Artist’s Palette & Paintbrush Cookies (with a special “Twist”)

Art Palette Cookies via Sweetapolita

Happy Friday! Okay, I won’t lie: this is one of the happiest Fridays I’ve had in quite some time (and I really have had some lovely Fridays in my day!). I’ll warn you that this paragraph really has nothing to do with the artist palettes, paintbrushes, paints, or even cookies, but I feel that you should know as I sit here typing, I keep clicking back to The Pioneer Woman’s Photography website. This week she is having another one of her amazing Photo Assignments, and the theme is Food Photography…you may see where this is going! Being such a newbie food photographer and submitting among so many outstanding photographers, I’m so excited to report that 2 of my cake photos were selected by Ree to be in the running: one in yesterday’s group and another tonight. Somebody, pinch me, please. Truly, I didn’t know it would affect me so much, but I am downright giddy, and I hope you don’t mind my sharing that with you. If you’d like to see those photos, along with so many unbelievable entries, you can click here for Group 3 and here for Group 4.  Now, let’s talk colourful artist confections!

Art Palette Cookies via Sweetapolita

A few months back, I noticed a comment on one of my blog posts from “A Fanciful Twist.” I have to say that it jumped out at me, and I was curious as to who was behind this enchanting name. After clicking the link, I was suddenly immersed in an artistic world like none I had ever seen before. I knew whoever was behind all of this beauty, magic, and intrigue had to be pretty special. Well, she is, and her name is Vanessa Valencia. She is the kindred spirit behind A Fanciful Twist. We became fast friends, and her talent astounds me daily. Not only is she talented, but she is the most unique and curiously mysterious girl I’ve ever come to know.

Her artistic range is broad, including original paintings, prints, cards, dolls, jewelry, pottery, and so much more. Her portfolio is seemingly endless, as she is experienced in the art world, yet each piece she creates is fresh and captivating. I immediately connected with her confection-themed pieces, in particular, and wanted to share some of my favourites with you. Here are some of the pieces that truly inspire me:

At the Patisserie


Cupcake Macaron Fete


A Perfectly Sweet Day


 Sweet Cake


The Party

And, ah yes, my current favourite:  The Party. Now that’s my kind of party! And that cake? She’s just so beautiful, and I love everything about this–the entire piece speaks to me. Reese (my 3 1/2 year old) fell in love with her at first glance too. She, being the painter she is, ran for her brushes, paint, palette, and paper, and said “Mommy, I want to paint her too!” And so she did. In about 2 minutes flat, she brought me this perfect little painting–her version of Vanessa’s The Party:

 Oh dear me. Let us not even speak of the unmeasurable pride and joy that this painting brings me, or I may cry. Mama-love x infinity.

 Art Cookies via Sweetapolita

Between my sweet and infinitely creative friend, Vanessa Valencia, and my little Reese, painting inspiration surrounds me. Not a day goes by at our house when there isn’t a handful of paintbrushes, open jars of colourful paint, and a string of finished works of art hanging on the fridge to dry; Reese simply cannot get through the day without painting a picture. I think these artist palette and paintbrush cookies are so much fun, and they fit right in at our house. Both of these cookie designs are decorated with a combination of fondant and royal icing. Now, I will admit that they are not a quick and easy design; they’re not difficult, but just a wee bit time-consuming (but worth it, if you ask me), particularly the brush cookies. However, to me, life is in the details!

A potentially confusing tidbit: I painted the paint and paintbrushes with paint and paintbrushes. Ouch; my brain hurts.

If you’d like to make these artist cookies, here’s the how-to:

Let me start by saying that I wish I had a photo tutorial for you! I believe, though, that if you are going to give these a try, that you won’t have trouble with these steps:

Artist’s Palette Cookies:

1. Bake & cool round (or oval) sugar cookies. Roll out white fondant to approximately 1/8″ thickness, and cut out circle (or oval) using the same cookie cutter as you did the cookie itself. Cut a small “bite” out of the side and, using your fingers, shape and smooth edges to look resemble a palette (I use a bit of shortening on my fingers.). While the fondant is still soft, take a small round cutter and score 5 circles in fondant. You can set the entire piece aside, or you can attach to cookie now. I prefer to do all of the palettes and then adhere to the cookie all at once.

