How to Paint Pumpkins

An Easy DIY Using Chalky Finish Paint

Hand dipping mini pumpkin

The Spruce

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 20 mins - 1 hr
  • Total Time: 2 - 3 hrs
  • Skill Level: Kid-friendly

Halloween is a favorite holiday 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 quickly start to smell, 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, the matte coverage that a chalky finish paint provides is a quite attractive option—plus, it's super versatile and can be used to create a variety of different techniques and finishes.

There are three useful painting methods for this project. Whether you’re after funky patterns, dipped lines, or abstract splatters, we have you (and your pumpkins) covered. Here's a look at how to use each method.

Preparation

For this project you'll learn how to make patterned, dipped, and splattered paint pumpkins. Preparing the workspace for each will be quite similar. Use a drop cloth, kraft paper, or newspaper to cover the table where you'll work. If you're making dipped pumpkins, set the drying rack over a piece of wax paper.

Gather the supplies listed here. Choose your pumpkins, wipe them down with a damp paper towel to remove dirt and debris, and pat them dry.

For patterned and splattered paint pumpkins, you'll need at least two paint colors. For mini pumpkins, you can go with one color for a minimalist look or numerous colors for a cacophony of visual delight. Gather your paints before sitting down to create.

Tip

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.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Chalky finish paint in two colors for patterned pumpkins (We used The Spruce Best Home chalky finish paint in Elevated Black and White Bead Board)
  • Chalky finish paint in several colors for dipped pumpkins (We chose The Spruce Best Home chalky finish paint in Lemon Cream, Thrift Finds, and Coral Lava)
  • Chalky finish paint in two colors for splatter paint pumpkins (We used The Spruce Best Home chalky finish paint in White Bead Board and Coral Lava)
  • Wax paper
  • Drop cloth, kraft paper, or newspaper
  • 1-inch and 3-inch paintbrushes
  • Small bowls (for dipped pumpkins)
  • Drying rack (for dipped pumpkins)
  • Large cardboard box for splattered pumpkins (optional)

Materials

  • Pumpkins
  • Mini pumpkins (for dipped pumpkins)

Instructions

4:36

Watch Now: 3 Chalky Finish Painted Pumpkin Projects

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.

  1. Paint a Base Coat

    Select your base color, then paint your pumpkin using your 3-inch paintbrush, covering it completely. Allow drying 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.

    Pumpkin painted with black base coat

    The Spruce

  2. Paint a Pattern

    Using your 1-inch brush and a lighter color, add short brushstrokes (about 1-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. Give your pumpkins plenty of time to dry.

    Pumpkin with black base coat and white painted pattern on top

    The Spruce

Tip

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.

Patterned pumpkins on white background
The Spruce 

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.

  1. Pour Paint Into Bowls and Begin Dipping

    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.

    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.

    Small pumpkins dipped in green, yellow and pink paint from bowls

    The Spruce

  2. Leave Pumpkins to Dry

    After removing from the paint, set each pumpkin on the drying 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 layer has dried.

    Pumpkins dipped in paint sitting on metal try to dry

    The Spruce

Tip

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

Painted pumpkins on white background
The Spruce  

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.

  1. 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.

    Pumpkin painted with white base coat for splattering

    The Spruce

  2. 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.

    Pumpkin painted with white base coat air drying next to bowl of pink paint

    The Spruce

  3. Splatter the Pumpkin

    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.

    White painted pumpkin splattered with pink paint by brush

    The Spruce

Tip

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.