How to: Paint your Pup(kin)

Full disclosure, I HATE carving pumpkins. It takes forever, the carving utensils are always either dull and childproof or downright hazardous. The innards are cold/sticky/acidic and ruin a girl's manicure. I am all about fall, but this is a tradition I've never been able to get behind. 

Enter the painted pumpkin! Several of my favorite artists have jumped on the bandwagon with fresh colors and poppin' patterns! I don't plan on selling any in the near future, but wanted to offer some ideas in case anyone is up for a little DIY puppy lovin!

Let's first discuss supplies. If you're wanting something long lasting (and why shouldn't you), I recommend grabbing an artificial white pumpkin from your local craft shop. Real pumpkins still look adorable, but the temperature and moisture changes will lead to bubbling paint within a few days at best, leaving your hard work for naught. Neither will perform terribly well on the step and are waaaay to cute to go to waste, so I'd wait to put it out on the big day and bring it inside by sundown to avoid any dew or pesky teenagers!

For this project, I used this 13" guy from Target. It's perfect because the crevices aren't terribly deep, making it ideal for tracing. I also really like their Handmade Modern multi-surface paints! They come in a lovely range of colors and they're the perfect consistency. They also carry this set, which would be perfect for this project as you'd need a large flat brush for painting the bluk of it and a medium round brush for details. I browsed Amazon and unfortunately didn't find any that seem to cut the mustard. If shopping at Michael's, I really like their Martha Stewart craft paints and here's a nice little brush set. 

I used three colors - light pink, dark pink, and gold for accent. Here are a few other combos that would be cute:

  • red/white/black
  • orange/black/gold
  • pink/green/gold
  • Black/grey/silver
  • Blue/white/gold
  • Purple/green/black

I recommend first giving your pumpkin a quick blast with sandpaper if you have some on hand. A rough surface will hold paint a bit better. 

Start by painting your the body of your pumpkin with your main color. This layer should be thick enough to cover any white, but thin enough to not be able to see any brush strokes. I like to leave a space on the bottom, then come back to it when the sides are dry. Keeps the table clean and prevents sticking. I waited an hour between each coat, which may be overkill, but I wanted to play it safe!

While that first big coat was drying, I printed a photo of Norm to use as my stencil. When selecting a photo, the key is to make sure you can see their whole body and their major features (ears, paws, tail) are pronounced. This especially key with fluffy dogs - don't want to wind up with a shapeless blob!

Printing on a regular 8.5x11" sheet of paper is perfect for this 13" pumpkin. Most printers will have a zoom option in print settings to make an image larger or smaller. Alternatively, you could paste it into a document and resize it to yout liking. 

Cut the image out and hold it up for good measure! Then, lay the pumpkin on its side and lightly trace in pen. If you goof up any lines, you can paint over it! 

If you'd like to add a pattern, this is a good time to do it! Avoid the traced area so that you don't need to paint over it. I used a smattering of irregular dots because that's my jam, but I've seen everything from stripes, to chevron, to gingham, to florals, to chinoiserie patterns! When in doubt, solid looks lovely also ;) I recommend keeping it simple so that your baby is the star of the show. 

Once my pattern is dry, I filled in the pup, then painted the stem in my accent color (this took me two coats), and viola! Happy HalloWeenie, HalloChihuahua, HalloFrenchie, HalloPittie, or whomever you're painting this year ;) Stay snug and PLEASE send me pictures!!


Princess Kate


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