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Live Chat with Kim Coleman of Sugar Rush Custom Cookies

Hi, Kim! Thanks for being here. If there's a technique our members seem most interested in learning about, it's hand-painting. And you're clearly a master of this craft. We're SO lucky to have you here today to share your insider tips.
I am so excited to be here Julia. Thanks so much!
Great, let's get started! I have some questions already in the queue for you!
Hi Kim, I would like to know how you paint on royal icing without the liquid dissolving the sugar?  I always have trouble with that.  What is the ratio you use for, say, alcohol and soft gel colors?
Bakeskool - My royal icing dries pretty hard so I think that prevents the icing from dissolving. I also tend to use alcohol because it evaporates very quickly. When I paint I am applying light strokes on top of the icing as quickly and as accurately as possible with a damp paint brush. I never measure the amount of paint to water or vodka ration. I put vodka in a squirt bottle so I am get get a little bit out at a time. I also have clean water near by so I am always cleaning off my brush and keeping it damp. The more alcohol I use, the more muted the colors are. In the beginning I would work the icing too much with my brush and that is when I would see little holes develop as the icing dissolved. If you are being very careful when you apply the coloring and the icing is still breaking down I would suggest trying another royal icing recipe that dries slightly harder. The more meringue powder in the recipe, the harder the icing. I hope that helps!
what is the best simple first time painted cookie one can do?
Lovinthis - There are so many wonderful things you could paint, but I think flowers are a great choice for a beginner because nature is not perfect. Flower petals and leaves come in all sizes, shapes, and colours so you have the freedom to create without worrying about mistakes.
ciao Kim..!!non sono molto esperta di biscotti ma vorrei imparare tutte le tecniche...vorrei chiederti quando si fanno gli occhi fa un puntino nero su bianco.....a volte mi succede che il nero tinge il bianco....ho visto in giro molti bei colori che non stingono...perchè a me succede..????? grazieeee..!!!
Ooh, I don't know Italian. Let me translate this one for our English speakers online.
Here's the Google Translate version of what patty53 said. Great question: Kim hello ..! biscuits are not very expert but I would like to learn all the techniques ... I want to ask when you make eyes .. you make a black dot on white ..... sometimes happens to me that the black dye the white .... I have seen around many beautiful colors that do not fade ... because it happens to me ..??? grazieeee ..!
Patty53 - If I am painting eyes I will leave the area white and then add the black for the pupil and then add shading and highlights. If you are piping the eyes using a wet on wet technique, it is essential that you have the right consistency of royal icing. If it is too thin the colors are going to run and cause the black to color the white icing and it will be uneven and messy. I would make sure you have at least a 10 count white and black icing. Pipe the white in a 2 or 3 size tip, and then pipe a black dot in a size 1 tip for the pupil. You can play around with this depending on your project and how big or small you want the eyes to be. :0)
Kim, Do you ever make mistakes (hard to imagine so), and, if so, what's the best way to correct them, especially if made with a dark color?
Julia - I do make mistakes, and I am a perfectionist and very critical of my work. For that reason, I will make extra cookies for each order so I have a back up in case I have a problem. If I make a mistake for a client that cannot be fixed, I will usually start that cookie again from scratch. If I am painting and a color runs (black in particular) I can usually "erase" it with alcohol or water by lifting the color off the cookie with my brush. If it is a lighter color I can usually always correct it by painting over with white food colouring.
Glad to hear I'm not the only one to make mistakes! Thanks for the tip!
Thanks for the opportunity Kim. A lot of people do not want to add alcohol to food colouring for painting purposes, be it for religious or other reasons. What besides water is a good substitute. An Indian lady once mentioned Hazelnut oil as an option. Any suggestions? Thanks.
Good question - the alcohol content will evaporate and be virtually non-existent on the end cookie, but . . . let's see what Kim has to say.
Cakes and Cookies- Hi Terry! I would recommend Wilton gel food coloring as they work better with water and you don't have to worry about using alcohol. I also think that the Americolor airbrush food colors are great because they are already thinned out and ready to use. I am not sure if normal flavoring extracts would be a problem for those with religious convictions as they do have alcohol in them. If not, I would use lemon extract because it has a high alcohol content of about 85% so it evaporates very quickly. If you are opposed to using any product with alcohol, then I would try using lemon juice. I don't think oil would dry properly on the cookie, but you could always experiment. I have tried painting with lemon juice, so please keep in mind it can sometimes cause colors to change depending on the brand. My blues would become purple using the lemon juice and they didn't dry quite the way I had hoped. I would just have fun and experiment to see what works best.
Thanks for the thorough answers, Kim. Amazing. Just checked my airbrush color label (Spectrum brand) and it contains food coloring, water, sugar citric acid, and sodium benzoate. No alcohol, so it should be good!
con che colori dipingi..gel..aerografo...
The translation: what colors you paint with airbrush .. .. gel ...
Can you recap the types of colorings you use, Kim?
