Go to homepage

Sunflowers by Leslie Watkins

Student Testimonials

"Just wanted to report how much I enjoyed the seminar at Ward's Nursery. Most appreciated was the basic beginning advice on how best to set up your work area and how to proceed on thumbnail sketches. Your demonstration was perfect in getting everyone going in the right direction. This launched the whole group with a positive outlook and confidence as they dove right in. Hints and in-depth advice on watercolor in general as well as individual critiques were right on target and extremely helpful. Passing on sage advice from past experience, outstanding teachers, and observance added another whole volume of useful information. Anecdotes and remembrances were not only interesting and fun, but were part of the learning experience. I found it tremendously enriching and well worthwhile." ~ KL

"Recently I was lucky enough to attend a watercolor class taught by Leslie Watkins in the Ward's Nursery tropical greenhouse. Leslie greeted us with serenity and beauty and urged us to prowl the aisles of the greenhouse looking for a beautiful plant to use for our studies. Four hours later, I realized that Leslie sees through different eyes than I but that she is willing to patiently convey to each of us how to overcome our hesitancy and experiment. What became clear is that Leslie is not only a magnificent artist herself, but she also listens and interacts with each of us individually to seek our own expression. I look forward to the next opportunity to learn from Leslie." ~ MO'M

" I enjoyed Leslie's workshop. Her knowledge, skill, energy and patience was passed on to each of us in the class. I particularly enjoyed seeing her sketch books and the little sepia thumbnail paintings that she creates in watercolor. Leslie encouraged us to paint in our own travel journeys and to sketch everyday. She took time to help us individually and wanted us to each go home with a painting that we would enjoy. A great workshop, recommended to all. "  ~ CR

"... I've always struggled with details and, ... with painting from photographs. Somehow or other, Leslie managed to get through to me and for the first time since I've taken a workshop I went home feeling not only feeling happy with the piece I painted in the workshop, but, more importantly, with a new understanding of how to simply and freely capture light and color with a paintbrush rather than the camera.
Thank you, thank you!"  ~ MO'C

"For the record, Leslie Watkins is an excellent teacher, a fine artist and a lovely human being. If you can possible schedule more workshops with her, I would register in a New York Minute.
She was able to work with students at a variety of levels, using their materials, sketches, ideas, etc. For me, it was bringing a great deal of information out of long term storage in my brain and applying it to a work in progress... I hadn't painted in over 3 years.So do bring her back!"  ~ PW

"Last June I began taking watercolor classes from Leslie Watkins, and from the first class I have been awakened to a whole new world. I find peace and tranquility as I put pencil to paper and paint to canvas, creating as I have never been accustomed to before in my seventieth decade. Thank you, Leslie, for this opportunity!"  ~ FJCP

"I took a class with Leslie at the Berkshire Botanical Garden this July. It was an amazing class. I learned more about color, gradations,and composition in four weeks with Leslie than I ever knew before. It was a pleasure talking to Leslie and getting to know her. She is an amazing watercolorist sensitive to all that surrounds her. I do not know if I will ever look at a landscape in the same way again." ~ CZ

"I signed up for Leslie's watercolor classes reluctantly since I was sure this medium would be extremely difficult for me. It was, but Leslie's teaching ability and her constant encouragement were both so great that I continued to attend classes through the entire winter and learned an amazing amount."



homage to frank

Classes & Workshops

Leslie Watkins is available for art instruction and papercrafting workshops at your art association, community center, school, or home event. Beginners to advanced, demonstrations, talks, and individual instruction.

Introduction to watercolor insects

SVA Annex, 214 E. 21st Street (betwen 2nd/3rd Ave.), Room 703A

Saturday, March 9, 2019 10am - 4pm, $80 members/$100 non-members. Level of difficulty: Beginner and all a levels

Ancient manuscripts are filled with beautiful examples of floral decorations often accompanied by butterflies, dragonflies and other insects. This workshop will present examples of decorative art from the 16th century Mira Calligraphiae Monumenta which combines calligraphy with natural imagery. Students will gain an appreciation of the methods of illumination and have fun while doing so. Instruction in the basics of insect anatomy and how to begin painting a butterfly in watercolor will be given. Students will learn simple methods of transferring and combining designs to calligraphic layouts. Students may bring a calligraphy project to decorate.

