The right pumpkin painting ideas can turn your Halloween into a scary spectacle, or a chic setup that complements your interior design scheme.
Pumpkin carving tends to get all the fanfare around October 31st, but there are many benefits to painting pumpkins. For one, you don’t have to clean the inside of the pumpkin, so there’s less mess. Plus, uncarved pumpkins last longer, so you can enjoy the fruits of your labor for longer. Paint also offers a better chance to get creative with your Halloween decorating ideas, as the options for color and pattern are endless.
While the key to a beautifully painted pumpkin is the right inspiration, as when considering pumpkin carving ideas, it’s also about choosing the right pumpkin, something that won’t rot before the trick-or-treaters arrive.
“Avoid supermarket pumpkins and find a local farm, the pumpkins tend to be much bigger from farms,” says pumpkin artist Jamie Jones (opens in new tab). “And always try to get a pumpkin with a long firm stem, a soft stem is a sign that the pumpkin is starting to rot or has a fungal infection and won’t last very long.”
It is equally important to clean your pumpkin before painting, which can be done with soapy water and a sponge.
Once your pumpkin is prepped, it’s time to get out the paintbrush for some of our favorite easy pumpkin ideas without carving.
Pumpkin painting ideas
“Painting pumpkins is one of the easiest and most satisfying Halloween craft ideas,” says Jo Bailey, stylist and Homes & Gardens‘ Deputy Editor. “Whether your pumpkin is part of your Halloween porch decor, or sits at your Halloween table, these ideas will help you create a vision for your squash.”
1. Paint black and white stripes
If you prefer your outdoor Halloween decor to be on the subdued side, it doesn’t get more chic or classic than black and white stripes. To get this look, paint alternating colors between the ribs of the pumpkins, and finish off with gold spray paint on the stem, and a coat of high gloss varnish.
Do you want to enjoy your hard work for years to come? Paint ceramic or foam pumpkins instead. Choose a color scheme that will match your fall planter ideas for a perfectly coordinated look.
When should you put out your pumpkins? “Received wisdom is that pumpkins kept outside can last a good few months,” says Rachel Crow, Homes & Gardens‘ Gardens Editor. “So you can really put pumpkins out as fall begins, and decorate them for Halloween in the days leading up to the celebrations.”
2. Go for a coastal look
If you’re keeping your pumpkins indoors, paint them to match your decor. If it’s a coastal look you’re after, for example, try different shades of blue, white and copper. If your style is more modern, paint them in a metallic shade, or go for a monochrome look with all black.
“Pumpkins make fantastic Halloween table decorations,” says Jo Bailey. ‘However, they don’t last much more than a week to a few days indoors. Leave them in a heated room incessantly and you’ll soon be looking for ways to get rid of fruit flies. What I tend to do is leave mine on my porch and then bring it in when I entertain to decorate the house.’
3. Paint on a cobweb
For a detailed design, skip the paintbrush and grab a paint pen instead. Copy the spiderweb look, above, by drawing a line halfway along each ridge in the pumpkin, then connecting the ridge with a series of curved lines.
You can buy acrylic pumpkin paint pens from Amazon (opens in new tab).
It doesn’t get much easier than these metallic painted pumpkins. All it takes to create this sophisticated, glittery look is a can of spray paint (or two if you want to mix the metallic colors).
“I love it as a way to elevate Halloween decor. It’s subtle, but still festive,’ says Sarah Spiteri, Homes & Gardens‘ Editorial director. ‘To do it yourself, tip your pumpkin on its side and spray paint the exposed areas. When the first side is dry, turn it over and spray the other side.’
Be sure to spray paint outside, in a well-ventilated area.
5. Try an ombre look
Blogger and stylist Dana Fox (opens in new tab) used a common household item – nail polish – to transform this pumpkin into a chic centerpiece (or the perfect porch accent to complement Halloween door decor).
Fox started by painting the entire pumpkin with white latex paint, then used the polish to add an abstract gray design to the bottom.
6. Stencil your pumpkins
For more intricate patterns, like this vine look, or the Chinoiserie styles that have been popular on social media, grab a stencil.
Adhere the stencil to your pumpkin and use a foam brush to fill in the design with paint. Move the stencil around the pumpkin until it’s a pattern to your liking (just make sure the paint is dry before moving the stencil or you’ll end up with a mess).
Amazon sells a large variety of pumpkin stencils (opens in new tab)from contemporary and comical to more elegant, like the one above.
7. Create a creepy crawler
For a creative yet whimsical painted pumpkin idea, try turning your pumpkins into spiders. ‘To get the look, use a stencil to trace two eyes onto your pumpkin (or draw them freehand, if you’re artistic). Then paint your entire pumpkin and trunk black, except for the eyes,’ says Jennifer Ebert, Homes & Gardens‘ Deputy Editor (Digital).
‘When the black paint dries, paint the eyes white and add a black dot for the iris. Spray it with a coat of gloss varnish to make the design last longer.
‘Lastly, hot glue or staple eight giant pipe cleaners (you can get black pipe cleaners on Amazon (opens in new tab)) to the sides of the pumpkin to act as legs.’
8. Be inspired by the day of the dead
Instead of Halloween, check out Dia de los Muertosor the Day of the Dead, for inspiration. Dia de los Muertos takes place November 1-2, and is celebrated with colorful skulls, like the design above, which make the perfect muse for a painted Jack-o-lantern.
9. Get cozy with a plaid pumpkin
We love this look for a smart interior. To create a buffalo check pumpkin, start with one shade of white paint and one shade of blue. Then blend the two colors together to create a third shade, which you will use as the ‘overlapping’ areas of your check (the medium shade of blue, above).
Then draw a grid on your pumpkin and fill in accordingly.
10. Decoupage your pumpkins
For another pumpkin painting idea that isn’t exactly paint but achieves a similar effect, try decoupage. With a little decoupage glue, plus fabric scraps, printed flowers, stickers or decals, you can create a unique design. Amazon’s Basic Decoupage Kit (opens in new tab) will be helpful in getting you started.
What paint should you use on pumpkins?
The best paint for pumpkins will stay put whether they are indoors or outdoors.
“I always choose an acrylic paint for craft projects like painting pumpkins,” says Pippa Blenkinsop, Homes and Gardens’ stylist. “It’s easy to work with and it lasts.”
However, if you’re going for all-over color, grab the spray paint. It’s faster, and it won’t leave brush strokes.
How do you prepare pumpkins for painting?
To ensure that your paint sticks to your pumpkin, it is important to prepare it first. To do this, wipe them with a cloth and some soapy water. Scrub any stubborn dirt or mud with a stiff cleaning brush or an old toothbrush, then wipe again and pat dry. Preserving a pumpkin in vinegar first is a good way to extend its life.