Even for a cartoon raccoon, I didn't feel that I could achieve a realistic enough look for the fur on the torso using paint. So instead, I used a piece of gray felt as an underlayment, upon which I would later glue-gun Spanish moss in two different colors as a fur substitute.
Attaching the felt to the hard-shell gourd using a glue gun is a bit trickier than it may at first appear. Remember, in working with a gourd, you're not working with an even surface; so there will be some wrinkling. The felt I used was a 9"x12" rectangle. I cut it up into two rectangles, each 9"x6". I applied the two pieces separately.
It's helpful to clip the felt onto the gourd, to hold it in place temporarily. If you don't have larger clips, even paper clips will work. Fortunately, you don't have to secure every square inch of the felt to the gourd with glue (although it helps to be thorough with the perimeter, at least). I found it best to glue down one end, remove the clips, fold the felt back onto itself, then slowly unroll the felt, glue-gunning it down as I went along. Trim off the excess felt (and save it) hanging over the edges of the gourd. I repeated the process with the second piece of felt, at which point I had the bulk of the torso covered. I did, however, leave the bottom of the gourd uncovered, to make room for the head, which still needs to be glued on.
If you're new to glue guns, be forewarned: the hot glue dries fast! Don't try to cover too big an area all at once, or you'll be left with hardened pieces of glue, to which the felt won't stick properly.
I overlapped my two pieces of felt, gluing felt to felt where they met. Don't be fussy about the seam: it will be covered later by the Spanish moss. Likewise, despite the annoyance caused by the felt wrinkling, you really don't have to be too fussy about eliminating wrinkles, as the Spanish moss will hide these, too. Where the wrinkling is simply intolerable, cut into the wrinkle with scissors, and attach each half of the wrinkle to the gourd, separately, using the glue gun.
On Page 8, we'll glue-gun the raccoon head to our hard-shell gourd....