Autumnal Activity: Pumpkin Painting

A pumpkin is for Autumn… not just Halloween.
Are these beautiful bounties of Autumn wasted merely as hollowed out Halloween lanterns? Come 31st October the poor pumpkin will be subjected to having its innards scooped out, its flesh hacked into and a candle popped inside to light up its scary face before being put out in the cold to fizzle out in the rain. All good fun and a spooky sight in the dark evening but I believe they deserve more than just one night of glory.
All hail the painted pumpkin! Glorious beauties that bring joy instead of fear. Much safer for children to create than carving (not a knife in sight- think soft paint brushes, not sharp knives) a meditative pleasure to paint (methodical brushstrokes and colour mixing, yes please) all resulting in a beautiful autumnal decoration for your home or porch for the whole of the season.
If you’ve never been pumpkin picking it’s a fabulous family experience. Kids running free in fields of mud dotted with pumpkins, parents debating the merits of an orange, blue or white pumpkin on every size and scale imaginable and invariably a hot chocolate to warm hands and tummies afterwards. This is where my pumpkin journey starts each October with a family trip to the local pumpkin picking farm to navigate our wheel barrow through the mud and collect as many weird and wonderful pumpkins as we can. About 5 years ago I started painting pumpkins for Autumn. There are not many things I won’t try painting on and pumpkins are now one of my favourites. Using acrylic paint I enjoyed the challenge of decorating a smooth rounded surface, experimenting with lettering, collage and pattern. I painted so many one year that they spilled out of the house and onto the drive with a collection of brightly painted pumpkins welcoming visitors throughout the Autumn. A tradition I now recreate each year with my daughter who is 4 and enjoys painting them with me each year. It really is a family occasion.
In order to share my love of a painted pumpkin I host a Pumpkin Painting workshop annually, helping others to embellish their own Autumnal gem, so on our annual pumpkin farm trip I am often to be found scouring the fields for a collection of 10-20 pumpkins suitable for decorating at the workshop. What makes a good pumpkin for decorating? Anything will do but ideally you want a smooth unblemished surface and a nice hard skin. White pumpkins are beautiful when decorated with watercolour or inks and this is ideal for little ones as watercolour is safe and will wash off little hands and surfaces easily. The Blue Prince pumpkin is such a beautiful colour it needs only simple minimal embellishments and the orange pumpkin can be painted any colour with acrylic or household emulsion first before you decorate if you want a coloured surface to begin. Perhaps to coordinate with your interiors or front door. Collaging is easy, and again child friendly. I use PVA glue and tissue paper to decoupage the surface and have experimented with foil this year to create silver leaf shapes. Sharpies are very handy for lettering or for children to decorate with if you don’t have time to get the paints out. Perhaps my favourite design though is the lettered wreath pumpkin.

Here’s how to make your own …

1. Wash and dry your pumpkin.

2. Paint two coats of white acrylic in an oval or circle shape on your chosen ‘front’ of the pumpkin. Let it dry.

3. Using a pencil write your chosen lettering on the white prepared area (a watercolour pencil willdisappear easily once painted over).

4. When happy with the lettering go over it using a sharpie or a thin brush and acrylic paint. It helps to rest the pumpkin on a jam jar at this stage. Allow to dry.

5. Using acrylic paint and brushes paint a wreath design around the edge of the oval. The easiest way to do this is to dip your brush in the paint and place it flatly on the skin of the pumpkin to create a leaf shape (practice on paper first if you wish) Join the leaves with a thin line of paint for the branches. Berries can be added using a cotton bud dipped in paint. Flowers can easily be created with cotton bud dots or leaf shapes in a circle.
6. Once dry display in your home or your doorstep. The painted pumpkin should last a few weeks outside in all weathers. Mine lasted until December one year and then got redecorated for Christmas.

Happy Pumpkin Painting!

Jo Winter

For more pumpkin and crafting inspiration follow @wintercreates on Instagram. Please share your painted pumpkins with me by tagging @wintercreates I’d love to see your creations.

Discover our enchanting botanical pumpkin print