It’s time I get honest with you: I don’t like carving pumpkins.
I love picking out pumpkins. And I love roasting up a pan of pumpkin seeds and eating pumpkin-flavored sweets. But that whole part in between where you have to wade through pounds of pumpkin goop and struggle with a knife trying to stick to a pattern that you know full well isn’t going to turn out the way you want it to? Yeah I hate that stuff.
So this year, I decided to change up my Halloween decor with a different “gourd” idea: Painted pumpkins. In lieu of carving up a Jack O’Lantern for my stoop, I put down the knife and reached for a paintbrush. These colorful, modern and whimsical pumpkins are less of a mess to craft and harder to mess up.
"Dipped" Diagonal Pumpkin
To mimic the look of a “dipped” pumpkin without having to invest in gallons of acrylic paint, use blue painter’s tape to mark off the bottom half of the pumpkin with a diagonal line, being careful to adhere the tape to the inside the ridges of the pumpkin’s shape. Paint below the tape with acrylic or craft paint in a contrasting color.
Once the paint on your pumpkin is completely dry, remove the tape. If any paint seeped under the tape, touch up the edge with a cotton swab dipped in nail polish remover.
I used painter’s tape to mark off a chevron pattern for this pumpkin. To prepare, cut one- to one-and-a-half-inch segments from a roll of ¾-inch-wide painter’s tape (or cut 1.5-inch wide painters tape in half like I did). Stick two of the pieces to the front center of your pumpkin in a 90° angle “V”-shape. Continue attaching tape “V”s around the “equator” of your pumpkin. If the tape doesn’t come together in a perfect chevron once you’ve made your way around, declare that part the back of your pumpkin and have a glass of wine. For the next row up or down of chevron stripe, use slightly shorter lengths of tape to create the “V”s, starting at the newly-declared back of your pumpkin. Continue with chevron tape rows until you’ve reached the top and bottom of your pumpkin.
Once it’s all taped and the tape is secure, paint gently over the entire pumpkin with a contrasting color of acrylic or craft paint.
Once the pumpkin is dry, carefully peel up the painters tape. If any paint seeped under the tape, you can clean it up with a cotton swab dipped in nail polish remover. You can choose to leave your pumpkin like this with the original pumpkin color coming through the chevron stripes, or you can do what I did and paint between the stripes with a different color paint.
State Pride Pumpkin
For this one, you’ll need to find a vinyl decal of your state, just like the kind you would stick to your car’s back windshield. I got mine from eBay seller Shoul Vinyl. Follow the included instructions to stick the vinyl decal to the front of your pumpkin. Do this slowly and carefully; the better your decal sticks into the ridges and curves of your pumpkin, the less touch-up work you’ll have to do later.
Once the decal is on, paint over the entire pumpkin with a sponge brush in a contrasting color of acrylic or craft paint. Do as many coats as needed. It’s up to you if you want to paint the stem, but if not, you might want to cover it with painter’s tape, then go back later with a small bristle paintbrush to paint to the edges.
Once the paint on your pumpkin is completely dry, carefully pull the decal off the pumpkin. To get the best results, peel up a small corner of the decal, then flip the corner all the way over so it’s against the pumpkin as you continue to pull slowly. Like, really slowly.
If you’ve done everything right, you should see your state’s silhouette in the original color of the pumpkin. (If paint has seeped underneath the decal, you can touch it up with a cotton swab soaked in nail polish remover.) To finish, use a small pointed paintbrush to draw a star, dot or any other shape over the location of your city.
You can totally use this technique to reverse-paint any kind of shape onto a pumpkin. Try it with your initial or monogram, house number, or a favorite icon or emblem (like a Fleur de Lis or anchor).
If you haven’t noticed by now, I cheated a little and used fake craft pumpkins for these. You can use paint real pumpkins just fine, but I wanted these to last for several more Halloweens (or at least as long as we’re living here in Atlanta, otherwise that Georgia pumpkin wouldn’t make much sense). It’s definitely more work than cutting a few triangles into an orange gourd, but I think the result of having unique pumpkins that you’re proud to show off is totally worth it in the end.