GUEST DOODLEWASH: Compelled To Respond To An Inner Call

#Doodlewash - Watercolor Illustration by Leyla Torres of origami crane - #WorldWatercolorGroup

#Doodlewash - Watercolor Illustration by Leyla Torres of tubing - #WorldWatercolorGroupMy 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.

#Doodlewash - Watercolor Illustration by Leyla Torres of cat and butterfly - #WorldWatercolorGroup

Earlier in my career I wrote and illustrated several books for children, featured on my websiteThen, 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. 

#Doodlewash - Watercolor Illustration by Leyla Torres of tiger lily - #WorldWatercolorGroupMy 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. 

#Doodlewash - Watercolor Illustration by Leyla Torres of smoothies - #WorldWatercolorGroup

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. 

#Doodlewash - Watercolor Illustration by Leyla Torres of sardines - #WorldWatercolorGroupMy 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.

#Doodlewash - Watercolor Illustration by Leyla Torres of peach - #WorldWatercolorGroupMy 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.

#Doodlewash - Watercolor Illustration by Leyla Torres of hippo and bird - #WorldWatercolorGroup

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.

Leyla Torres

Recommended1 recommendationPublished in Featured Artists
  1. Arts & Rhymes 6 years ago

    So lovely! <3

    • Leyla Torres 6 years ago

      Thank you for your comment. I’m happy you liked it!

      • kimbones 5 years ago

        Love the origami and the hippo. Are you a children’s book illustrator? If not, you should consider! Or write stories for your artwork, very compelling and relevant. Environment, immigration, and respect for animal’s lives need attention and action; who better to harness the sentiment than children? Thanks for your beautiful artistic expression.

  2. Sharon Bonin-Pratt 6 years ago

    Leyla, your art brims with whimsy and beauty. The vibrant colors and charming subjects are a delight to the eye. I especially admire how you incorporate your love of origami with your love of painting.

    • Leyla Torres 6 years ago

      Thank you Sharon, for your warm words. I’m happy you enjoyed my work 🙂

  3. Jessica Seacrest 6 years ago

    Love your beautiful and sometimes whimsical work Leyla! Like Sharon said above me, the colors are wonderful!

    • Leyla Torres 6 years ago

      Thank you Jessica! It’s very encouraging to read such warm comment. I’m happy you like my work 🙂

  4. ramaink 6 years ago

    What beautiful artwork!! Immensely joyful! Thank you sharing it!!

    • Leyla Torres 6 years ago

      You are welcome and thank you so much for your warm comments and generous exclamation marks 😉

  5. Teri C 6 years ago

    Gorgeous paintings!

  6. Beautiful work! Good thing you were inspired to paint again because clearly you were meant to do it!

    • Leyla Torres 6 years ago

      Thank you Eileen,
      Sometimes life has lessons that have to be learned in different ways, but I am also very happy that the passion was reignited. Thank you for your kind words.

  7. Susan Feniak 6 years ago

    Oh I do like ever so much you whimsical style Leyla. In particular the cat and butterfly. But the hippo made me giggle. A follow on Instagram is in order. Thank you for sharing Leyla’s art Charlie.

    • Leyla Torres 6 years ago

      Thank you susan, for your kind comment. The kitty is our own Coco, who we love so much and, as in the painting, she has a spot in the shape of a heart.
      The hippo and oxpecker was made in response to a prompt “endangered animals”
      Here I share the text I posted in Instagram as well:
      • The hippopotamus is threatened by habitat loss and poaching for their meat and ivory canine teeth. The common hippopotamus is semiaquatic, inhabiting rivers, lakes and mangrove swamps. Hippos enjoy resting in cool water and can let themselves float or sink by controlling their breathing and body position. Once sunk, hippos don’t swim back up to the surface: they walk along the bottom till they reach shallow water.
      • Oxpecker (not endangered) is an African bird. Its name arises from their habit of perching on large mammals, such as hippopotamuses, to feed on ticks and even blood from the mammal’s open wounds!

  8. jupitermagic 6 years ago


  9. Laura (PA Pict) 6 years ago

    Wonderful art work! Thank you for sharing.

    • Leyla Torres 6 years ago

      Thank you Laura. It’s a real pleasure to be able to share here at Doodlewash too!

  10. jmnowak 6 years ago

    Such a delight, Leyla! You have put a smile on my face, thank you!

    • Leyla Torres 6 years ago

      You are very welcome. Im happy you like my work. Thank you for your comment!

  11. M. L. Kappa 6 years ago

    Hi Layla, I’ve been following you already, but it was really fun reading your story. I love your work, and I also love origami. I make it occasionally but have never thought of painting it!

    • Leyla Torres 6 years ago

      Thank you dear! I’m origami and painting are quite different in nature except that you can be creative and enjoy the process with each art. I appreciate your writing here!

  12. Linda Murray 6 years ago

    I’m speechless. Your artwork is so gorgeous! You have mastered so many different subjects. You are truly talented. Thank you 🙂

    • Leyla Torres 6 years ago

      Thank you Linda! I’m lucky to have been able to develop my gifts and most importantly to have the opportunity to share them and learn from other artists as well!

  13. grlie 6 years ago

    Beautiful! Thanks for having these guest posts! It’s so good to discover new artists to follow.

    • Leyla Torres 6 years ago

      Thank you! Yes, this website is a wonderful place to discover and share with new people. I’m having a great time discovering too!

  14. Jannie van Schuylenburg 6 years ago

    So beautiful, Leyla . I love it. A when do you give a class in Holland? 😊

    • Leyla Torres 6 years ago

      Thank you Jannie,
      I would love to give a class in Holland, a country so dear to my heart. For the moment I can be present there through my online classes. 😉

  15. Rosemary Browne 6 years ago

    My dear Leyla:
    It is sometimes, when the work is collective that you are truly blown away; such was the case when I saw just some of your beautiful work. I wish you success – which is the journey – and happiness while doing so.
    Always your friend,

    • Leyla Torres 6 years ago

      Dear Rosemary,
      Your kind words and generous spirit have been always a great encouragement and inspiration to keep at work. Thank you for your friendship!

  16. YesterdayAfter 6 years ago

    Beautiful work Leyla and very inspiring! Wish you lots of creative days! <3 🙂 Carolina

  17. Laurence 6 years ago

    Splendid paintings Leyla, I like your style ! And had your apple course for free, thanks a lot !!

    • Leyla Torres 6 years ago

      Thank you Laurence for your kind words and for taking the class. If you liked it, it will help me if you leave a positive short review or feedback in Skillshare 😉

  18. kimbones 5 years ago

    I am a former resident of White River Junction, VT. Great place to live, one of the few states that actually puts their money with their mouth is regarding social services and the environment.

  19. Sharon Nolfi 5 years ago

    I love that hippo!

  20. Crystal Eggleston 2 years ago

    Hello from Hebron, NY! I love your work. Thank you so much for sharing!

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