I started making pumpkins with painted clay faces back in 1991. In several of those twenty-some years, I made as many as six for friends and colleagues. I thought faces on inanimate objects would be an interesting way to make a photo illustration. My first was an apple with a surprised look as it fell from a tree. Pumpkins were a natural follow-up; I made them at Halloween for clients and for the bar at the restaurant I cooked for. Then Photoshop happened. Continuing to try to use the illustration idea in a world suddenly filled with easy digital perfection seemed silly, but the idea of a realistic pumpkin was still a lot of fun. The pumpkins rot away, leaving their painted clay faces. I think the impermanence of the piece adds to the fun. This is my return after several years of being too busy and I thought to take a few snapshots during the process. Not many. I hate taking pictures. But making the pumpkins is a lot of fun. I think I’ll enter this one in the Library’s pumpkin carving contest.
The process is straightforward: I push modeling clay onto a pumpkin and sculpt it into the shape I want. The clay gets finished with acrylic paint. Pretty simple. The faces have evolved, of course. I paint the eyes and teeth naturally for no reason other than I think they look good that way. They get finished with acrylic gloss medium. Everything else is painted with orange that’s mixed to match the pumpkin.