2. Using an offset palette knife, spread a very thin layer of royal icing onto one cookie, then lay the fondant circle on top and very gently press onto cookie. Set aside.

3. Colour royal icing any “paint” colours you like, and pipe little swirls onto each circle. For this project, I filled a small disposable Ziploc-style bag with a small amount of each colour and cut a small triangle out of corner, rather than using piping bags or tips. For the gold “paint” I let the white royal icing swirl dry, and I painted it with gold non-toxic paint. I won’t lie to you: it was my 24 karat gold paint. I cannot stop using this stuff.

And there you have bright and colourful artist palette cookies! Now, onto the paintbrushes:

Artist’s Paintbrush Cookies:

For the wooden brush handle:

1. Bake and cool 7″ x 1/2″ (or so) sugar cookie “sticks.”

2. Dye some white fondant (depending on how many you’re making) light brown, and taking equal parts white fondant, make two long rope-shapes using each colour. Twist loosely into braid, then roll into ball, followed by long handle shape pieces. I did about 7″ wooden handles. Cut one end of flush. Set aside.

*Tip: When rolling fondant or gumpaste into long uniform pieces or “snakes,” I roll with my hands until it takes on the basic sausage shape, and then I hold a big plastic cutting board and roll the piece underneath in a back and forth motion. This ensures it’s of uniform diamater.

3. Using white fondant, make a tear drop shape for each brush tip. Using a knife, or other sharp tool, make little tip lines to create the illusion of the brush tip. Set aside.

4. Mix a drop of brown gel colour with some clear lemon extract or vodka, and with a paintbrush (yep, painting-the-paintbrush-with-a-paintbrush thing again: weird.) brush the liquid onto each handle. Because woodgrain is characteristically imperfect, this can be a very quick paint job. It looks great no matter what you do! Set aside to dry completely.

5. Once dry, using a dab of royal icing, on end  of handle and secure to the straight end of the handle. Let dry.

6. Roll small and very thin piece of fondant for the metal wrap, and cut it to about 1 1/2″ length, wrapping around the joint between the tip and handle, using a few dabs of water to adhere. Taking a pin or toothpick, make small dot markings and lines for realistic finish (see photo of paintbrush). Let dry.

7. Paint the wrap piece with a metallic non-toxic paint (lustre dust mixed with clear lemon extract or vodka). Because I have been sniffing too many paint fumes around here lately, I, again, used my 24 karat gold paint. I just love the look. Then, if desired, paint the very end of the paintbrush tip with corresponding colours to your palettes).

8. Using a very thin bit of royal icing, gently secure the paintbrush to the cookie. Let dry and voila!

A little bit of extra work, but I think these cookies are worth it.

To be properly dazzled and mystified by the wonder that is Vanessa Valencia from A Fanciful Twist, visit her on her official website, or her blog, or over at her Etsy shop. She’s exceptional. I promise.

Have a wonderful (and colourful) weekend!

*All art images via Vanessa Valencia.

Good luck & enjoy!


Share the Sweetness!


  1. Laura Lee says

    That’s ridiculous! I didn’t realize the paintbrushes were cookies too. Unreal Rosie.
    Love Reese’s picture too. I have paintings all over my house also…just makes the kids feel so proud to have it on display.

  2. Liz Forshaw says

    Hi Rosie! Have been poring over Ree`s site at Pioneer Woman, since getting a good digital camera this Christmas. Thank you for providing the link to her site. It’s been so useful and I’m learning a lot!

    I found your cakes entered in the Food Photos contest there and just had to leave a supportive comment:)

    There are a lot of talented entries, but I really hope yours will win. Bestest Luck!

