The Process of Drawing Tile Patterns

Recently I started adding color to my drawing of a Portuguese tile pattern that I saw at the National Tile Museum in Lisbon, Portugal last summer (although I wrote Porto in my sketchbook). I love the way one block pattern can be complicated enough that it takes 16 tiles to show it!

These are some pictures taken during its progress to being currently somewhat painted. I typically work on my projects about 30 minutes at a time. For these tiles, I start with a pencil and ruler and mark out on my sketchbook page where I’m going to place them. I like to draw a solo tile, then in a group of four, and then, here, in a group of sixteen to show the additional pattern that is made. I find the center lines and diagonals in each square and then start sketching out the pattern. Sometimes I will draw the whole pattern first then ink it, but here the design was complicated enough and my hand would rub off the graphite, I inked some parts before I did more pencil. Once the whole page was inked, I scanned it so I have it available for the future - I was thinking of a coloring book of Portuguese tiles. Then, I added color to match the tiles I had photographed.

It’s a time consuming but very satisfying process. I will continue to add blue watercolor to the rest of the drawing but I rather like partially complete painting too. I will scan that before I continue. Which do you like better - partially painted or fully painted?

My latest pet - and person - portrait

Finn and Nancy 2019-04-16 72dpi.jpg

Here is my latest pet portrait. This is of Finn and Nancy, his person. I love drawing different breeds of dogs because they are so unique. I really enjoyed this picture of Finn and Nancy because having them together really showed off just how large Irish Wolfhounds can get. Also, the two of them were clearly happy and content together.

Please contact me if you’re interested in me doing an ink and watercolor pet portrait commission for you. I work from your photos. Check the link for more information or email me at

Color and Value

I’ve been taking an Illustration 101 course recently offered by Tara Larsen Chang at Cloud 9 Art School. It’s been fascinating and it’s been fun to geek out with the latest topic of color.

One of the recent exercises was to make a color wheel with primaries (Red, Yellow, and Blue), Secondaries (Orange, Green, and Purple) and Tertiaries (the colors between the Primaries and Secondaries). But part of making a strong picture is choosing the right values. As long as the values work, it doesn’t matter what the colors are.

Above, the right picture is just making a black and white version of my color chart on the left. What’s fascinating is seeing how similar in value some colors are (the yellow green and the yellow-orange as well as the blue, red (rose), and red purple). It is very hard to look at colored things and assess their comparative value. With enough practice it can be learned though and getting a start on that is part of my next six-month plan!

Artichokes Galore!


Here is a drawing I recently finished up of some artichokes I took a picture of at Russo’s, wonderful market in Watertown, MA. I do a lot of my drawings using reference pictures, and after I started sketching, I take my photographs differently so that I can sketch from them later. I love going to markets and seeing all the displays of produce piled up. I often go to a local Indian and Asian markets just to admire their fruit and vegetable displays. I sometimes will also come home with unusual things, for me, both to draw and to try to eat or cook - dragon fruit, bitter melon and drumstick beans have been some of my experiments.

Students' Work!

I have been teaching a six-week travel journaling in ink and watercolor workshop recently but there’s been two weeks off unexpectedly because of lots and lots of snow which is not the usual for this area. Roads are finally clear and the weather more mild so we were able to meet up again. It’s nice to be able to get back to the regular routine again! Here are some examples of what my students are working on. It is so interesting seeing what people come up with.

Sea Monsters and Maps!


Drawing Maps

and Sea Monsters!

Sea monsters aren’t part of every map, but they’re a lot of fun to play with! See if you can add one or more to your maps with me in my drawing and sketching map workshop starting March 6th at Cloud 9 in Bothell, WA. This 6-week workshop will explore different types of illustrative and figurative maps that we can draw. Traditional map elements will be addressed as well as making the maps personal and informative. One of the projects will be to draw a place that you know well and are connected to. Illustrating a map tells a story of a place that’s important to you. It’s a thing of beauty but also conveys useful information. I will be using a sketchbook with ink and watercolor but you can use the materials you are comfortable with. Considerations of map design will be addressed and discussed throughout the workshop with plenty of examples of illustrated maps.

All skill levels welcome.

When: Wednesdays, 10:00 am - 12:30 pm March 6th - April 10th, 2019 (6 weeks)
Where: Cloud 9 Art School, 18414 103 Ave NE, Bothell, WA 98011
Contact: for more information and to register.

A Glimpse into One of My Travel Journals...


I am currently teaching a 6-week Travel Journal with Ink and Watercolor workshop. My students for this workshop are so interesting. They jumped in feet first with designing their pages and choosing what images to use together to describe a day. With composition out of the way, I can help with how to draw some of the images they’ve chosen and cover some watercolor basics. Even though I like to use ink and watercolor for my sketchbooks, making a travel journal is telling a personal story. If the artist is more comfortable using watercolor pencils, or pencils or colored markers, that’s fine with me. I just want them to try in some areas watercolor to see what it’s like and its possibilities. I will post student pictures soon!

My image is from a picture I took of the staircase in my parent's house where I grew up. I’m lucky that they are still living there so I can both visit them and it. I love the perspective looking down two flights of stairs and the changing perspective of all the balusters. While I don’t always get much work on my sketchbook done in class, I like to work on it as homework between classes too. I like to do what I ask of my students.

My next workshops at Cloud 9 Art School in Bothell will be on Drawing and Sketching Maps, and another on Drawing and Illustrating Recipes.

Happy 2019!

Happy 2019! I hope it brings you new adventures and experiences that you find interesting and make you grow. 2018 marked the first complete year of having my own business, Anya Toomre Art & Illustration. I’ve learned a lot about what works and doesn’t work for me. It’s a continual process and there will likely never be a “done” state. What remains true is that this is a lifetime business. It’s only more public than I’ve done before. I like the people I’ve been meeting with this change. Another big addition this year was expanding my product range to include textile art. I’ve opened up an etsy shop, AnyaToomreStudios where I have been adding my fabric and art-quilt coasters. Esty is an easier site to have lots of hand-made items than I know how to do on this site right now.

One of the long-term goals I have with my business is to give back. So at the end of December 2018, I tallied up my sales and was able to donate a percentage of total sales to the following three organizations:

From my pet portraits, I give to the Seattle Humane Society. I love cats and dogs and all three of my cats were adopted from the Seattle Humane Society.

From my card and print sales, I chose to give to the Hispanic Federation in support of rebuilding Puerto Rico. I was in Cuba in 2017 during Hurricane Irma. I had never been in a hurricane before, nor on an island with such high waters. There was a lot of damage and disruption in Cuba but it only got battered by the edges of the storm. Hurricane Maria landed in Puerto Rico shortly thereafter and it was a full force hit on the island which was devastated. I can’t imagine the chaos and destruction. I was only 700 hundred miles on a more lightly hit island 2 weeks earlier.

With adding my quilted textiles to my line of available products, I wanted to do something in support of women and kids and home, so I chose to give a percentage of my textile sales to Mary’s Place in Seattle.

Thank you to everyone who supported me last year and helped me to contribute to these three organizations that are doing good work in their areas. Hopefully next year I’ll be able to give more. All the best for the new year!