mission Gold Watercolors as well.
My preferred brushes are round natural sable brushes of different sizes, but I have found Princeton Artist Brush Co. synthetic brushes to work very well too. The paper I use the most is Cold press, 140lb, Arches paper.
When painting larger pieces (10 x 10 inches and up) I stretch the paper by wetting it on both sides and stapling it onto a plywood board, which has been previously wrapped in plastic.
I use transparent watercolors, leaving the white of the paper as the lightest tone. I usually leave dry spots where the highlights will be, and only occasionally do I use masking fluid. Very seldom, I use opaque white as a highlighter.
My process of painting involves working with several layers, applying colors from light to dark. The first layer is usually a flat wash of very light color applied on a wet surface. This layer captures the essential volume of the object I’m painting. I let it dry and apply successive layers of graded washes that will add details and accentuate shading with areas of saturated colors. Each layer usually has to be dried before I apply the next.
At the present, in addition to making origami video tutorials, I have started to develop instructional watercolor classes, featured on Skillshare –Visit my website for a free link to my first watercolor class.
Sharing what I know, being connected to other creative people, exchanging ideas, encouraging each other to add beauty and love to our world is what inspires and motivates my work.
I believe that artistic creativity and the ability to play are skills that help us live fuller lives and become better human beings. When we improve ourselves, we are better equipped to help improve the world around us.