How to paint pumpkins for Halloween – 5 steps to success

More of us want to know how to paint pumpkins to take our Halloween presentations to the next level – without necessarily pulling out the carving knife. Sure, a classic pumpkin lantern will always look the part on our favorite vacation, but if you’re anxious to branch out and try something new, paint might be your answer.

Easy and not too complicated, recreating different ideas and looks of painted pumpkins is a simple craft that the whole family can get involved in. Squashes have naturally original shapes, so even if you were to paint your own in just one block color, you would still end up with a killer result. No matter how you want to paint your pumpkins this year, there are just a few steps you can take to ensure you get professional results.

How to paint pumpkins

Whether you are creating a minimal or super spooky display this year, painting pumpkins will add more personality to your Halloween decorations. They could even complement the interior design of your home …

You will need:

  • Pumpkins
  • A garment
  • Hot water
  • Newspaper
  • Choice of paint (aerosol or not)
  • Paint brushes
  • Decorative additions of your choice: sequins, foliage etc.

Lauren Hoyal-Mitchell, Head of Brand and Design at Creative hobbies notes how “pumpkin carving is a classic when it comes to Halloween lore, but for keen artisans looking to add a spooky touch to their decor, you can still get creative with the paint.”

1. Prepare your pumpkin for painting

It won’t be as messy as when carving a pumpkin, however, you should still lay down newspaper to easily clean up the mess, especially if the kids are helping you!

You must first clean your pumpkin properly to remove dust, debris, and grains, as this could prevent the paint from sticking to the skin, resulting in less than professional results. To do this, simply take lukewarm water with a little dish soap and use your cloth to gently rub off the dirt. Don’t over-soak the pumpkin and then you’ll want to let your pumpkin dry completely.

Wash a pumpkin in lukewarm water

(Image credit: Rust-Oleum)

2. Start painting

“Once clean, you can start to let your imagination run wild!” Hoyal-Mitchell said.

we used Rust-Oleum Chalk Finish Furniture Paint for this DIY in the color Duck Egg. Start by simply painting your pumpkin for the effect you are looking for, there is no need to prime the surface.

Paint a pumpkin in duck egg blue

(Image credit: Rust-Oleum)

3. Let your pumpkin dry

If you are building on a design, whether or not you use spray paints, acrylic or water-based paint, be sure to let your first coat dry before using another color or finer detail. You should check the drying time on the paint you purchased.

4. Be creative

For the next step, you might want to spray another gourd or a dried gourd for an ombre effect. When using spray paint, be sure to do so in a well-ventilated area. Spray lightly, mist the areas you want to work on and strengthen the coverage.

For this DIY you want to use Rust-Oleum Chalky Finish Spray Paint in China Rose and you will only want to paint the bottom half of your gourd.

But you can use a thinner brush freehand or even cut out sponges to add simple patterns and textures.

Let your creations dry again.

Spray painting a pumpkin in white chalk paint

(Image credit: Rust-Oleum)

5. Add more decorative details

Then we used some glitter paint to add a little more spice to our pumpkins, but this is your chance to go to town with different pumpkin decorating ideas. Stripes and polka dots are pretty easy to add freehand or with a stencil, while if you want a more designer finish, grab a thin brush and see where your inner artist takes you.

Painting a pumpkin with glitter paint

(Image credit: Rust-Oleum)

How do you prepare a pumpkin for painting?

Hoyal-Mitchell Highlights “Preparation is key to making sure you finish your painting project and get a perfect presentation. First of all, you need to wash your pumpkin before you start your DIY. Use a rag, soap and water to help remove any dirt and give you a cleaner surface for your designs. ‘

What type of paint do you use on a pumpkin?

Hoyal-Mitchell says “For a fantastic finish to your spooky creation, it’s best to use acrylic paint instead of oil-based alternatives. Acrylic is a quick-drying option that can be easily wiped off if you have poorly rated hits or design disasters. ‘ For the above DIY we used Rust-Oleum’s water-based paint which is virtually odorless and sticks to almost any surface.

Can you paint directly on a pumpkin?

Once clean, yes you can. For best results, Hoyal-Mitchell says, “You will need to apply multiple coats of paint to make sure all areas are covered, and we recommend choosing a color with high opacity to achieve this. The design possibilities on a pumpkin are endless – whether you want to paint on a face, a spooky pattern, an abstract pattern, or a vinyl “Trick or Treat” slogan.

These trick-or-treaters are going to have a nice surprise.

* With special thanks to Rust-Oleum for their DIY.

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