Anya Toomre is a foodie, but not in the snap-a-photo-of-your-dinner kind of way.
She’s a sketchbook artist who loves to draw food with pencil, pen, watercolor and inks. She once filled a sketchbook with sketches of tacos for The Sketchbook Project, a permanent collection at the Brooklyn Art Library.
“The nice thing about drawing food is that every apple and every orange is going to be different from every other one,” she said. “There’s a lot of ins and outs and misshaped things. For me, there’s a lot less pressure drawing food. You can just have fun.”
Toomre, 55, is an instructor at Cloud 9 Art School in Bothell. Her workshop, “Playing with Your Food in a Sketchbook,” will be held Wednesday evenings from Jan. 8 to Feb. 12. The workshop will cover different ways to draw food with ink and watercolor.
Toomre said drawing in sketchbooks isn’t hard. Her sketches are often rough outlines of shapes, lines, curves and colors that make up a place, person or a thing.
If you’re new to sketching and watercolors, the key word you’re looking for is “rough.” You need to let go of high expectations and focus on silencing your inner critics.
“It’s nice to have technique and skills, but really, you should be enjoying it,” Toomre said. “Then you’ll want to do more and more.”
Sketchbooks give artists far less to angst about.
“It’s just a piece of paper,” she said. “If what you’re doing is not so great, you can just turn the page and start over.”
Toomre’s sketches typically start with pen or pencil. Then, after she’s drawn her subject, she fills in the shapes with watercolors and waterproof inks, as if it were a page in a coloring book.
The colors themselves don’t even need to be all that complex.
“Watercolor is an art media that can be quite daunting,” she said. “There’s a whole beautiful range that people do. But on the beginner side, if you have a couple reds, blues, yellows and greens, you don’t have to mix them. You can start there, and with time, you’re watercolor skills can improve and branch out.”
Toomre treats her sketchbooks — she has more than 35 of them — as if they were visual journals. Unlike canvases, which are handled meticulously by painters, her sketchbooks are far less rigid.
One recent work is made up of tiny blotches of yellow, green, red and orange. A line points to a handwritten description that reads “Pico de gallo — chopped tomatoes, onions, cilantro.”
Toomre, who has been teaching the workshop two years, said one of the most enjoyable things about drawing food is that it invites you to revel in the past. She often asks her students to record how certain foods make them feel, including favorite dishes from their childhoods.
“A drawing has more meaning if it brings back memories from childhood,” she said. “That’s part of what makes it more interesting and rich. You have these connections because food is often eaten with other people.”
Evan Thompson: 425-339-3427, firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @ByEvanThompson.
If you go
The “Playing with Your Food in a Sketchbook” workshop is scheduled for 6:15 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. Wednesdays from Jan. 8 to Feb. 12 at Cloud 9 Art School, 18414 103rd Ave. NE, Bothell. The six-week course costs $200. Deadline to register is Jan. 7. Go to www.anyatoomre.com/workshops for more information.