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

GUEST ARTIST: “Compelled To Respond To An Inner Call” by Leyla Torres

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

My name is Leyla Torres. 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.


#Doodlewash - Watercolor Illustration by Leyla Torres of tiger lily - #WorldWatercolorGroup

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. 

#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 - #WorldWatercolorGroup

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.

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

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.

#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

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40 thoughts on “GUEST ARTIST: “Compelled To Respond To An Inner Call” by Leyla Torres

      1. 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.

  1. 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.

    1. 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!

  2. 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,

  3. 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.

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