By Anthony Scott
Killeen Daily Herald
"It's B.Y.O.P.," said Samra Thompson, a Killeen Civic Art Guild trustee. "Bring your own pumpkin."
Thompson was one of about three dozen who gathered at the Killeen Civic Center Art Guild Monday night for its annual Pumpkin Carving Contest.
The attendees were made up of all age groups, with little elbow room to spare as participants got their arms covered in stringy pumpkin goo as they carried out their own artistic vision for their pumpkins, large and small.
"A lot of times we see people once a year and that's tonight," Thompson said. "It's one of the biggest meeting events."
Thompson notes that many of the attendees at the art guild are in fact artists from a variety of different backgrounds. Some of the group's members include woodcarvers, mosaic artists, mixed-media artists, oil painters, acrylic painters, print makers and photographers.
"We challenge each other to try new things," Thompson said.
Several participants showed up and used paper guides, while most were content drawing a pattern on the face of the pumpkin before attempting to carve it. One even used toothpicks to stick foods onto a spaghetti squash to make out a face. The more daring artists used their tools and carved freehand.
One of those was Jim Mortimer, a woodcarver who has been coming to the meetings about four years. With him, he brought a set of weathered tools he used to meticulously etch the face of a an old hobo he said he once carved on wood.
Mortimer used a v-gauge, a tool with a small v-cutting area. Several others used similar gauges on their pumpkins.
"It makes it a lot easier," he said. "It's like cheating."
Meeting monthly, the guild schedules a number of demonstrations, speakers and activities every third Monday. The guild is also currently hosting an art competition at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center, having put out artwork Saturday. Thompson said it will be available for viewing until Dec. 11.
"We see people on pumpkin carving night that we don't see the whole year," Thompson said. "You don't have to be an artist to carve a pumpkin."
Contact Anthony Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7568. Follow him on Twitter at KDHcity.