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Midnight Pumpkins Art Project

Have you been wanting to do a Halloween (or fall) art project with your class but still want to incorporate some art elements? Are you wanting a Halloween bulletin board that is not just a cut and paste craft? I’ve got you covered.

We have been working on blending colors during art. We’ve blended different types of paints, pencil crayons, and oil pastels.

This project has students blending oil pastels (which was a review) and chalk pastels (the new part). It was messy but so worth it to see how engaged my students were.

Materials Needed (per student):

  • 1 or 2 sheets of white paper
  • 1 sheet of black construction paper
  • black permanent (sharpie) marker
  • oil pastels
  • chalk pastels
  • scissors
  • glue
  • lots of paper towel

Because this project has 2 distinct stages, we completed them over 2 art periods.

Day 1:

On the first day we completed the pumpkins.

On the white paper, guide students how to draw a simple pumpkin. They will need to draw 2 that are different sizes. 

We have done quite a few guided drawings, so my students drew directly with their sharpie markers. They kept drawing pumpkins until they had 2 that they liked.

The next step is coloring the pumpkins by blending different oil pastels. The colors used were white, yellow, and 2-3 (depending on your available colors) oranges. 

I always tell my students that it is better to use less oil pastel to start and add more later if needed. It is really hard to make the colors lighter if there is too much but it is easy to make them darker if there is not enough. 

Have students put a small section on white oil pastels at the top of the pumpkins and then about double the width of yellow. Using a straight line blending technique, students blend the colors. It is ok if the pastel goes out of the lines because the pumpkins will be cut out.

Next, we put a very small section of the darkest orange on the very bottom of the pumpkins and then divided the remainder of the pumpkin in half for each of the remaining orange shades. 

Students again blend, using straight line blending, the rest of the pumpkin. If the pumpkin turns out to have too much of one color, students can layer the oil pastels to blend more. 

Once students have the pumpkins completed to their liking, it is time to cut them out. I have students write their name on the back of each pumpkin WITH A PENCIL. They will likely want to use the oil pastels for this but trust me when I say….STOP them. This will make a huge mess if they stack their pumpkins. 

Day 2:

It’s now time to create the background. This is the real messy part!!!! 

Hand out the black construction paper and the chalk pastels. Don’t forget to give students paper towel to wipe their hands on. 

TIP: If you do not have a sink in your room where students can wash their hands between colors, have then blend each color with a different finger(s). 

Start by having students create the moon on one side of the paper. We started by putting a small white circle surrounded by a yellow ring. blend in a circular motion. Then add a SMALL orange ring on the outer edge of the moon and blend in a circular motion. 

When the moon is done, it is time to create the midnight sky. Using dark blue chalk pastels students will LIGHTLY draw the bottom edge of the horizon. Tell them not to draw a strong line as they will want to blend this out with the land later.

Using the blue, have students spread chalk pastel over the sky area, being careful when they get to the moon area. They will then blend, pushing hard in a circular motion, the sky. 

If the sky turns out to be too bright, add a very small amount of black to it and blend away. I usually add the black for them because black can easily wreck any pastel project and students tend to go overboard with it. 

Once students have the sky how they like it is time for the land. We follow the same process as the sky but with green colors. 

After students have the chalk pastel on the land blended, have them use oil pastels to add grass blades to give some texture. We used 2 shades of green and a yellow. I tell them, the lighter the color the fewer blades of grass to have. 

Now it is time to glue the pumpkins on. The smaller pumpkins go closest to the moon. If they were furthest from the moon in real life, the bigger pumpkin would block out all light shining on the little pumpkin and you wouldn’t be able to see it at night. 

The final touch was, signing the art with a white pencil crayon.

Embrace the mess and have fun !

To help set the stage and to look at the shape of pumpkins, the day before the art lesson I read my students Big Pumpkin by Erica Silverman (affil. link) and we looked at a real pumpkin. 


This helped with my students being able to visualize the shape when drawing.


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