Hello Fellow Cookie Lovers,
This blog posting will be all about painting on cookies. Now, in all fairness, I literally JUST STARTED to paint on cookies about two months ago so I am not an expert. However, I do have an art background and have painted throughout the last 40 years of my life. Painting on cookies is similar, and…different, at the same time. So with that disclaimer in place, I’ll share with you what I can and hopefully it inspires you to JUST TRY it. Number one, it’s fun. Number two, it’s a cookie; what do you have to lose? Some dough, some icing? So, start with small cookies. And if you want to see some real expert cookie painters, check out these Facebook pages of some of my all time favorite talented Cookiers/Painters/Artists (Mézesmanna, The Cookie Lab – Bolachas Decoradas Artesanais) – you will not be disappointed! I promise!
Some of you have asked me specifically what my process is for the “Folk Art” collection I’ve presented on this blog and on my FaceBook account. The pictures below are the five cookies I’ve done to date – the newest being “Confetti Flower.”
I’ll be using “Confetti Flower” to demonstrate this process. Keep in mind that all of these cookies are large in size; I have found it has enabled me to be more creative while at the same time practicing a variety of designs all on one cookie. For you, working on a smaller cookie might work better so try what feels right to you.
CUTTING THE DOUGH
Okay, so, I rolled out the dough! I then placed the dough onto my Silpat-lined baking sheet before cutting the design out. I find this keeps the shape intact better than cutting it and then transferring it onto the sheet. When you see the cutter in the photos below, you might be wondering where I obtained such a large cutter. It is one of the “Pancake Molds” I wrote about in my last blog. I’m always on the lookout for new ones!!
At this stage, I knew I wanted to do something with the middle so I took a smaller cookie cutter and decided to stamp the design into the dough so I could save myself time when outlining my initial shapes.
This is what the cookie looked like prior to baking…and then after baking.
OUTLINING THE SECTIONS OF THE COOKIE
At this point in the process, I start having some idea of how I want to break the cookie up into sections. I start with a general outlining of the larger shapes. I wanted smaller circles in the middle of the flower so I used a food writer to draw those in. I added leaves and then simply outlined the rest of the cookie into shapes I knew I could easily work with from a design standpoint. You will notice in the last picture I drew in some additional circles using the food writer but after outlining the petals decided not to include those in the overall design of the flower. This really is an organic process that reveals itself to you as you work with the cookie. Just go with the flow!
When I tell you I never really know what I am going to do at this time…well, it’s true. I have a general sense of the colors I want to use but not the actual details I will eventually paint. I say, just go with your gut on the colors and the rest really does fall into place. I decided on yellow, pink, green, and purple for this flower. Some painters flood their entire cookie sections in white and work from there. I’ve done this, however, typically, I like to flood a couple of colors to help me along with the design process and save some time during the painting stage. I started with the yellow, added the green and then flooded the rest in white.
I then let the entire cookie dry overnight. I find I need to have a really hard shell on the cookie prior to painting. The painting process adds some water to the icing so a harder shells helps when you start to blend colors.
Okay, next step…PAINTING!!
My first thought when I start to paint is “How Can I Add Dimension?” I like to add a darker color to the outside edges of each section so they start to stand out on their own. Once you start this process, you get an overall idea of the color balance of the cookie. I knew I wanted yellow, pink, purple, and green and I wanted your eye to move around the cookie when it was done. For me, the best way to balance each color is to have symmetry; yellow opposite yellow, pink opposite pink, etc. and that’s how I started to paint the colors within each section.
Now, I want to mention something here at this stage because it is something that happens to me EVERY SINGLE TIME I get to this stage. Without exception, I am ready to throw the cookie out at this point and start all over. It’s true. I think, I like the overall dimension I’ve added, and I like the colors I’ve used, but, something, something makes me doubt the overall outcome of the cookie at this point. STOP!!! DON’T THROW THAT COOKIE OUT! Just stay with it through to the end and I promise you it will work out! Painting on cookies is very forgiving in that you can make changes late in the game and still come out with something wonderful. So, talk yourself out of doing something drastic at this point.
Moving on the the decorating. I started with the yellow sections as I knew I wanted to keep them light. So I used white Wilton food color and a Number 2 brush to paint in this swirly design over one of the two yellow petals
On the second yellow petal, I painted a circle design. Keeping with the balanced approach, I kept the overall coloring light and added some orange dots to the middle of each circle. Where do I get my ideas for the patterns? It is mostly trial and error, however, when I am in a fabric store, I am always looking at the quilting squares. Some patterns stick with me. If looking in a fabric store isn’t your thing…Google quilt fabric and up pops millions of ideas to inspire you!
Once I get a couple of areas under my belt, I step back and decide if I want to add any additional dimension to the cookie through piping. With all of the other Folk Art cookies I added a lot more, but for this cookie, I really didn’t want to overdo it. I sort of knew in the end I wanted it to be called “Confetti Flower” and would be adding a lot of dots so I restrained myself from adding to much more depth via icing. So I added some piped elements and moved on to the rest of the painting.
More about those added flowers and dots in a minute!! Uggh. I then went about painting in the rest of the designs on each of the petals until I was satisfied with the overall look.
Now, about those flowers and dots! In hind site, I didn’t like that I added them. I was going to wait for them to dry and then pluck them off and paint over the design but I thought I’d try and make it work. So, in the end, it’s not 100% of what I would do if I had to do it over but nothing earth shattering…it is a COOKIE after all! I went on to paint the leaves and added dots around the edge of the cookie.
Now, that turquoise flower in the middle. I knew I didn’t want a design in each of the petals because I wanted it to be the “unifying” element of the cookie. I think it would have been way too much pattern if I did separate patterns on all of those petals. So I added white and some dots and put some design onto the yellow middle sections. Then I went CRAZY with the white dots! I mean CRAZY!! I love dots on cookies anyway but this one was so much fun. And…this is the final product.
To give you an idea of how this process worked for another cookie, below are the pictures for “Spoiled Dog.” With this cookie, I knew I wanted to use blues and browns for this dog prior to starting and I knew I wanted him to have an “attitude.” I tried to accomplish that by giving him that “eye” that hopefully says it all.
And that is how I paint my Folk Art Cookies. It is fun so I encourage you to give it a try. I have to say I’ve fallen in love with this technique and each time I do another painted cookie I learn something new! You probably have most of what you need to accomplish this: royal icing, gel colors, small paintbrushes. If you are just buying paintbrushes, I’ve used number 1 and number 2 brushes and a small square brush on all of these cookies. ALSO, you can accomplish a lot of this with food writers so try those as well. I think my next Folk Art cookie will be the giant heart cutter I have!! I’ll share with you when I’m done with it! 😉
All the best Cookie Lovers,