Judging by the number of entries we had for this Practice Bakes Perfect Challenge, I would say that many of you spent more time in your kitchens than at the beach this summer! We had a whopping 55 (!!!!) entries for this challenge, and hopefully at least some of those entries were made during a staycation whilst wearing a bikini-printed apron and sipping a margarita! (No? . . . Just me?)
I personally did not get to do much cookie baking or painting this summer, but I did get to Paris where I was able to see a lot of inspirational paintings like this ginormous oval panorama of Monet's "Water Lilies" at the Musée de l'Orangerie.
It was *almost* as inspiring and impressive as the 55 entries we had for Practice Bakes Perfect Challenge #35!
Before we get to our spotlighted artists, let's talk about the big prize for this challenge and reveal our one lucky winner (who was chosen at random from among all of the challenge entrants). The prize for this challenge is a fabulous apron and potholder that Cookie Connection founder and host @Julia M. Usher picked up while on vacation in Positano, Italy in July.
So sorry - the vintage pitcher and egg beater are just photo props and will remain with Julia , but she's sweetened the pot by tossing some Rainbow Dust heart-shaped Rainbow Jewels, Sugarin flower paste (by Arati Mirji), and Loyal disposable piping bags into the mix! (All of the latter were picked up by Julia on her recent teaching trip to Australia!)
And the winner of Practice Bakes Perfect Challenge #35 is . . . *drumroll, please* . . . @Ryoko ~Cookie Ave.! Congratulations, Ryoko! I am sure you will put all of that cookie decorating loot to excellent use! Ryoko had two outstanding entries for this challenge, but the one that really caught the judges' eyes was this one:
Rainy Day by Ryoko ~Cookie Ave.Our judges were smitten by the contrast of those bright, whimsical, fruit-filled umbrellas against the very dark and ominous sky and sea. Though whimsical in its placement, the fruit is very realistically painted. And the very layered tones of blue and grey that Ryoko used for the sea and sky are incredibly powerful and create an extraordinary sense of "seriousness" and depth. Finally, the raindrops, although only two-dimensional, really look like they are popping off the surface of the cookie. This is a fantastic entry, and we were very excited to learn that Ryoko, who has been a dedicated participant in nearly every Practice Bakes Perfect challenge, finally won the random prize drawing! Congratulations, again, to Ryoko!
And without further ado, let's take a look at our other spotlighted artists, in no particular order . . .
Late Summer by PUDING FARMLet me just start off here by saying that, even though it looks like @PUDING FARM merely plucked some fruit and plopped it on top of some round cookies, those are NOT real peaches, or leaves, or stems. Those are 100-percent royal icing, people! I know you are saying to yourselves, "No way!", but I am here to tell you, "Yes, way!" You absolutely MUST look at the process photos for this entry to appreciate how all the individual elements for these cookies were made. (You can see them all in the comments to this entry.) The very brief explanation is that the fruit, stems, and leaves were made as all-white royal icing transfers and then painted with powdered food coloring and water to look incredibly real.
Bruxa the Kitty by Elke Hoelzle
As one of our judges commented: "Sometimes paint can do things that icing just can't replicate. The fine strands of the kitty's fur are beautifully rendered in paint, an effect that would be difficult to achieve with icing alone." (And this is why it is so important to develop some painting skills as a cookie artist, even if you would never consider yourself a "paint artist.") Additionally, I want to draw your attention to those eyes, that is if you haven't been captivated by them already! The way Elke captured the light reflected in the cat's eyes is pretty spectacular and extremely realistic. They almost look like they are made of glass.
Icy Woods by Cookies by joss
This entry by @Cookies by joss perfectly showcases the harmonious interplay between painting and dimensional piping, and the incredible texture and dimension you can achieve by combining those two techniques. I can almost feel the chill coming off that icy stream! I strongly encourage you to take a look at the process pictures for this entry (in the comments to this entry) to see how this little work of art developed layer by layer with paint, royal icing, and gumpaste.
My City - Painted with Coffee by Ewa Kiszowara MOJE PIERNIKI
This entry is an extremely lovely, rather antique photo-ish rendering of Ewa's hometown. But the most amazing thing about this entry is that it was painted entirely with COFFEE! We loved the incredibly rich, natural shades of brown created by the coffee, and more than one of our judges surmised that the completed coffee-painted cookie probably smelled extra delicious!
