There’s something just so exciting about carving a pumpkin for Halloween year after year, from their mischievous smiles, to their chilling carved eyes, but what can you do when you don’t like the gore and guts that come with it?

Let us introduce you to painted pumpkins. Painted pumpkins have it all, they’re super stylish, fun for adults and the kids, require zero knife skills, and it means you’re not sticking your hand in gourd guts.

Pumpkin painting pros from Hallmark have given us some fun design ideas and simple styling tips to create and display a picture-perfect pumpkin. Below, you’ll find her hints for three different painted pumpkin approaches including, stripes and dots, colour-blocking, and mark-making, plus some bonus ways to combine all three techniques.

Inspired? Create and share by tagging @HallmarkUKI.

Painted pumpkins supplies 

Here’s everything you’ll need:

  • Real or artificial pumpkins in different shapes, sizes and colours
  • Acrylic paint
  • Permanent markers
  • Masking tape
  • Paint brushes and sponges
  • Paper plate
  • Something to cover your table with (newspaper, craft paper, really ugly tablecloth)
  • Cups and bowls (for balancing pumpkins)
  • Paper towels (for clean-up)
  • Paper (for trying out designs)

Artist tips for getting started 

Choose a simple colour palette. You can get your inspiration from lots of different places: the colours that come in a set, a photo you find online, or (our favourite) a greeting card. We’ve chosen two colour palette inspirations—and we mixed our paints to adjust the colours to the perfect shades for us:

  • Bold and bright: orange (mix 1 part light red with two parts yellow), purple (mix equal amounts of violet and white), black and white.
  • Modern pastel: coral (mix equal amounts white and light red), black and white.

If you want to practise your designs first, grab your paper and start painting. This isn’t necessary but might help your pumpkin pairs come out cute and co-ordinated. It gives you the chance to test out colours and patterns, and play with the scale of different designs for different sized pumpkins, using a piece of paper first will also help you make simple sketches and see how the patterns will look together.

Get your space and pumpkins prepped and ready, lay out your paints, brushes, even some snacks, and you’re ready to go!

Why not try doubling up the patterns on a single pumpkin? Try multiple techniques by painting different designs on the front and back of the same pumpkin.

Painting pumpkins with stripes and dots 

This is just too easy and too fun. You can paint stripes and dots in a load of different ways:

  • One, two, three or more colours
  • Small, medium or large—or all different sizes
  • On a grid or randomly spaced
  • Messy or tidy
  • Equal stripes with dots over the top

And to make things even easier, pumpkins have built-in guidelines for your stripes and dots. Try:

  • Painting stripes between the sections
  • Painting each section a different colour—or alternate two colours
  • Painting dots from top to bottom in one section, then between those dots in the next section, and repeat all around the pumpkin

What happens if your carefully sectioned design doesn’t work out perfectly when you make it all the way around? Easiest solution of all: Turn that part to the wall.

Pumpkin-painting pro tips  

  • Hold on to the stem to spin the pumpkin while you paint.
  • Prop the pumpkin on a cup or bowl to raise it up so you can paint the bottom.
  • If you’re using plastic pumpkins, starting with a coat of white paint will make your paint colours look brighter and adhere better.
  • If you’re mixing your own colour, make more than you think you’ll need so you don’t run out mid-pumpkin.
  • You might have to do two coats to make the colours really solid.

Colour-blocking techniques for painted pumpkins 

The next technique is colour-blocking, which just means painting chunks of your pumpkin in two or more different colours.

The simplest take: Split the pumpkin in two sections horizontally, vertically or on a diagonal, paint one half and leave the other natural. There are a few ways to draw the line:

  • Use masking tape. Just wrap it around and press it down.
  • Grab a cup or bowl the same height as the line you want to draw. Hold or tape a pencil or marker across the top, set it next to the pumpkin, and rotate the pumpkin slowly to make a line all the way around.
  • Freehand it with pencil or pen. Nobody said a pumpkin’s got to be perfect.

Colour-blocking is a great way to go if you’ve got a real pumpkin with a showy stem or squishy shape. We love the look of a small pumpkin with a big stem, with a lovely bright pumpkin base and contrasting painted top.

Mark-making designs on no-carve pumpkins 

Mark-making is just what it sounds like: using a pen or brush (or stamp or leaf or vegetable or almost anything you can dip in paint) to make a pattern all over your pumpkin, you could even go with the season and get some creepy Halloween styled stamps to use.

A few mark-making hints to try:

  • Let one colour dry before adding another (This is a good excuse to paint more than one pumpkin).
  • Try small-scale mark-making with a permanent marker. If you get tired of doing really detailed work, just do one side of the pumpkin.
  • Marks can be abstract, like swooshes, swashes and swirls, or meaningful, like witches hats, moons and eyeballs.

Mix-and-match painted pumpkin techniques 

Now that you’ve got three solid pumpkin-painting approaches down, it’s time to let loose! Mix and match the methods. Try:

  • A colour-block base covered in marks, dots or stripes
  • Half in one technique, half in another
  • Try adding some doodlesor lettering or both

Check out these images below for more inspiration

Piling up your painted pumpkins 

It’s now time to display your works of art, and place your pumpkin pairs on display ready for Halloween night. Here are some ideas on how to group your gourds perfect for the evening:

  • Vary the levels. Doorsteps and gate posts are fantastic for pumpkin displays because they’re perfect for all to see. You can also set out your pumpkins in the space on and around your front door, down a wall, or even on shelves. Or stack them on some crates or cardboard boxes (you can paint those in your colour palette).
  • Make it odd and creepy. For any kind of vignette (a grouping that makes a pretty picture), odd numbers look best. Three, five, seven or 31 pumpkins it is, then.
  • Mix natural and artificial. A bunch of painted pumpkins look great with a few natural, unpainted ones thrown in.
  • Make it a family thing. The cool thing about a limited colour palette is that it makes everything look like it belongs together. So Dad’s silly doodles, toddler art, a teenager’s awesome lettering and Mum’s colour-block beauties are perfect pumpkin partners.

The best part about painted pumpkins? The natural ones last a little longer than cut jack-o’-lanterns. And artificial ones last forever—even if you decided to change the design, you can just repaint your painted pumpkin.

Remember to dispose of your pumpkins responsibly and correctly by using the correct bins or wastage disposal you have on hand.

October 16, 2023