Papercrafting & Watercolor

October 20 and November 17, 2018, 10:00am - 1:00pm at the Scoville Memorial Library, Salisbury, CT

In this two session workshop you will gain a thorough understanding of the tools, methods and uses for the art of papercrafting. Join artist Leslie Watkins as she demonstrates skills and techniques used to make beautiful, creative gifts for the holidays and every day. $20. materials fee per class.

•Session 1, October 20th: Introduction to Papercrafting

Using a variety of simple tools and skills you will learn how to create professional looking notecards, gift boxes and tags that you will be proud to give or keep for yourself. All tools and materials are supplied with plenty of hands on instruction and helpful demonstrations.

•Session 2, November 17th: Introduction to Watercolor

Building on skills learned in the papercrafting workshop you will learn to paint in watercolor to decorate Christmas cards and ornaments, easy projects that anyone can do with all materials supplied. These workshops are appropriate for everyone, beginners and accomplished artists alike. You will leave inspired with new skills and plenty of ideas!


Parrot Tulips, watercolor by Leslie Watkins, ©2016

Monthly papercrafting and watercolor Classes

Learn basic stamping and watercolor techniques and how to use simple tools like trimmers, scoreboards, heat guns, and the "Big Shot" die cutter and embosser. All materials provided.


Watercolor Workshops and Ongoing Classes, On Location in Norfolk, CT (classes indoors in rainy or snowy weather)

WaterWorks offers instruction in nature based watercolor painting ~ landscape painting, botanical illustration and traditional watercolor techniques. Classes are open to all, for beginners through advanced students.

WaterWorks features an array of monthly watercolor classes every weekend throughout the year. In adition to traditional watercolor painting lessons, sessions will follow seasonal themes beginning with an introduction to landscape watercolors and progressing outdoors to plein air painting, with nature and garden journal making in midsummer. See below for class schedule. Bring any watercolor or sketching supplies you already have. Basic art supplies are available for purchase in class. Credit cards accepted.

WaterWorks coupon booklets are available for students who can not attend consecutive classes. Click here for more information about the coupons

E-mail: lesliewatkins@lesliewatkins.com • (860) 542-3920


JUNE: Painting in the Garden

Enjoy the pleasures of painting in gardens surrounded by colorful flowers and entertained by the birds and the bees! Start keeping a garden journal to record what you've planted and when, what does well (or not) and notes for the future. Paint simple sketches for garden designs and color schemes. Garden journals can be very beautiful and valuable reference tools.

JUNE: Landscape in Watercolor

Get equipped and organized to go outside and paint in watercolor. Learn how to paint harmonious impressions from nature. Discussion of materials and techniques, helpful critiques and individual instruction will be given. Beginners through advanced. Bring your lunch.
Day 1 - Tools: Your set-up, materials, and process. Value, color mixing, form and atmospheric perspective will be defined and demonstrated.
Day 2 - Seeing: Understanding what you see and how to paint it. Identifying your goals. Quick sketching.
Day 3 and 4 - Thinking: Composing the elements and emphasizing the focal point. Capturing what is essential. Pulling it all together.

JULY & AUGUST: Nature Journaling

Flowers, insects, birds, animals and natural objects are depicted along with personal thoughts, poems and notes. Participants learn how to make a simple folded sketch book, with instruction in basic art techniques using pencil, pen and ink, and watercolors. Recommendations for easy to carry tools and supplies (more info below).

SEPTEMBER: Intro to Papercrafting and Book Arts

Make a simple folded or stitched watercolor journal with your favorite paper. We will look at various bindings, adding hard covers and making simple portfolios to protect your artwork. Journals may be embellished with paint, cloth and decorations. The early development of manuscripts using Carolingian calligraphy, decorative borders, marginalia and gilding will be discussed.

