How to Paint Pumpkins

An Easy DIY Using Chalky Finish Paint

Hand dipping mini pumpkin

The Spruce

Halloween is one of our favorite holidays: costumes, candy and, of course, plenty of opportunities to DIY. While carving jack-o-lanterns is a time honored tradition, no-carve pumpkins have been growing in popularity—and for good reason. Carved pumpkins have a short shelf life before they start to wither, and if you're hoping to display them inside, there's that smell to contend with. One of our favorite no-carve ideas? Painting with chalky finish paint! While you can paint with acrylic or spray paint, we love the great coverage that chalky finish paint provides. The paint is also quite versatile, and can be watered down for different techniques and finishes.

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Watch Now: 3 Chalky Finish Painted Pumpkin Projects

We have three methods we love, all of which our “One Thing” video will teach you how to master. Whether you’re looking for clean dipped lines, funky patterns, or abstract splatters—we have you covered.

Patterned Pumpkins

While this modern, abstract pattern makes a big statement, it's so simple to execute that even the least artistic among us can get the job done. With just a few supplies, you'll have stunning artistic pumpkins to place all around your home.

Patterned pumpkins on white background

What You'll Need

Supplies

Tools

  • Drop cloth, kraft paper, or newspaper
  • Paintbrushes, 1-inch and 3-inch
  1. Gather the Materials

    Bowls of paint by pumpkins and paintbrushes

    Cover your workspace with a drop cloth or kraft paper and get your tools and materials ready. For this project we used a 3-inch and a 1-inch paint brush, but you can work with what you have! Be creative and have fun.

  2. Prepare Your Pumpkins and Choose Paint

    This particular project requires at least two paint colors. We opted for black and white for a more modern look, but you could use any colors that catch your eye. Choose any size pumpkin you like, but we recommend using a sugar pumpkin or larger to really show off the details of the pattern. Use a damp cloth or paper towel to wipe down your pumpkin, taking care to remove any dirt.

  3. Paint a Base Coat

    Hands painting a pumpkin black

    Select your base color. We chose black in order to really make the pattern pop. Using your 3-inch paint brush, paint the pumpkin and then allow it to dry for at least an hour. Once the finish is matte and free of any wet spots, you can paint a second coat or move on to your pattern.

  4. Paint Your Pattern

    Hand painting pumpkin

    Take a 1-inch brush and dip it in the second color. For the brushstroke pattern featured in our video, set the tip of your brush on the pumpkin and pull down about an inch, then remove your brush. Make rows of these little brush stroke patterns until your pumpkin is completely covered.

    Once you've mastered these simple brushstrokes, feel free to switch it up. Try patterns featuring thin dashes, stars, polka dots, or squiggles.

  5. Style and Enjoy

    Two patterned pumpkins

Style your painted masterpiece alongside of your other favorite seasonal decorations. The bold pattern will make your mantel or doorstep stand out from everyone else's.

Dipped Pumpkins

Give your mini pumpkins a modern makeover! This paint dip technique is a quick and easy way to give your pumpkins a fresh new look.

Painted pumpkins on white background

What You'll Need

Supplies

  • Mini pumpkins
  • Chalky finish paint in two to four colors (We chose The Spruce Best Home chalky-finish paint in Lemon Cream, Thrift Finds, and Coral Lava)
  • Bowls
  • Wax paper

Tools

  • Drop cloth, kraft paper, or newspaper
  • Drying rack
  1. Gather Materials

    Dipped pumpkin supplies

    Gather your materials and cover your workspace area to prevent paint from staining anything. Use a drop cloth, newspaper, kraft paper, or old fabric to protect the surface you're working on. This also makes for easy clean up!

  2. Prepare Pumpkins and Choose Paint

    Pick out your mini pumpkins. Choose pumpkins with strong, intact stems for easy dipping. Wipe them down with a damp paper towel or cloth, taking care to remove any dirt or debris. Next, choose your paint colors. For this project, we selected brighter hues for a fresh take on traditional Halloween palette, but you can use any colors you like.

