Painting pumpkins is a fun and creative project for art lovers everywhere! Pumpkins are such a staple of the fall season, and are basically essential for both Halloween and Thanksgiving, two of the biggest holidays of the year.
Not only do pumpkins make amazing foods, beautiful fixtures, and spooky Halloween decor, but they’re also great canvases for beautiful works of art. At Minnetonka Farms, we know how to create delicious snacks from apples (like dehydrated apples) from our apple orchards, but, for many reasons, pumpkins are better surfaces for paint projects.
We wanted to dive in and lay out a few ideas for painting pumpkins, including the best types of pumpkins to paint, what kinds of paints to use, the best time to paint them, and more! Read on to find out how to create your next pumpkin-painting masterpiece.
The Best Pumpkins to Paint
Although there are many different types of pumpkins, we’ve narrowed it down to the best five varieties that are the easiest to work with when it comes to painting.
Regardless of which type of pumpkin you choose, you’ll want to spray it with some kind of sealant so that the paint sticks to the surface and holds better. The important thing is to find a healthy, ripe (but not too ripe) pumpkin that is as smooth as possible.
Jack-be-little pumpkins can typically be found inside a home as they’re mainly used as adorable fall decorations. However, given their size, they’re perfect for small art projects as well.
These pumpkins are tiny (about 3 inches), making them perfect for children. Let your kids have a blast by painting shapes or cool designs that cover the whole pumpkin.
Jack-o’-Lanterns are probably what first comes to mind when you think of pumpkins, especially for Halloween as carving them has become a staple of the holiday.
While carving a Jack-o’-Lantern is certainly fun, they’re also great for painting as well given their medium-size and relatively low weight.
3. Baby Boo
These cute little white pumpkins get their name because they are white when picked before they mature.
Similar to Jack- Be-Little pumpkins, Baby Boos are tiny, and are similar in style when it comes to painting. The best part? Because these pumpkins are white, they present the perfect canvas for a wide variety of colors.
4. Porcelain Doll
This is another medium-sized pumpkin that has a smooth, waxy surface, much like a porcelain doll. They’re also unique, given their pink/orange color.
Porcelain Doll pumpkins are ideal if you want to use only certain colors of paint. Certain hues can really pop against the orange and the pink, and can make for one amazing work of art.
These are smooth, white pumpkins used in food, for decoration, or for Halloween
carving. Because these are so smooth, and white, like the Baby Boos, they serve as a great surface for painting with every color!
Types of Paint
When it comes to painting pumpkins, there are several types of paint you can use to get the best results. Choosing one comes down to what results you’re looking for (professional or just for fun) and who will be painting (kids or adults).
The Best Paint For Kids
Watercolors are the best options for kids, as they are simple, can blend together to create some beautiful, unique colors, and are relatively mess-free.
If you’re planning on letting your kids paint indoors, or on an outdoor surface you don’t want to get paint on — such as a deck, patio, or driveway — then we recommend laying down some newspaper before you let your kids paint their pumpkins.
The Best Paint For Adults
Acrylics or spray paints are great for adults, since they stay in place, stick to the surface, and, best of all, don’t crack after being applied to the pumpkin.
Additionally, acrylics create brighter and more intense colors. Adults can also use puffed paints, which not only provide aesthetic appeal, but also changes in texture (glossy, matte, etc.) and changes in appearance (because puffed paints add layers and appear raised on any surface).
Types of Brushes
Just like the type of paint you choose, the type of brush you use is just as important when it comes to painting pumpkins. Sponge brushes are your best bet, since they are soft and effective in transferring paint.
Typically, brushes with bristles are fine to use, but sponges tend to be best, since the bristles can be damaging to the pumpkin’s skin. After all, you are working with a fruit!
No matter what kind of brush you decide to use, you should be gentle with the pumpkin, so as to not break the skin. The use of aerosol or brush-on sealant before actually painting will definitely help with keeping the pumpkin intact.
Time to Get Creative
When it comes down to it, painting pumpkins is all about expressing yourself creatively. You can paint with a vision; outlining your design first and filling it in with your paint of choice. Or, you can freestyle, starting randomly and seeing where it goes.
No matter what you decide, be sure to get as creative as possible, so that you end up with a project that best reflects your unique vision and personality.
To gain some inspiration, here’s 10 of our favorite ideas for painting pumpkins:
1. Playing Around With Shapes
Shapes are an amazing phenomenon. Not only are they complex enough to create geometric algorithms, but they are also simple enough to express complex emotions (a heart signifying “I love you,” a star representing a fiery ball of gas light years away).
They can also be great for creating patterns and planning intricate designs on a pumpkin! Whether you go with diamonds, hearts, stars, triangles, circles, or a combination of an array of shapes, they are diverse and can provide an awesome design for a pumpkin.