OCTOBER: Decorative Borders

Borders featuring flowers, birds, and insects have been used to decorate Persian miniatures, medieval manuscripts, fine china, textiles and more.
Demonstrations of design building and transferring, underpainting, and
development of the design in both watercolor and gouache, with touches of gold. Intermediate through advanced, some basic watercolor ability.

October: Book Arts II

Adding thoughts, quotes, poems, even lists and dates can provide design opportunities for our watercolor journals. In addiotion to watercolor, we will practice basic Carolingian calligraphy, explore various page layout designs, and experiment with different writing tools and mediums. A simple calligrapher's materials list will be sent upon registration.

November: Stamping and Papercrafting Holiday Gifts

A more informal class, open to everyone. Have fun making unique holiday cards, gift tags, boxes, ornaments, and sparkly personal gifts for the special people in our lives and to decorate our homes. Materials provided.

Leslie Watkins is available for art instruction and workshops at your art association, community center, school, or event.


Class Descriptions

Keeping a Nature Journal

Use your visual and literary skills to create a record of the natural world. Botanical watercolor artist, plein air landscape painter, and garden writer Leslie Watkins demonstrates making and keeping a personal nature journal. Flowers, insects, birds, animals and natural objects are depicted along with personal thoughts, poems and notes. Participants learn how to make a handmade sketch book, with instruction in basic art techniques using pencil, pen and ink, and watercolors. Recommendations are made for easy to carry tools and supplies.


Botanical Painting in Watercolor

Paphiopedilum maudiae

Join Leslie Watkins in a series of botanical watercolor classes. Paint from an array of beautiful fresh flowers and plants. In four, two hour classes, you will learn how to begin to paint a natural subject in watercolor, and to "see" with an artist's eye.

Students at all levels, including beginners will enjoy this relaxed and information filled class. More experienced painters will hone their craft and receive constructive criticism. Demonstrations and plenty of individual instruction will be given. Bring any watercolor supplies you may have on hand, additional materials will be available for purchase.

Botanical Watercolor Painting: Available as a Three Day Workshop
Get prepared to begin a wonderful season of painting flowers in watercolor. Working from live specimens students will learn how to create a botanical watercolor from start to finish. Discussion of materials and techniques, helpful critiques and individual instruction will be given. Beginners through advanced. Bring your lunch.
Day 1 - Getting Started: Learn basic botany for artists and tips on selecting specimens. Value, color mixing, creating form and design will be practiced and demonstrated. Prepare your sketch.
Day 2 - Process: Create a dynamic composition with movement and energy. Transfer your drawing and begin the underpainting. Various watercolor techniques will be demonstrated.
Day 3 - Finishing: How to apply transparent glazes. Emphasize the focal point of your painting to capture the viewer’s attention. When is a painting finished?


Keeping a Nature Journal

Leslie Watkins Painting in NatiureLeslie Watkins Painting in Nature, photo by Bruce Frisch, ©2014

If you love nature and artistic creativity, nature journaling is the way to spend time in the natural world, using your visual and literary skills. Botanical and landscape artist Leslie Watkins leads inspiring art workshops throughout Northwest Connecticut and the Berkshires on creating and keeping your own personal nature journal. Each journal is as unique as the individual creating it. Close observations of flowers, insects, birds and natural objects are depicted along with personal thoughts, poems and notes. Participants learn basic art techniques using pencil, pen and ink, and watercolor. Recommendations for easy to carry tools and supplies are given, and inspiration to create your own very special art piece. Students meet in gardens, nature preserves and local points of interest. Nature lovers of all ages are welcome, from seasoned painters to budding artists.


Winter Journaling

Connect with Nature
... and your inner self. Learn observational, writing and artistic techniques for keeping a nature inspired journal.

Start your year off with keeping a journal. In this workshop, we will explore the art of nature journaling, trying out techniques in observation, drawing and writing to make this an enjoyable life-long experience. Weather permitting, we will explore outdoors for inspiration. All levels of artists and writers are welcome.