Hi Patty53! I always use an airbrush black because the color doesn't run or fade! I have every color of Americolor Airbrush colors and I honestly love them! You only need a tiny bit, the colors are so vibrant, and they are already thinned and dry perfectly!
We're into live questions now, so it may take longer to see responses because Kim has to type them in!
Thank you for being here! What type/brand of food coloring or dye to you use?
I think we covered this one in the previous question, Anything to add, Kim?
Thanks for your answer on alcohol Kim...just arrived, better late than never.
I have tried several. I am always on the hunt to find a new one to try! My favorite are Wilton Gels and the Airbrush colors. I have powdered food coloring and have tried the Duff brand, but I seem to go back to the airbrush food colourings.
Cakes and Cookies - just as a point of clarification, the questions are queued in advance mostly for the guest's convenience, and also so we can fit more questions into the allotted time span (real-time typing takes time). The answers to questions only post once the site goes live.
Cakes and Cookies-Terry: You are welcome! :0)
Grazie Kim....sei stata gentilissima..!!!
Yes, I believe she answered my question.
OK, a question from me: what tips do you have for those of us who want to paint realistically but may not have the necessary skills or background to paint from eye? Any tips on perspective or anything to help with representational painting?
Patty53: You are most welcome!
Kim is busily typing, I suspect.
Julia, I have seen artists project pictures onto canvas for the purpose of tracing and painting. Maybe one could do this with cookies. Mini projector! Like paint by number.
I know people use Kopykake and Camera Lucida for projecting images, but I'm interested in hearing how to hone skills that don't require equipment.
Kim .. hello! embrace of a heart ... I wanted fertility thousand questions .. but the emmozione to talk to you .... I forgot if I need ... I'll send you a message!
There are three things you think about when you are looking at drawing something with perspective. Say you are looking down a street. You have your normal viewpoint, a low viewpoint and a high viewpoint. I look at things in thirds. Things in the distance will appear smaller..things in the foreground larger. Sorry if this is confusing Julia!
No, not confusing at all, Kim. Very helpful.
A corollary question: What about tips for shading and highlights? They can add so much life and dimension to a cookie. Is there a particular technique or approach that you use for adding these touches?
I have always been very visual and have been able to paint what I see since I was a young child. Recreating photos aren't a problem for me. I find that keeping a steady hand when piping fonts or words is a challenge. It is times like that i wish I had a copy machine.
Hi Julia: When I look at a photo I will study the different highlights and lowlights. This is especially important when doing portraits and shadows. Those shadows and highlights are what makes the photos come to life. Even something as simple as a flower will have different shades within a single petal. It is important to see that if you want your drawings to be as realistic as possible.
Patty53 - Feel free to post any other questions you might have here. We'll all benefit from Kim's answers here. Same holds true for anyone else online!
How long have you been painting on cookies?
Hi Cookies and Cakes by Jamie: I made my very first batch of cookies Christmas 2010 and started painting on cookies a few months later.
Amazing talent and trajectory, Kim!
I'm not sure if this has been asked - I don't see it above -- I see a lot of talk about what kind of coloring you use, but I'm curious about brushes.  I feel like I've purchased a bunch of different brushes and I haven't found any that I like yet for painting on royal icing...
Hello Amber! I have cheap brushes and I have more pricey brushes..and most of the ones I use are Royal & Langnickel. Brushes don't have to be expensive to work well. What don't you like about the brushes you purchased? Are they not thin enough? Not holding up?
I am a cake girl, but recently have become very very interested in the art of cookie decorating. Encouraged by all of you. Such fabulous work, that I think it is time to take the leap. Thanks for the tips, and hosting the chat Julia and Kim. Most enjoyable. xx
Thanks, Terry!
Thank you Terry for your kind words.
I think most of them are too 'hard' (I'm not a painter - I'm sure theres technical terms) but I can't seem to paint lightly with them no matter how delicate I try to be
Ooh, I just realized we have a "Cookies and Cakes" (Jamie) and a "Cakes and Cookies" (Terry) online!
Hi Amber. I would try a different brush. Most of mine are quite soft. Some of the cheaper brushes are very, very stiff and don't work well at all. I mentioned some of my favourite brushes in my interview with Julia a few weeks back. I am positive there would be a brush that would work for you. :0)
Amber - Here's the link to Kim's blog post. She goes into quite a lot of detail about different brush types and how she uses them. Check it out! http://cookieconnection.juliau...-in-the-truest-sense
When painting on a cookie, so you start with a basic outline and fill in, color and shade from there? Do you allow one color to dry before applying another or does the paint dry quickly enough that it isn't necessary to wait?
Thanks!  I'll re-read through and give one a try!
Hi Jamie! I will approach things different ways depending on the project. If it is really detailed like the Vera the Mouse cookies I made I will work on them in layers. Doing a base layer and then going over it with the main colours and then adding highlights and shading. I will step back and look at it. Leave it for a few hours and come back and see something else I need to work on. I usually don't have to wait for the layers to really dry unless I have made a mistake.
