If you’ve followed my work, you know that I am a huge fan of watercolour... like I might actually have a problem. “What? I’m fully booked and you want watercoloured cookies? Ok!”... it’s happened a few times because I just can’t pass up an opportunity. But when I don’t have to mix a million and one colours and can paint on a beautiful white canvas, I’m sold. Exploit me if you will...
My first attempt at painting my cookies came about when I was working on a custom set for a person who loved mountain biking. I didn’t have an airbrush at the time and wanted to do something to really give it the wow factor and make it pop. Like any new technique I try, I had seen many cookie artists do watercolour via the school of Instagram, and on a whim decided this was going to be the day for me. Sure enough, it was INSTANT love and I’ve been a serial cookie painter ever since!
You might be intimidated at first by the idea of hand painting cookies, but let me tell you - don’t be! It’s actually a very forgiving and versatile technique that beginners can quickly get the hang of. My very first cookie decorating classes for Mother’s Day were watercolour based and every single person hit it out of the park - they even taught me a thing or two!
So what do you need to start? Obviously a great cookie (see my tips for baking the perfect sugar cookie) and a great royal icing recipe (oooh what do you know, I can also help you with that). See my first two blog posts for all of my tips and tricks!
You will start off by icing your cookies white - no mixing colours here, halleluiah! The most important thing though is a smooth base as your canvas. You want to ensure that your flood icing is a consistency that is going to settle completely flat and smooth with no lumps or bubbles.
Your iced cookie then needs to FULLY dry prior to painting. This can take anywhere from 8-12 hours typically (dry times can vary depending on your climate). I recommend icing them the evening prior to painting and leaving them to dry overnight.
Once your cookies are completely dry, it’s time to prep your watercolour and supplies. Here’s what you’ll need to get painting:
- gel food colouring
- warm water to mix with gels
- paint pallet
- acrylic paint brushes
- a small bowl of water for cleaning your brush while painting
- paper towel
- piping consistency royal icing for details if desired
In your pallets cavity, add a dime sized amount of food colour gel. Add some warm water and use a paint brush to combine until dissolved. That’s it - so easy!
AND NOW IT’S THE FUN PART!
Before you start, please know - a little goes a long way. Start minimal and work your way up. Less is so much more with watercolour and allows you to play around with textures and integrating colours. The last thing you want is a pool of water on your cookie, it’s going to eat away at your perfectly applied icing and not dry properly. I’ll take you through some example of what I mean by this with the flowers below...
Small amounts to start, then let dry for a minute or so between each step, this allows your colours to apply vibrantly and not bleed together. I personally like to add bits of darker colour for definition. Once dry, add extra details and borders if you’d like to with a piping consistency royal icing.
Another thing I love is playing around with colours. We all remember learning about colour combinations in kindergarten, one school lesson that actually applies to real life - now if only they could have taught us how to budget and do our taxes, right?
Yellow + blue = green. Bam, you’re set for the next lesson!
Here I used just 3 colours to create 5 for a rainbow effect. Again, small amounts of colour go a long way! I like adding a border to my watercolour cookies to give them a completed look. And shimmer anyone? I mean, it’s not on the essentials list but c’mon. Anytime I’m not happy with a cookie, my 6 year old tells me to “just put some sparkle on it” - and he’s right!
I’ll drop a few more videos below to give you an idea of my personal watercolour style - key word personal! Aside from the basics I’ve outlined for creating your cookie pallet, making your watercolour and ensuring you apply small amounts at a time - the rest is all you and your vision. Play around and see what works for you, that’s the beauty of any type of art. It’s subjective and everyone has their own take! Hopefully you’ve found some value in this post and be sure to send or tag me in your work! I love hearing from you!
Corianne Froese is the owner and operator of Corianne's Custom Cookies in Chestermere AB, Canada. When life as a wife and mom of two young boys allows, she loves to create and share her love of decorated cookies with others. You can follow her on Instagram and Facebook for her most up to date work!