  3. Pour Paint Into Bowls and Begin Dipping

    Hand dipping pumpkins

    Pour out your paint into bowls. Make sure you give yourself enough paint to cover your pumpkin when you submerge it. Once you have your paint ready to go, grab a pumpkin by its stem and dip it into one of the colors. Remove from bowl and let excess paint drip off before moving pumpkins to the drying rack.

  4. Experiment With Dips

    There are endless ways you can dip. Cover your pumpkin one-fourth of the way for a small splash of color or dip half, or submerge it three-quarters of the way for a bolder look. Dip the pumpkin on its side for a vertical stripe or go bottom first. Get creative and see which combos you like best. You may dip each pumpkin twice if needed for additional coverage, or to layer colors.

  5. Leave Pumpkins to Dry

    Painted pumpkins sitting on a rack

    Place a piece of wax paper underneath of your cookie drying rack. Set each pumpkin upon the rack after dipping. Allow your pumpkins to dry for at least an hour. If you decided not to double-dip the first round and would like to go back for a second coat, do so once the first one has dried.

  6. Style and Enjoy

Group a bunch of these dipped beauties together for a colorful collection perfect for sitting atop any mantel or cascading down a staircase.

mini pumpkins on display
 The Spruce

Tip

The above tutorial will help you get started, but the only limit is your imagination! Try different colors or go ombre with one specific hue. If you'd like to really take it to the next level you can add little words like "boo" or "trick or treat" using paint or marker or you can paint patterns on top.

Splatter Paint Pumpkins

Looking to create a bold display of pumpkins this fall? Unleash your inner Pollack and use a splatter paint technique to make your pumpkins that really stand out. Keep it minimalist with neutrals or go over-the-top with an assortment of bright colors.

Hand by splatter painted pumpkin

What You'll Need

Supplies

Tools

  • Paintbrushes, 1-inch and 3-inch
  • Wax paper, kraft paper, or newspaper
  1. Gather Materials

    Supplies for splatter painting pumpkins

    Collect all needed materials, then cover your workspace to protect it from errant splatters and drips. We suggest using kraft paper, newspaper, or even using a box as your workspace to keep the mess contained.

  2. Prepare Pumpkins and Choose Paint

    Pick out two colors; one will serve as the base color for the entire pumpkin and one will be the color you’ll splatter onto the pumpkin. Clean your pumpkins with a damp cloth and make sure they are free of dirt and debris.

  3. Paint Your Base Coat

    Grab your 3-inch brush and give your pumpkin its base coat. This is the color you'll be splattering on top of, so be sure to select a hue that will allow the paint to really stand out. Let dry for at least an hour then continue on to your splattering. If your pumpkin is in need of a second coat, do that first.

  4. Select and Modify Paint

    For this specific project, you’re going to need about a half cup of water for mixing into your paint. This creates a thinner consistency, making splattering much easier. It’s best to start with less, with roughly two tablespoons or so, and then add more if needed.

    This is one of the main reasons why we chose chalky finish paint for this project. Aside from its quick drying time and impressive durability, it's also an incredibly adaptable paint.

    Once you dilute your paint with water, set your pumpkin out on wax paper or newspaper. This project is going to get messy, so take time to prepare the space or choose a place that can get messy. If your options are limited, you can splatter paint your pumpkin in a box, which cuts down the risk of a major mess.

  5. Splatter Your Pumpkin

    Hands splatter painting a pumpkin

    Dip and saturate your paintbrush in the diluted color, then splatter away! Flick your wrist to cover the pumpkin as much as you’d like. Then leave to dry for at least an hour. Minimalists will love the idea of having a small collection of splatters on one part of the pumpkin and lovers of bright, bold decor will want colorful splatters everywhere.

  6. Style and Display

You can inject some style into your typical Halloween decorations with these pumpkins. If you're looking for a creepy, spooky twist, use red for the splatter paint part for a bone-chilling effect, perfect for any Halloween party.

White splatter painted pumpkin