2) Picturesque Seasons
Although pumpkins are most often associated with fall, it is always fun to paint a picture that depicts our favorite aspects of our favorite seasons.
For example, you can paint the sun, the sand, and the ocean to illustrate your favorite summer beach day. Or even a tree with its leaves falling off, keeping up with the autumn theme. How fun would it be to think outside the box and paint a snowman on a pumpkin? Or a floral garden to represent springtime? The possibilities are endless!
3. Line Designs
You can use verticals lines and horizontal lines to create really cool patterns
that you can then fill in with whatever colors you’d like.
Whether it’s a simple black-and-white design, or a complex combination of every color out there, you can use strong lines around the pumpkin, or vertically from the stem to the bottom, to create awesome-looking boundaries for your colors.
4. Using Stamps
Don’t want to draw freehand? This is an exciting time to use stamps! You can find
stamps in all shapes and sizes, from animals to food items, and everything in between.
Stamps are a super fun way to use the paint and decorate the pumpkin, while not having to worry about whether or not you actually know how to paint a black cat or grey clouds.
5. Incorporating Words
Painting your pumpkin for Halloween in particular? Try painting some of these
phrases on your pumpkin: “Boo!” “Beware” “Broomstick Xing” “Witches Brew” “Property of Ghouls”, or “Trick Or Treat”.
It may help to outline the words in pen or sharpie before filling in the block lettering with paint.
6. Wacky or Realistic Faces
You can paint a face on a pumpkin and make it as wacky or as realistic as you’d like. You’re in control!
If you want to paint the Mona Lisa, feel free. It’s your pumpkin, which means you get to paint it your way, so if you do choose to paint a face, it can be any face you’d like. It can even be a self-portrait.
7. Fruits and Veggies
Fall produces some of the most delicious and beautiful (and tasty) fruits and vegetables you can imagine. Our favorite, of course, is the apple. There are so many different types of apples; why not pick your favorite fruit or vegetable and paint different versions of it all over your pumpkin?
If apples are your favorite, too, you can take a look at a range of different kinds and learn about them here. If not apples, then there are plenty of fall-friendly gourds, berries, and greens to inspire your pumpkin painting.
We can’t talk about painting a pumpkin without talking about Halloween-themed images. How about a few ghosts and ghouls flying around on the pumpkin? Or, a few witches cackling around a pot, brewing a potion? Even something simple and cute, like a pumpkin within a pumpkin would work.
Halloween is the most popular time to decorate, carve, and/or paint pumpkins, so you can always use themes surrounding this tradition to create an awesome piece of art. You can even make it a fun learning experience and research similar traditions in other countries! The most commonly known is Día de Los Muertos (or Day of the Dead) which is celebrated in Mexico and entails elaborate masks and lighting candles to honor those who have passed.
9. Add Some Texture
No matter what you decide to paint, it’s always fun to add layers once you’re done. Feel free to get creative with this part!
You can use stickers, rhinestones, puffed paint (as mentioned above), yarn, flowers, vines, leaves, strings with lights, strings with bells, henna, or glitter glue, just to name a few options. There are a multitude of ways to add texture to your pumpkin, once it’s painted.
Not only will it catch the attention of any onlooker, but it will also be an amazing additional way to express your unique imagination!
The beautiful thing about watercolors is that you don’t actually have to paint anything concrete to create beauty on your surface of choice. Like we mentioned earlier, it may be worth having a plan when it comes to your design, but there is also equal merit in free styling when it comes to art projects.
You can take your sponge or your soft brush and get wacky with the colors. Paint an array of colors together or lines and streaks where you please. It doesn’t matter what you do as long as you have fun with it!
Paint Pumpkins & Enjoy Yourself
Whatever you decide to create, art is about taking the plunge and getting started. Art can also be a really fun communal project that is perfect for the whole family to work on together.
It can be messy, but so is pumpkin-carving, so we figure it’s worth the risk, considering it’s a total blast. It’s important to dive in and create something special, but it’s far more important to have fun while doing it.
Pumpkins are such lovely, universal fruits that come in diverse colors, shapes, sizes, and flavors. They are used in both savory and sweet dishes, and are, of course, a staple of Halloween and Thanksgiving celebrations.
Not only are you able to carve them, but you’re also able to turn them into a beautiful work of art that you can display for all your friends and family (you may even inspire them to create their own painted pumpkins!).
Pumpkins are actually quite often used as decoration pieces or centerpieces for autumn, so why not go the extra mile and design them in your own unique way to fit your own unique style? No matter what, painting pumpkins is a fun project; so get out there and start working on your personal masterpiece!