Flower Vase by Kanch J@Kanch J was the most prolific of all of our Practice Bakes Perfect entrants, having entered eight unique works of cookie art! We liked so many of them, but, collectively, this "Flower Vase" was our favorite. I love how dreamy this whole scene is, and especially how the yellow and gold colors make the scene look like it is being lit by the rays of fading sun coming in through the window. As another judge commented: "I like how the white flowers pop against the dark background, the shading on the vase, and the texture on the window frame." This is a well-planned and beautifully executed cookie!
Skate City Throwback by Sweet GypsyMy own personal history (obsession?) with 80s roller rinks aside, I think this entry is a really well-designed cookie that deftly evokes the shadowy, glam vibe of the roller skating scene of that era. As one of our judges put it: "This cookie has a really nice mix of colors, perspective, dynamic (the skaters), and dimension (the over-piped colorful lights and the skateboard and disco ball cookie layers)." To that I would add that the interplay of light and shadows is remarkable here. @Sweet Gypsy masterfully painted the skaters' shadows and judiciously used the metallic silver paints/dusts to create that type of shimmery light that only a disco ball can make!
Handpainted Octopus in Red by Tarryn Meiring
I love the complete whimsy of this scene - the twirly, swirly tentacled squid carefully inspecting a butterfly! With the blue background, we aren't quite sure who is out of its element - the squid or the butterfly?! Tarryn achieved a great sense of dimension and motion in all of those legs by using several different shades of orange and various opacities of white for the tentacles.
Poppy on Wallpaper Background by AlisaS
I love this entry for two reasons: First, this design really reminds me of the the style of actual wallpaper many people had in their homes when I was a kid (during the Age of Skate City ), and second, I was very impressed with all the different ways that @AlisaS used sponges for painting (as far as I could tell, no other entry utilized sponges). Here, sponges were used to create the striped background and for layering colors. Sponges were also used for stenciling the white swirly patterns and for the faint orange around the edges of the yellow squares. AlisaS also used a dry paint brush to create that subtle streakiness in the background colors by running the brush over the still-wet sponged-on colors.
Too Many Cancers by Kim Damon
"Too many cancers." Truer words have never been said. Our judges were impressed by the sheer number of ribbons Kim made, and how she so carefully painted every single one. No two are the same. Kim skillfully utilized dark and light tones of each individual color, along with white food coloring, to create the illusion of real 3-D folded satin ribbons.
Porcelain Ballerina by Edyta Kołodziej
This entry is so pretty and refined. One of our judges said that the ballerina reminded her of a music box. I love the look of the roses and leaves around the border, whose graduated tones were created with the one-stroke painting method. I also like that the ballerina figure was piped, again to add dimension and give that "music box-ballerina" appearance.
Wnuczek na Wakacjach (aka Grandson on Vacation) by Teresa Pękul
I just really like this one. I like it for a lot of reasons, but most of all, Teresa captures so much joy in this portrait. That smile and the slight blush of the skin are perfect. I also really like how Teresa used the palm trees reflected in the cool-little-dude shades to show that this little guy is definitely on vacay!
With 55 entries, it was extremely difficult to choose just a few to spotlight. I strongly encourage everyone to pop over to the Practice Bakes Perfect clip set to see ALL of the entries, because there are some real gems in there that are not featured here. And while you are over there, absorbed in all of the lovely painted cookies, definitely scroll through the comments for each entry because many of the entries have amazing process photos and descriptions.
Finally, I must say that I love how so many people who had no experience with painting prior to this challenge fearlessly tried their hand at this new skill again and again, submitting multiple entries to the challenge. To those people, whether they were featured here or not, I say, "Keep it up!" Practice does bake perfect!
Our next challenge will post in about a week, on or about September 8, 2019. Have a great holiday weekend, everybody, and let's all raise a cookie and a toast the end of an art-filled summer!
Christine Donnelly began her professional baking career at 16, when she was hired on the spot at her local bakery to work the counter and decorate cakes. After detours to college and law school, she worked as a trial lawyer in Chicago for many years, ultimately leaving that career to become a stay-at-home mother to her two children. In her “retirement,” she continued to bake at home, at last finding her preferred artistic medium in decorated cookies. In February 2013, Bakerloo Station was born with a presence on both Facebook and Instagram. Christine makes cookies to balance her left brain, to inspire and share creative ideas, and to feed those needs that only art can satisfy.
Photo credit: Christine Donnelly
Note: Practice Bakes Perfect is a bimonthly Cookie Connection blog feature written by Christine Donnelly that poses inspiration or challenges to get you to stretch as a cookie artist - for practice, for prizes, and for fun! Its content expresses the views of the author and not necessarily those of this site, its owners, its administrators, or its employees. Catch up on all of Christine's past Cookie Connection posts here.