  3. says

    Oh, my kindred beloved friend….

    Did my discomboulated 1 a.m. e-mail make any sense? :)

    I was supposed to be gushing, as I still am~

    I can not get over the cookies. Talk about talented, that’s you, whose beyond talented. And the gold paint, plus your cookie sculpting has me at “freak out!!” – they are ammmmmmmmmazing.

    Rosie, your photos are incredible, and I am so excited that they are chosen. They are seriously, well, there are no words. but let me try. They are bright and clear,, they have depth and punch, and yet are soft too— and then an incredible dessert to boot. I have to go peek again. I saw your beautiful blue cake, but I must go check on the 2nd choice too. I love all of your photos. And the images of your ruffled pink cake, sliced with dark goodness, are tucked in my memory bank, and pop up constantly. Thank you for including me in your beautiful post. Love, V

  4. says

    Rosie! You knocked my socks off with these cookies. The paint palettes are gorgeous and the brushes are amazing in their detail. So very impressive.

    P.S. Little Reese’s painting is a priceless keeper for sure and Vanessa Valencia’s talent is wonderful. I love her name, it just flows so nicely.

  5. says

    Vanessa is one of my favorite artists and Reese created a beautiful tribute! Your cookies are absolutely gorgeous! Thanks for sharing the how to!

  6. says

    Thanks, everyone. I’m so glad you like the cookies, and I knew you would adore Vanessa’s work. Paula, I agree: I love her name! Truly, all of your comments make me so happy. I can’t thank you enough!

  7. nikki says

    I found your site through Pioneer Woman. I have to say you are truly talented in your dessert creations, that asparagus cake, WOW amazing!!! I will definitely be checking in to your site often. Good luck on the photo contest.

  8. says

    How beautiful…all of you! The one thing that struck me though was Reese; she reminded me of another little girl. Mine.

    When Emily was young we sang all the time; I started by singing her to sleep every night and our house was always filled with music. I still chuckle at the movie of her first ballet recital when she obviously had to watch her friends to get the steps…but you could hear her voice above all others.

    But it wasn’t until 6th grade when a teacher approached me asking if Emily would consider auditioning for the lead in a musical that I took much real notice; and it was hard not to after seeing that musical and being awed by my own child that I stated to think of it as a gift. No matter my influence and willingness to have music around us; I simply can not sing a lick!

    Fast forward through years of choirs, singing as top soprano in college and church choirs and winning an International competition at the Syndney, AUS Opera House to now leading a choir – your story reminded me of how sometimes it truly is a gift; something they HAVE to do, much like your Reese. I envision great things for her!

  9. says

    I follow u on twitter and you are extremely talented I have seen some amazing
    cakes in my time in the UK but yours tops them all. Just wanted to compliment
    you on your talent and look forward to your new creations. An inspiration
    Caz x

  10. Karen Lawson says

    I think I might faint! I am so aghast in delight at 3 things currently. 1. Having seen your beautiful cake photo on Pioneer women’s photos stream. 2. Having my eyes behold the wonder of your palette cookies! 3. Anticipating whats next!

  11. says

    Just found your blog and I think I’m in love…I want my blog to look like yours when it grows up!

    I’m going to bookmark a bunch of things to try…love love love!

  12. Mary says

    wow!!!!!!! these are unbelievable…and I LOVE Reese’s painting. I am hoping to get another of her originals for my fridge ;)! xo

  13. says

    These are so unbelievably stunning I cannot take my eyes off them! My hubbie is an artist and I think I’ll have to make these for his birthday next month!

  14. Patrick says

    Love the colors and the innovation behind it. You may want to also check out this site which full of inspiration. PSSSST! relates to innovation in food and beverage and I just love it! Thank you for sharing…

  15. says

    Congrats on being having not one but two features on your PW for her photography assignment! Now onto the post, I LOVE LOVE LOVE these. Wow your creativity is amazing and the execution of this is pitch perfect.

