How to Paint Pumpkins

How to Paint Pumpkins is a fun way to add color and personalization to your pumpkins and fall decor. This simple how-to guide will help you create painted pumpkins you love to display.

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A handpainted white pumpkin with bold blooms displayed with a fall scene.

I love decorating for fall with all kinds of pumpkins. But, sometimes I think pumpkins need a little artistic flair to make them stand out. These tutorials teach you fun ways to add your own personal touch and a bit more color to your pumpkins. Follow along with these two step-by-step guides for painting styrofoam pumpkins with acrylic paints. Create beautiful pumpkins that you can enjoy for years to come! The first tutorial will walk you through how to create vibrant flowers on a styrofoam pumpkin. The second tutorial is super simple but so much fun as it walks you through quick steps to painting animal print on your pumpkins. How fun!

A gold and black leopard print on a white pumpkin.

Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a Floral Pumpkin:

Happy Fall Y'all sign with a floral painted white pumpkin next to it.

STEP 1- No prep, just paint

If you are using a styrofoam pumpkin as I did, there really is no prep needed. I just tipped my pumpkin to its side and started painting. I began with the deep berry color and painted the shape of the flower I wanted. You will want to do a couple of coats. Go for circular shapes, but not perfect circles.

Mixing lighter shades of purple on the flower to create the look of petals.

Note: If you are nervous to dive right into painting, you can always practice in your mixed media pad before getting started like I did. I do this with just about every new project I’m tackling. It helps me flush out all my ideas and find my favorite method.

STEP 2- Add different colored flower shapes

Christie painting circular motions with orange paint to create a flower on a pumpkin.

Next, I begin adding in some orange flowers. You can add in any color you choose here. Just remember, these do not need to be perfect circles and filled in fully. You want there to be a bit of variation with each flower and the pigmentation inside them. 

STEP 3- Add in some berries and other special touches

Christie painting on circular flowers in purple.

 I added in some dark berries and left room for a little bit of greenery in between. There is no wrong way to do this tutorial. You can truly just do whatever you feel led to do, so feel free to improvise as you go.

STEP 4- Add more white to your flowers

A White painted pumpkin with painted flowers.

While the flowers are still a little wet, I like to add some white to the top of the flowers I have created. Trust the process on this part. It will turn these flowers into beautiful and textured-looking flowers. As you add the white to the damp flowers, be sure to clean off your brush so you are adding a fresh white layer to each flower and not mixing the colors all together. That can lead to flowers that all look the same. You want to make the flowers stand out from each other.

Christie using a small paintbrush and white paint to add layers to a purple flower.
Christie using a paint brush to add orange and white paint to create a flower on a pumpkin.

STEP 5- Add in your greenery

Creating an outline of a leave with a small paintbrush.

I switched to a really small brush and grabbed some dark green. Then I lightly dragged some stems out. After that, I added some little leaves. To add leaves you can simply apply more pressure near the center of the leaf to make your brush apply a thicker stroke and then lift the pressure off your brush to get that crisp, pointy leaf tip. Feel free to add in leaves and vines wherever your brush takes you. You can even add in some stems for your berries.

Christie using a small paintbrush and green paint to create leaves.

While the dark green is still wet, come in with your lighter green and add in a few small brush strokes. You can choose if you want to blend in that lighter green with the dark or if you want the brush strokes to show. I personally like the strokes to show. It adds depth and texture.

Green leaves and purple berries were added to the painted pumpkin.

If you prefer to not use paint at all for the greenery, you can also use a Posca Pen, or any paint pen, in green to do the same greenery. Paint pens do allow you to have a bit more control over the outcome, but both paint and paint pens will work just fine. It’s totally up to you!

STEP 6- Add the centers to your flowers

Christie using a paintbrush to add a black center to a purple flower.

Once your flowers are completely dry, grab some black with your small brush and add some imperfect black circles to the center of your flowers. After you are done you can just leave it like that and let it dry. Or, this is a great time to add a little more detail to your flowers. Grab and mix a few more shades of the colors you used on the flowers and lightly dab those new shades over their respective flowers.

Using a paint brush with a lighter shade of purple to add layers to the flower.

STEP 7- Time for pen details

Christie using a white paint pen to add details to leaves on the painted pumpkin.

Let your flower centers and details dry completely. Once they are dry, grab a Posca Pen. I used the PC5 which is a medium tip. You could use a finer tip or wider tip, it’s totally up to you. In white, I quickly went around and added little squiggly scribbles along the colorful part of my flowers and leaves to create accent marks. Then, I went in with a black paint pen and very lightly added some loose lines around the edge of the outside of the flower.

Using a gold paint pen to add dots for details.
 A white painted pumpkin with bold blooms of pink, purple, and orange. Black centers, and green leaves, purple berries.

Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a Leopard Print Pumpkin:

A white pumpkin with gold and black leopard spots.

STEP 1- No prep, just pain

Just as I detailed earlier, you do not have to prep your pumpkin at all. You can hop right into painting. The key to making these look like an animal print is to not do perfect circles. You want your circles to be very irregular. One way to practice before you paint your pumpkin is to use your Mix Media Pad and practice, practice, practice.

STEP 2- Begin your print

I used a deep yellow for this part. Make lots of different spots like this in different sizes. I started by making very blobby-looking circles. You don’t want it to be perfectly symmetrical because animal prints aren’t. If you make it too perfect, it may end up looking like polka dots rather than animal print. So, embrace the imperfections and trust the process here.

Christie using a small paint brush to add the black detail on leopard spots.

STEP 3- Add your black accents to your spots

You don’t want all the black lines on the outside to connect. There needs to be little openings around the gold spots. This may look odd at first, but once you get a bunch of your spots together, it will make sense. I also added in some small, solid black spots for more variation.

Christie using a small brush to add detail in black around leopard spots.

STEP 4- Shimmer next if you wish

I like to come in with my gold and add it to the top of the yellow in my animal print spots. It just adds that extra flair to your pumpkin that makes it stand out and shimmer. 

Add gold shimmery paint on top of the yellow leopard dots.

Sealing Your Painted Pumpkins:

Sealing your pumpkins truly is optional. If you think your pumpkins will be exposed to the elements, in the sun, or bumped against other decor in storage, then I highly recommend applying a sealant. You will want to let your pumpkins completely dry. Then, you can use a sealant of your choice. I like to use Dura Clear and paint it on. You could use a spray sealant. They make several of those with UV protection which is great if you plan to place them outside. The finish is totally up to you. Go with a gloss if you want it to be shiny or a matte if you want it to appear more flat.  Just seal and enjoy!

a fall display with the white pumpkin with black and gold leopard spots.

How fun and gorgeous are these?! I love how these painting techniques take regular pumpkins and really make them fun, vibrant, and unique. You could do this technique on so many different surfaces, real pumpkins, cards, canvas, and so much more! I’d love to see what you create using these tutorials. Be sure to post them to social media and tag us!

A finished painted pumpkin. Bold blooms in pink, orange , and purple with green leaves. All the flowers have black centers.

Want more tutorials like these and a supportive, creative community of fellow artists?! In my Tribe, we are always creating fun art like this. And, the awesome thing is that you don’t have to have any previous experience or training at all! I walk you through each painting and lesson step-by-step! Join the waitlist for Tribe today so you are the first to know when our doors reopen!

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