How to Paint Your Pumpkins with Art Stencils

When you have an antique home like I do, decorating for Halloween is just about mandatory. The fact that mine is painted gray, black, and white–and that the house number is 31–pretty much seals the deal.

pumpkin decorated with metallic paints and art stencils
Metallic paints and art stencils make this pumpkin pop.
I used Julie Fei-Fan Balzer’s Alphabet Stencil for the word.

One of the easiest porch decorations I ever made consisted of two urns, two pumpkins, and two stencils. I cut my own stencils of the numbers 3 and 1 and set them out on the porch steps, signifying our address and the season in one fell swoop.

Creating artistic pumpkins is easy to do with basic mixed-media supplies like art stencils, permanent markers and pens, acrylic paints, spray paints, and gel medium. For the pumpkin shown here, I used Rust-oleum® Universal Paint & Primer in One, in Hammered Silver; a Big Phat Marker by Tulip®; and Julie Fei-Fan Balzer’s Alphabet stencil.

I sprayed the pumpkin and stem with silvery metallic paint, let it dry, then added the word with the art stencil, finishing with a flourish of fancy fibers.

Here are some tips for making art pumpkins:

1. Wash and dry the vegetable thoroughly. Be sure to dry the nooks and crannies with a towel or let the pumpkin air dry.

2. Seal–or not. Most pumpkins have a glossy, slightly waxy surface that can resist water-based paints, so some artists prefer to prime their pumpkin canvas with a spray sealer. However, if your pumpkin is clean and dry or you’re using oil-based paint pens, spray paint, or permanent markers, you can probably omit this step. (Or you could choose to decorate a foam “funkin” from the craft store.)

Note: If you are spray painting or using other materials with an odor, be sure to set up outside or in a very well-ventilated area and use a respirator.

3. Affix your stencil. Pumpkins are spherical and bumpy; stencils are flat. Consequently, you will probably need to tape or hold your stencil in place while using it. With plastic art stencils, I find it helps to work on a small area of the stencil at a time. If you make a stencil using freezer paper or Mylar®, you can probably get the stencil to conform better to the pumpkin shape and work on a larger area.

4. Apply the paint or marker through the stencil. I used the Phat marker to apply my “Spooky” letters. Using the marker gave me more control than spraying, though I could have painted the stencil with a brush, too.

pumpkins painted with stencils
My black, white, and gray antique home, with house
number 31, is the perfect stage for Halloween decor.

5. Be patient. Depending on the amount of surface area you’re covering and the size of the stencil, you may need to let one area dry before painting the next area.

Other pumpkin decorating ideas:

  • Apply foil to the pumpkin using foil glue and a stencil.
  • Spray adhesive through a stencil, then applying glitter.
  • Scrape molding paste through the stencil, letting the paste dry, then painting over it to give the pumpkin surface dimension.

These ideas are just the beginning, of course. You can let your imagination go wild with Mary Beth Shaw’s Stencil Girl Mixed Media Collection. Just add a pumpkin and create!

P.S. Do you make art pumpkins? Leave a comment below with a link to a photo or upload an image to our Gallery.


Blog, Mixed-Media Techniques


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