Painting Fall Gourds

Artist Elida Field showed us how to painting gourds for fall decorations!

Materials List:
~Paint brushes (variable sizes and shapes)
~Throw away paper palette or styrofoam plate
~Acrylic Paints (varies depending on the color scheme...see below)
(I used Basics acrylics, Gallery acrylics, and Liquitex metallics all found at Art
For warm colored tones:
cadmium red (medium red), cadmium yellow (medium yellow), alizarin crimson,
burnt sienna or raw sienna, and metallic gold (bronze, gold, any metallic will
For cool tones:
pthalo blue or windsor blue, cadmium yellow (medium yellow), and white. The
combination of pthalo blue and white will make a torquiose. Add metalic silver or
gold for that extra sparkle.
~Dried Gourds
~Varnish or Finishing Spray (Gloss or High Gloss preferred).
How to Paint Holiday Gourds:
1. The first part of this process is getting your dried gourds. Where do you get
gourds or how do you dry your own?
Gourds are readily available here in the N.W., especially during the Fall. Most
local farms will have dried gourds to purchase. For the instant gratification
type of gal/guy (that’s me) this is definitely the way to go. I visited Bi-Zi
(pronounced “busy”) Farms in Vancouver, WA. I took the kids and made a fun
trip out of it, letting them pick their favorite shapes and sizes as they dug
through the giant bin. You can certainly dry your own gourds, but it will take
about 6 months before you can paint them (see special notes below on drying
gourds yourself).
2.Wash your gourds and scrub with bleach or soap.
3. Dry them and put them on a hard surface.
4. Lay out all of your paints and flip the gourd upside down working from bottom
to the top. I like the look of a heavier base color that fades into a lighter color
as you move up. Use a substantial brush (1/2” to an 1inch)
5. For the warm colors start with your alizarin crimson and paint the whole base
up to the middle of the gourd. Then w/out rinsing your brush dip right into
your cadmium red and overlap the line where you stopped your crimson. Do
the same thing with your red working your way up the gourd. Your last color is
yellow, but again you are working the paint back and forth horizontally over
the line and blending the colors seamlessly. You can add your metallic color in
anytime. If you want more of an iridescent look, wait until the paint has dried
and then thin out the metallic color with water and just wash over the top of
the entire thing.
6. Once your paint has dried completely take the gourd by the stem outside for
the final finish of varnish or high gloss spray all over it. You can then hang
them by the stem until completely dried or put them carefully upside down into
a jar.
7. Enjoy! Remember the decorating rule of putting arrangements together in odd
numbers. Either do one grandiose gourd or go with 3 to 5 varied ones, but
don’t settle for 2 or 4! I have a set of three gourds that I take out annually for
decorating the Fall and Winter. They make for a dramatic centerpiece on a
dining room table, coffee table, side table etc.
*This is a project that the kids can do as well, and if you give them limited
colors and a color scheme that you want, that will help in giving some
decorating cohesion and likeness. However, you can always go the other
extreme and just let them pick out their colors and go to town. Either way, it’s
fun and you’ll end up with some interesting decorated pieces.

How to dry your own gourds:
There are a lot of different viewpoints, and even websites available to explain
different techniques as to how you dry your own gourds. I thought I’d ask the
farmers at Bi-Zi Farms, and found it interesting that they do ABSOLUTELY
NOTHING other than leaving them out in the garden until Spring! Don’t bring the
gourds indoors, just cut them off of the stem and then throw them in a compost
pile, or your garden until the Spring. Eventually, they will slough off the outside
skin and dry from the inside out. You’ll know they are ready to paint, when you
can shake them and hear the little seeds rattling around.


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