  16. Jennifer says

    Absolutely LOVE these cookies! The color and composition of the photos are amazing and the cookies themselves, are perfect. The detail on the paint brushes would fool anyone into thinking they’re real!
    PS: You are an inspiration to all of us in the baking/blogging world and you have always been honest about where your designs come from if not your own. Keep up the great work!

  17. says

    I think your artists palette cookies are super lovely! Yes I have seen others online as well, but yours are quite different! The detail is just wow! Those brushes, oh my! You are an inspiration for your original executions of cakes and confections. It’s sad if others can’t see the originality of your creations, but they are few and far between. You’ve just hit the critical mass where the critics come out to play:).

    • says

      Tracey, thank you so much for the kind note and for saying it exactly how it is. Also, I’m so glad you wrote because I clicked your link and your blog is divine! Thank you again for your words–it makes me a bit sad when people try to turn a happy and creative project into something negative. Not only do I not copy other confection designers’ work, I typically avoid looking at it whatsoever when I am designing. In the case of these cookies, I was curious if they had been done, but I really didn’t find any online, although I’m sure after a few moments of searching I had a baby climbing up my leg and had to stop looking :) I’m actually glad I didn’t see any others, otherwise my design may not have turned out as authentic as I feel it did. I really appreciate your words! Xo

  18. Estie says

    These are soooo amazingly beautiful! Would you mind sharing source info for the gold paint and the colors you used for the pallete-I’d love to attempt these for my daughters b-day party!!! Keep up the incredible work!!

  19. says

    LOVE them! I did a craft party for my daughter, and we did palatte cookies too! I made a cookie cutter in the shape of a palatte, iced them with royal icing and let it dry. Then, during the party, I squeezed on dollops of icing and let the kids make the “paint” into colors with decorating sugar. (I posted about it on my blog.) Yours are truly works of art!

  20. says

    Hi! I just wanted to say congratulations on being a finalist at pioneer woman! The picture she choose of yours is my favorite and i think it should have won! When I see that picture,it makes me want to bake a cake just like it!It’s so pretty! Your blog is now one of my fave food/photo blogs.Even my 12 yr old daughter put your blog on her blogroll b/c she loves it so much! :)

  21. says

    WOW! I love your creative baking skills and am totally blown away and in love with the artwork of Vanessa! She is my new favorite artist! Thank you for sharing this, as I would not have found out about all this great talent! Thank you! You both are very creative artist! I am always looking for other intriguing and creative work as I am a Designer/Artist at heart myself! Very inspiring!

  22. says

    I don’t bake as much as I’d like (old, tiny kitchen and old, finicky oven–literally an antique), but when I do, I adore doing creative stuff like this. This is SO going in my recipes bookmarks; they’re absolutely precious! (Also clearly I have to score me some of this gold edible paint…)

  23. Michelle rauer says

    Just found your blog..and I’m enjoying so much. Have found out so much since reading your blog. Vanessa is a wealth of inspiration for cake decorating…wow


  24. says

    I am totally and completely in awe of these, they are absolutely stunning! I bet they taste delicious too, I just wish that my baking looked this impressive. Maybe I’ll be inspired to give them a go myself when I get a spare afternoon. Gorgeous.

  25. says

    Oh the joy, when you happen upon a new blog that makes your heart all a flutter! What a delightful morning this has been… sauntering through page after page of beauty and inspiration, while daintily dabbing drool :) Although I certainly do not possess your kitchen artistry, you have inspired me to want to kick it up a notch when baking! I especially was smitten with these awesome cookies. I just recently shared a pattern for a painter’s pallet applique block. I like to encourage our readers to come up with unique ways to use applique designs. Your cookies are a perfect example of how to do just that. I will be sharing your awesome cookies and your inspiring blog on WFA’s Facebook page. Thanks for sharing your talents with us all :)


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