How To Paint Halloween Pumpkins 

with Riley Sheehey

Riley is wearing the Jamey Sweater, Watson Jeans and Delia Heels



Meet: Riley Sheehey


There’s something about Riley. The Virginia-based creative is equal parts posh and clever—painting everything from seashells adorned with wallpaper florals to whimsical watercolors of convertible driving giraffes on her artful instagram feed


With Halloween around the corner and all of the colorful and rich patterns in our fall collection, we knew it was time for a collaboration with the paintbrush extraordinaire. Riley explored our newest patterns and expertly painted three pumpkins in J.McLaughlin-inspired prints—rich autumnal paisleys, dreamy snow leopard spots, and more. 


And with that, an at-home Trick or Chic Paint Off, our collaborative at-home challenge through the month of October where we are asking you to share your own painted pumpkin with us on instagram, more details below.


But first, a bit more about Riley. 


1. Have you always loved art?

 I’ve loved art for as long as I can remember! My mom taught us a lot about famous artists/art movements and took us on “field trips” to art museums as we were growing up. When I went to college, I knew I wanted to do something art-related, and decided to study art education. 


2. How did you start your painting career and transition it to full-time?

After graduation, I got a job teaching art at a local elementary school. I started selling some of my artwork over my summer break from teaching in 2014, and over the next three years, my business continued to grow through the support of family/friends, word of mouth, and social media. I went full-time as an artist in June 2017 (I cannot believe it’s been over three years- time flies!)


Pumpkin in our Ashler Print Hand Painted by Riley with our Reed Scarf


3. Favorite color: Blush pink! 


4. Style Icon: My grandmother


5. Artists you admire: 

So many! Although I LOVE fine art, I have always been drawn to illustration (probably because I love to read). One of my favorite artists is Ludwig Bemelmans, the illustrator behind the children's book “Madeline.” I also love Jacqueline Duhême- a friend gave me her book “Mrs. Kennedy Goes Abroad” a few years ago, and I fell in love with the illustration style. I also love any illustrations by Sir Quentin Blake- he illustrated all of Roald Dahl’s books. 



6. If you could wallpaper your house in one of your prints, which would it be? 

I love this question! This is something I have been thinking a lot about lately, as wallpaper is something that I really want to explore in the coming year. That said- I haven’t designed it yet, but once it happens, I hope my husband is ready to help me hang it! 


7. What’s been inspiring you creatively the most lately? 

Kindness. I know this probably sounds super corny, but I feel like this has been a tough year in so many different ways for so many different people, and recognizing different moments of people being good to one another (on social media and in real life) has helped me to think more positively, and has inspired me to make things that will hopefully help other people to feel the same.

8. We know you often paint in watercolors, but we've noticed you exploring other mediums and surfaces, from seashells to wine glasses. What are you dreaming up next?

Having more time at home over these past few months has opened my mind to all sorts of new possibilities for surface to paint (I have been telling my dog she better watch out, or she is next). This is going to be such a busy fall/winter, and I am so grateful for the different projects I have coming up! I have a tabletop collaboration coming up later this month/in early November that I’ve been working on since this summer, and so I am really excited to be able to share details about that, and a few more things closer to the holidays that I am looking forward to. 



9. A little birdie told us you have a secret’ish account, @picturesisawandloved. Any hidden gem Instagrams that you love? 

Too many to name them all, but some of my current favorites are @sisterparishdesign, @leahoconnelldesign, @carolinairving_and_daughters, and @matildagoad


10. Favorite part about autumn?

We host a pumpkin beer tasting every year, and even though this year’s will be much smaller than usual, it is always one of my favorite parts about fall! 



11. Favorite Fall Styles From J.McLaughlin

I just picked up the Watson Velvet Jeans in Olive and the Delia Suede Kitten Heels. I love the color of the jeans- they’re comfortable enough to wear while I’m working from home during the day, but the fabric makes them feel dressy enough to wear out at night. The shoes are just cute and classic and comfortable - I lost my tolerance for uncomfortable footwear a long, long time ago, and these feel great! 


 How To Hand Paint a Pumpkin with Riley Sheehey


The Materials: 

  • Pumpkins 
  • Paint
    • For real pumpkins, Riley suggests using white acrylic craft paint or gesso for priming the pumpkin 
    • Then, on both the real or fake pumpkin, paint your design with acrylic or craft paint 
  • Brushes: 
    • A flat 1” foam brush for priming or painting a first solid coat 
    • Any round tip acrylic or mixed-media paint brushes will work for painting your patterns and designs 


Tips from Riley

  • If you are painting a real pumpkin, you will want to prime your pumpkin with an initial all-over coat of either white paint or acrylic gesso. 
  • I usually wait 1-2 hours between coats!
  • Be sure to have damp paper towels nearby- if you make a mistake, as long as the paint is still wet, you should be able to wipe it off. 
  • If you’re doing this with kids (or you are, like me, a messy adult!) make sure they/you wear smocks- once acrylic paint dries, it doesn’t wash off! 

Now onto the fun part, let the painting begin! We hope you will join our #TrickOrChicChallenge on Instagram this October and share your painted pumpkins with us by tagging @JMcLaughlin and @cestriley. We can not wait to see what you create!