Painting Pumpkins in Watercolor


Pumpkin (can be any size; ornamental pumpkins are fine)

Pencil and eraser

Watercolors: brown, green, orange (or yellow and red if you’re mixing colors)

Watercolor Paper

Cardboard a little larger than your paper

Masking tape


Container with water

1. To begin, affix the edges of your paper to the cardboard using masking tape. The paper will buckle as water is applied. Leave the paper taped to the cardboard until the painting is completely dry (a day or so), and it should return to a flat piece again.

2. Next, place your pumpkin in front of you – you’ll be painting this pumpkin from life. Arrange the pumpkin at any angle you desire.

3. Lightly draw the pumpkin on your paper. Because the pumpkin is the only subject in the painting, draw it large enough to fill most of the paper.

4. Now, “mask” the pumpkin you drew with masking tape. Tear off small pieces of tape and go around the inside edge of your pumpkin (the tape may be crumpled in places to make it fit the curves). This technique (called “masking”) will keep your background color from going onto your pumpkin. This way, you don’t have to be quite so careful when painting around it.

5. When your pumpkin is masked, it’s time to paint the background. We’re going to use the wet-on-wet technique. With a flat brush, wet down the entire background area; don’t paint over the pumpkin. Next, dip the brush again into some water and then into either the brown or green paint. Apply this color to the wet background in places – just here and there. Notice how the wet paint on the wet paper runs over it – one of the wonderful qualities of watercolor paints.

6. Now, pick up the other color with your brush (either green or brown) and apply it to the areas of your background that are still white (don’t color the pumpkin yet). Now the colors are softly running together.

*Remember to work fairly quickly, as the water will dry quickly.

7. When your background is dry (usually within a few minutes), carefully remove the tape from the pumpkin. Now it’s time to paint the pumpkin. If you don’t have orange paint, mix yellow and red paint together to create orange. If you do have orange paint, check to see if it’s the right shade. You may need to add yellow to it anyway to get a good pumpkin color. Paint your pumpkin, using a darker orange to denote the “lines” curving down the side of the pumpkin.

8. Paint the stem of your pumpkin.

9. Great job! As with any piece of artwork you create, don’t forget to sign your name in one of the lower corners. You can sign it using a color in your painting (brown, green, or orange), or you can use a fine-tipped pen to sign it.