NWCT-Berkshire Plein Air Painting

All artists in the area are invited to join us for paint outs and exhibition opportunities! Lessons available. Email Leslie for more information. Read the article "Norfolk Plein Air Painter Reaches Out to Form Group" from Litchfield County Times


Join Leslie and friends painting on location in scenic Norfolk and nearby destinations in the Litchfield Hills and the Berkshires. Meet informally throughout the year to sketch and paint in the medium of your choice. Waterfalls, covered bridges, mountain vistas, farms and gardens will be visited. Whether you are a serious painter, student, or someone who wants to have fun with outdoor painting, this is a an excellent opportunity to learn and share the experience with others. For students and beginners wanting to improve their technique Leslie will provide instruction. For those who want to get some skills under their belt prior to attending with the group private or semi-private lessons may be scheduled by the day and month. Call (860) 542-3920 or click to email for times and places. Beginners are welcome ~ join us!

Harkness Memorial Park

Plein Air Landscape Painting at Historic Harkness Memorial Park


Plein Air Painting in Watercolor

Hatstack Mountain

Whether you are a serious painter, student, or someone who wants to have fun with outdoor painting, this is a an excellent opportunity to learn and share the experience with others. For beginners and seasoned painters. Read the article "Norfolk Plein Air Painter Reaches Out to Form Group" from Litchfield County Times, Email Leslie for more information.


Still Life Oil Painting

Lady Slipper

Learn techniques of traditional oil painting. Elements of painting such as composition, light and shade, depicting form, creating depth, and atmospheric perspective will be taught. Students may bring flowers, fruit, vases, and other objects to paint from. Bring whatever art materials you already have.


The Prismatic Palette Demystified:
Set Up, Mixing, and Theory


Beginners to Advanced, Individual Instruction

There will be a special two day workshop and painting demonstration on the use of the Prismatic Palette. The first day will introduce the concept, how to get set up, how to mix the colors, and how to use the palette in plein air. The second day we will meet outside and paint. There will be plenty of individual instruction, followed by a critique back inside. Class size will be limited to 10. Beginners through advanced. Call 860-542-3920 to register and for more information.

Leslie Watkins is an artist descendant of the Old Lyme Art Colony, considered the bedrock of American Impressionist landscape painting, represented by luminaries such as Child Hassam, William Metcalf and Frank Vincent DuMond. At the Art Students League of New York, DuMond taught Georgia O’Keeffe, John Marin, Norman Rockwell, and Frank Mason. After DuMond’s death, Mason taught at the League, where Watkins studied with him for 10 years. There she learned the coveted secrets of the Old Masters using the prismatic palette originally developed by DuMond. The palette is an invaluable tool to create accurate tonal relationships, and to enhance "alla prima" painting (wet on wet). In this two day workshop students will be shown the set up, mixing and introduction to the theory of it's use in plein air painting. Click for The Prismatic Palette, Art Times

Watercolor Painting


Learn techniques of traditional watercolor as used by the masters.
Develop your skills and add to your portfolio as you paint. This class will provide the student with the confidence and ability to maintain a personal record of the natural world, with the intent to use it as a foundation to create works of art. Elements of painting such as drawing, the movement of light, mass conceptions, depicting form, creating depth, and atmospheric perspective will be taught. Traditional English watercolor techniques will be demonstrated, as used by J.M.W. Turner, Beatrix Potter, Albrecht Dürer, and Pierre Joseph Redouté. Students may bring flowers, fruit, shells and other natural objects to draw from.

Watercolor Painting step-by-step

The Final Painting in the Step-by-Step Guide, Gallus Gallus et MalusWatch a watercolor painting come to life with this step-by-step guide. Learn about creating sketches, washes, underpaintings, adding color, and more. See it in on Leslie's Dandelion Cottage Blog.

For more information contact:

Leslie Watkins ~ Dandelion Cottage
PO Box 584
Norfolk, CT 06058
Studio: (860) 542-3920
E-Mail: lesliewatkins@lesliewatkins.com


All images and text on this website are copyrighted © by Leslie Watkins. All rights reserved.
For authorization to reproduce any of the images or text, please contact the artist.