Just noticed the post about brushes. As an artist (in real time), you should treat brushes like your hair. Wash in shampoo and condition, and then wrap them in a tissue whilst wet to bring the bristles back to a point. Next time you want to use them they are perfect. Works for cheap and expensive ones.
Kim, how do you handle your brushes? I know you gave some tips in the blog post, but maybe a quick recap would be helpful here too?
I would treat the brushes very carefully. I would never leave them soaking in a class of water. Never..never..never! I have ruined many brushes that way. I paint with them......wash in the with clean water......wipe them on a towel or paper towel...reshape them...and just let them dry. If I am using the same brush for different colors...and I typically do this I just rinse it in water and then proceed to the next stage of my painting.
What is the best word of advice you would give to someone just getting started decorating cookies?
While Kim is typing: Any questions from those of you we haven't yet heard from? Mike? LizW? Nonnie34? Ask away! It's not every day we have an expert like Kim just a keyboard away!
When I am finished with a particular brush I will wash it with baby shampoo, reshape the brush with my fingers, and then let them dry laying down flat on a towel. I find this method works well for both cheap and expensive brushes. You should get months of use out of one brush.
Sorry, Kim, I got ahead of you. Did you see Cat's question above?
Hello Cat! The best advice that I could give someone is not to compare yourself to others. You can easily fall in a trap of feeling that your work isn't up to par. If you want to do something like painting...or learning a new instrument or craft...GO FOR IT!! I think we should celebrate the gifts we have!
Great advice, Kim. I think beginners and advanced decorators alike probably need to take that tip to heart from time to time.
Do you ever get a request that you just can't get inspired by/motivated to want to do?  How do you overcome that if so?
Kim and Julia, Thanks.  That is good advice.
Hi Amber. My head is spinning most of the time thinking of new things to create so when I am faced with a challenge to make something for someone I am all for it.
A follow up question to something you mentioned earlier: you mentioned the challenge of steadying your hand for fine detail work and lettering. Any tips for those of us with the same challenge?
Kim .. hello!!!!!!
Brushes are the key when painting fine detail and I think they are the key things a new painter should get in their kit.
Patty - avete una domanda per Kim? Si prega postalo qui. Mi nutro di domande una alla volta, dopo che Kim ha finito di rispondere alla precedente.
I find that my clients give me inspiration for something new, when I am feeling a lack of creativity, so Kim's response of new things to create rings true with me!
What is the smallest tip you use for detail work?  My "detail" s\work seems to runny and then too thick. Ugh!
I use the smallest PME tip...I think it is the 0 and 00 for very fine detail work. If I am piping something with those tips I make sure the icing is the proper consistency. If I am painting fine details I will use liner brushes.
What tips do you have for travelling internationally with cookies/icing/painting supplies?  Do you do all of the work in the destination or take pre-made cookies/pre-iced etc?
Good question, Amber. For those of you who don't know, Kim is traveling to Spain later this year to teach a master class in cookie painting, among other things.
Great - thanks!
Hello Amber! I recommend taking a few supplies and preparing and icing your cookies at the destination.
If I can chime in on Amber's question, I also recommend making sure you have lined up help at the destination to prep. The costs of doing all the prep should not fall to the instructor alone. The host venue should contribute substantially to this effort/cost.
Julia,  will this chat be available to read online after this meeting is over (for those of us that joined late.)
Yes, the transcript will get saved here (at this same link) once the chat closes, so you'll be able to read the whole thing from start to finish. All of our previous chats can also be found online. I'll find the link and post it here in a sec.
Just 8 more minutes to chat. Please send your questions now, so Kim has time to answer! Thanks!
Here's the link to previous chats, under Chats on the main navigation line; then under the Previous Chats tab. Kim's is not there yet, but will be as of 1pm central when this chat closes: http://cookieconnection.juliau...hats/previous-events
si anche io devo rileggere, non sono riuscita a seguire tutto.....poi con calma studierò..
Translation of Patty53's post: even I have to reread it, I could not follow everything ..... then calmly will study ..
Thank you so much for your time to help us! I hope to start trying to paint soon. I believe I will be a "flower girl" to begin with. That is what I draw when I doodle.
Patty53 If you have any further questions about painting you can always message me and I will see if I can help you out. :0)
Kim, regarding liner brushes and detail work: Are all liner brushes created equal, or are some more detailed/finer than others. What's the numbering on brushes mean? Are they an indicator of fineness?
Cookies and Cakes by Jamie: I think you will make some beautiful flowers!
Julia..unfortunately brushes aren't standard and can vary depending on the company. You really just have to shop around and try them out to see what you like.
You would make it difficult for me? Any last questions for Kim in the remaining 3 minutes?
If not, can I ask what your biggest painting challenge has been and how you overcame it?
Because I am a perfectionist I tend to compare my work to others. I think you have to be satisfied in your own abilities and work to achieve your own goals without comparing your work to others.
If Kim gets cut off mid-answer, I just wanted to thank her for taking time out of her weekend to share so generously with us. I am most grateful!
This chat has ended.
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