Painting Pumpkins and Gourds

painted gourd with daisies

Painting pumpkins and small gourds makes a fun and easy project all year round, not just in the fall. A great alternative to carving, and it’s quite colorful!

Plus, you can eat prepare and eat it as usual when you’re done displaying…if you want to. I like to use the small sizes and any smooth gourd works great too. (Not the lumpy kind we used in our other gourd crafts ideas).

These make really nice senior activities, including crafts for the elderly who may need more help.

Painting Pumpkin Projects

painted gourd centerpiece

Two-Tone Gourd with Daisies

The gourd shown on the top of this page is really simple. The green tone on the bottom of the gourd reminded me of grass, so I decided to grow a few daisies.

You Will Need:
* A two-tone gourd
* Acrylic paints in your choice of colors
* Pointed paint brush, water jar, rags
* Plastic picnic plate for a palette

First paint a few straight stems of different heights. You can also draw them on with a fine-tip marker. Add a few small leaves.

Doing the petals is a basic technique I use when painting pumpkins. I like to make 2 layers of petals. The back circle of petals is longer in size and is done in darker paint. When dry, I make the inner circle of petals in a lighter color so it stands out. Then dab a contrasting color in the middle of the flower (green in this case) to form its center.

As you can see, painting pumpkins also works very well to use in easy, affordable centerpieces.


Bright Floral Pumpkin

painted gourd or pumpkin, floral

The bright sample here is free-hand painting in acrylics. But you can easily use stencils for a quick design. (I like to keep a variety of stencils around for all kinds of easy craft ideas).

We also have templates you can use, and just transfer them onto the pumpkin or gourd, as with old-fashioned carbon paper. See our pages at: Flower Templates and Designs, and Free Leaf Template and Pattern Ideas. Here are the basics of what to do.

You Will Need:
* Acrylic paints; i.e., red-orange, magenta, brown, green, yellow, white
* plastic picnic plate for palette
* Brushes, both flat and pointed
* Water jar & rags

First put blobs of paint on your palette. When painting pumpkins, notice the natural shape and curve that you’re working with. Then paint a brown curvy vine with your pointed brush coming around and down the pumpkin, following its curves. I basically made a large loop.

I painted the large flower first -- on top of the vine in the center of the pumpkin; in red-orange, with a basic daisy formation. The longer petals in back were painted on first. When dry, I added a second layer of shorter petals in front.

Then I highlighted the petal edges with a little purple to give it a shaded look. Finally, a yellow dot for the center, and also a yellow line down the center of each petal, to form a vein.

Next came smaller flowers done in magenta at various areas off the vine, with stems connecting them. These were made with just three strokes, joining together at the base of the flower.

Lastly, I painted in easy leaves here and there along the vine, and by the large flower. Just a few so as not to clutter and over-do it.

When painting pumpkins like this one, I like to use two colors on the brush at the same time, to give a two-tone effect to the leaves and petals. For instance, for the leaves drag one side of the brush in white paint, and the other in green.

Then stroke on the leaves. This is sometimes called one-stroke painting. I used the same technique for the small flowers, using magenta and white on the brush.


Hanging Flower Puffs

painted gourd or squash, pom-pom flowers

The painting to the right was done on a yellow squash, but could just as easily be for painting pumpkins. These flowers were very simple to do. You would use the same types of materials as above. First choose your color scheme of acrylic paints.

The easiest way to make these flowers is to dip a stiff round stippling brush into your paint then stipple (dot) on large, round circles. If you don't have a stippling brush, just make a mass of dots with a regular pointed brush.

You can add another color on top to give a two-tone look. Then take a pointed brush and draw free-form squiggly stems coming down from the top of the pumpkin to each flower. Add a few leaves to each.

You could also have the flowers growing up from the bottom of the pumpkin, toward the top. These types of round flowers are extremely easy to paint, and I use them on all types of projects, including painting clay pots and painting on glass.


Leaf Silhouettes

painted gourd with black vines

Using just silhouette shapes can be very striking when painting pumpkins. It's especially good if you want to keep it really simple – in all black, for instance. Or purple.

Birds, leaves, vines and flowers all make good designs. This sample was done in black acrylic paint.

If you want a really simple project, just make fewer leaves and make them larger. You may find you need to put two coats of paint on, for silhouettes.

Again, you can get some leaf ideas on our page at Free Leaf Template and Pattern Ideas.

We also have a template for a vine design, further below. See how this can be made into a basic centerpiece with flameless tea light candle...

You can also print out the pattern below to use for painting pumpkins. Use the entire design or just part of it for a simpler look. Just enlarge or reduce the size as needed. It can be transferred to your pumpkin with carbon paper if necessary. (Since this pattern is copyrighted, it is just for your personal use).

vine template
painted gourd or pumpkin with leaves


Large Autumn Leaves

The example to the right was made by using a very large leaf design. Although I painted this on free-hand, you can definitely use a pattern.

Keep the three leaves in a group. Overlapping them results in a nice, tight design, rather than a scattered feel.

These kinds of leaves could also be made smaller or painted all in black for a silhouette look.

This pumpkin was very smooth, and I applied three coats of thin paint.


Pumpkin Faces

painted pumpkin faces

Halloween is an especially great time for painting pumpkins with fun faces, and they don't all have to be scary! Why not add a little autumn cheer. Making faces is very simple if you think in terms of using basic shapes -- like circles and ovals, as with the eyes, cheeks, and nose.

A crookedy mouth and a few swooshes for the hair will do just fine. The less "perfect," the more amusing it is, in fact. You could also glue on very large googly eyes from the craft store. You could also glue on a little moss on the top of the head for hair, and even add an old straw hat.

painted pumpkin boy

Pumpkin Guy

Take a look at the painting pumpkins project on our Fall Crafts For The Elderly page on how to make this cute pumpkin with a funny face, which is very simple. He's got Spanish moss for hair and an old bow tie. You may think of many more ways to decorate him too.

We also give tips on making a girl, and ideas to accessorize them.


Some folks, though, do like to carve pumpkins at any age, from basic to extravagant. You may have a resident artist who can make a great one. Do you know anyone who could carve one like the masterpiece below that we came upon?

pumpkin face



Be sure to also see: Easy Halloween Crafts -- This page consolidates various Halloween and fall ideas throughout our web site and has several new ones too! Easy to change out the colors and theme for other seasons and holidays. Lots of ideas!

Painting Clay Pots -- Painting terra cotta clay pots is a very versatile project, and the colorful pots have so many different uses. (Planting, being just one of them). And they make a great pick-me-up, cheerful activity any time of year. You can also do the same process on plastic pots, should you not be able to use the breakable kind. See our instructions and ideas. You may also get some more ideas for painting pumpkins.
Really Easy Apple Craft Ideas -- Try these really easy apple craft ideas (for all ages). Apples are not only abundant in fall, they are available all year long, so these ideas are perfect any time.


Our Craft Book!

Easy Crafts and Gifts -- Get more pumpkin, gourd, and loads of other ideas for all year - over 120 projects! Plus, a FREE booklet of templates and patterns that you can use in your senior activities. See a sneak preview.


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