How to Paint Pumpkins

An Easy DIY Using Chalky Finish Paint

Hand dipping mini pumpkin

The Spruce

Halloween is one of our favorite holidays for a lot of reasons—from the costumes and candy to the many opportunities for a DIY project. While carving jack-o-lanterns is a time-honored tradition, simple no-carve pumpkin ideas have been growing in popularity each year. Unlike carved pumpkins, which can mold or start to smell quickly, decorative no-carve pumpkins can help you stay festive all season long. One of the easiest (and prettiest) ways to decorate your pumpkins without breaking out the knives is painting them with a chalky finish paint. While you can use acrylic or spray paint, we prefer the matte coverage that a chalky finish paint provides—plus, it's super versatile and can be used to create a variety of different techniques and finishes.

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Watch Now: 3 Chalky Finish Painted Pumpkin Projects

We have three painting methods we love, all of which you can also see in action (and learn to master yourself) in our “One Thing” video. Whether you’re after funky patterns, dipped lines, or abstract splatters, we have you (and your pumpkins) covered.

Patterned Pumpkins

While this modern, abstract pattern makes a bold statement, it's so simple to execute that even the least artistic DIY-er can get the job done. With just a few quick steps, you can score stunning pumpkins perfect for any room in your home.

Patterned pumpkins on white background
The Spruce 

What You'll Need

Supplies

  1. Gather Materials

    Bowls of paint by pumpkins and paintbrushes
     The Spruce 

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

  2. Prepare Pumpkins and Choose Paint

    This project requires at least two paint colors—we opted for black and white to achieve a more modern look, but you could use whatever shades catch your eye. Select any size pumpkin you like (we recommend using a sugar pumpkin or larger version to really show off the pattern), then use a damp cloth or paper towel to wipe down the exterior, taking care to remove any dirt. Pat dry.

  3. Paint a Base Coat

    Hands painting a pumpkin black
    The Spruce  

    Select your base color (we went with black to allow the pattern to pop), then paint your pumpkin using your 3-inch paintbrush, covering it completely. Allow to dry for at least an hour. Once the finish appears matte and free of any wet spots, you can add a second coat for extra coverage or go straight to painting on your pattern.

  4. Paint a Pattern

    Hand painting pumpkin
    The Spruce  

    Using your 1-inch brush and a lighter color, add short brushstrokes (about an inch long) all over the pumpkin until completely covered. Once you've mastered this design, feel free to switch it up; try patterns featuring thin dashes, stars, polka dots, or squiggles.

  5. Style and Enjoy

    Two patterned pumpkins
    The Spruce  

    Style your painted masterpiece alongside other favorite seasonal decorations on your front porch, dining table, or beside your fireplace. The bold pattern is sure to make your home stand out in all the right ways.

Dipped Pumpkins

Give mini pumpkins a modern makeover with a quick and easy painting technique that will lend a fresh new look to your seasonal gourds.

Painted pumpkins on white background
The Spruce  

What You'll Need

Supplies

  1. Gather Materials

    Dipped pumpkin supplies
    The Spruce.

    Collect your supplies and cover your workspace with a drop cloth or craft paper to prevent paint from staining anything (and make cleanup a breeze!).

  2. Prepare Pumpkins and Choose Paint

    Pick out your mini pumpkins, taking care to choose gourds with a strong, intact stem to allow for easier dipping. Wipe down the exterior with a damp paper towel or cloth to remove any dirt. Next, choose your paint colors—we selected brighter hues for a fresh take on the traditional black and orange Halloween palette, but you can use any colors you like.

  3. Pour Paint Into Bowls and Begin Dipping

    Hand dipping pumpkins
     The Spruce 

    Pour each of your chosen hues into a separate bowl, making sure to use enough paint to cover the pumpkins when dipped. Holding each pumpkin by its stem, dip them into the bowls, covering to the desired amount (we like leaving the top half of the pumpkins exposed). Keep in mind, there are endless ways to experiment with your dipping technique for a unique look. Dip just the bottom quarter of your pumpkin for a small dose of color or submerge it three-quarters of the way up for a bolder look. Another variation: Dip the pumpkin on a diagonal for an extra graphic take—you can even coat your pumpkins twice as a way to layer colors.

    Lift by the stem to remove from the bowl and allow excess paint to drip off.

  4. Leave Pumpkins to Dry

    Painted pumpkins sitting on a rack
     The Spruce 

    Place a piece of wax paper underneath your drying rack. After removing from the paint, set each pumpkin on the rack to dry for at least an hour. If you would like to go back for a second coat of dipping, do so once the first has dried.

  5. Style and Enjoy

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

    mini pumpkins on display
     The Spruce

Tip

This tutorial will help you get started, but don't be afraid to flex your creative muscles! Experiment with different paint colors or go ombre with multiple shades of one hue. Want to really take it to the next level? Add festive words like "boo" or "trick or treat" using paint or marker.

Splatter Paint Pumpkins

Looking to create an especially bold display of pumpkins this fall? Unleash your inner Jackson Pollock with a splatter paint technique that really stands out.

Hand by splatter painted pumpkin
 The Spruce 

What You'll Need

Supplies

  1. Gather Materials

    Supplies for splatter painting pumpkins
     The Spruce 

    Collect all the materials listed above, then cover the surface of your workspace to protect it from splatters and drips.

  2. Prepare Pumpkins and Choose Paint

    Pick out two colors; one will serve as the base for the entire pumpkin and one will be the color you splatter. Clean your pumpkins with a damp cloth to make sure they're free of dirt. Pat dry.

  3. Paint a Base Coat

    Using a 3-inch paintbrush, 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 apply a second coat if necessary.

  4. Water Down the Paint

    Before creating your artsy splatters, you'll need to modify the consistency of your second color to make it easier to work with. Start by diluting your shade with roughly a tablespoon or two of water, gradually adding more until the consistency is thinned but not too watery.

    Set your pumpkin out on wax paper or newspaper. This project is about to get messy, so set up in a location that you don't care too much about, like a garage. If your options are limited, place your pumpkin inside a large cardboard box, which can keep you from making a major mess.

  5. Splatter the Pumpkin

    Hands splatter painting a pumpkin
     The Spruce 

    Dip your paintbrush in the watered-down color, then repeatedly flick your wrist while holding the paintbrush to cover the pumpkin in graphic speckles. Once you're satisfied with your coverage (the amount of splatters is up to you), allow your pumpkin to dry for at least an hour.

  6. Style and Display

    Use these artsy pumpkins to inject some high-end style into your typical Halloween decor. For a spooky twist, use red paint as the splatter to create a bone-chilling effect.

    White splatter painted pumpkin
     The Spruce