How to Paint a Halloween Scarecrow
There’s a chill in the air, the leaves are showing off their autumn colors, and suddenly there’s pumpkin spice flavored stuff everywhere. You know what that means… Spooky season is upon us and Halloween is creeping closer!
To celebrate my favorite time of year, I’m sharing a little breakdown on the stages of one of my favorite Halloween paintings I’ve ever done. But readers beware!
Moment of truth here, I didn’t plan on making this little breakdown blog when I painted the original “Scarecrow Jack”. My partner Asher just happened to capture the photos of each layer after it was painted.
With Halloween creeping up around the corner, I decided to share the process anyway as best as I can. Even though this is really just a rough breakdown, you can still see how the process goes and try it out for yourself if you want!
This is a great painting to experiment and just have fun with. In the future, I’ll work to capture the process better for you but for now… Stay spooky and happy painting!
Halloween Painting Materials:
Canvas board (or stretched canvas)
Acrylic paint (black, white, orange, yellow, red, green)
Acrylic Sealer (optional)
How to Paint a Halloween Scarecrow
Step #1: Prime the Canvas
Let’s start with the basics. The first step is to prime your canvas with black gesso.
You can use white gesso but I usually stick with black gesso because it lays out my base shadows for me and creates a dark tone to the whole painting.
I suggest using at least 2 coats to cover your canvas totally. Let the gesso layers dry completely before moving on to the next step!
Step #2: Paint the Moon Base
Once your gesso is completely dry, find a round object -like a jar lid- that you can trace around. Use a pencil to lightly trace around the lid to create a full moon shape on your canvas.
You can place the moon anywhere, but I tried to put mine towards the middle.
Then, use white paint to fill in the moon circle. Once dry, dab some dark gray spots on the moon to create the shadows or craters. Go back and forth between dabbing the gray and white paints on the moon until you’re satisfied with it. Let it dry completely!
Have fun with this! This does not have to be a perfect moon since most of it will be covered up later on. Plus the moon isn’t perfectly round anyway.
Side note: You’ll notice that the moon in this picture does not match up with the pictures from the rest of the steps. I lost the original picture of this step and had to remake it.
Step #3: Add Color to the Harvest Moon
You can leave the moon white or you can add warm colors to make it into a harvest moon.
After the base coat of the moon dries completely, paint over the moon starting with yellow on the bottom, a deep orange in the middle, and red on the top.
Layer and blend the colors together as you go.
Sometimes acrylic paints dry quicker than you can blend them.
To make the colors easier to blend, I thin them down with a little bit of water. Especially when painting on a canvas board.
Side Note: This step works when using semi-translucent paints. That way the gray shadows and details you added in the last step will still show through the top colors.
Step #4: Paint the Clouds
The next step is one of my favorites: painting the clouds!
To easily paint clouds, just take a round brush (or use the corner of a flat brush) and swirl it in loose, fluffy circles to create whisp-y, cloud-like formations. I used an off white with a little gray mixed in for my clouds.
Step #5: Add in a Basic Cornfield
To paint an easy cornfield, you just take some plain black paint and paint some corn stalk silhouettes across the painting.
You can paint them as tall as you’d like, I think my cornfield went up just to the middle of the board.
You want to overlap some of the stalks just a bit, but leave space in between so the moon and clouds are still peeking through.
For an added misty effect:
Take a dry brush and get a little bit of your cloud color on it.
Dab it on a paper towel to take off excess paint, you just want a hint of color left on there.
Gently dry brush the paint over the bottom half of the cornfield to create a misty effect.
Step #6: Bring on the Pumpkins!
Next, you just want to paint a few simple pumpkins and vines in the bottom corners of the canvas.
Leave plenty of space in the middle for the scarecrow. Make sure to paint several sizes and have fun with these!
Step #7: Finish with a Spooky Scarecrow
To make my scarecrow, I started by using a pencil to lightly draw out a simple scarecrow outline, including the hat, body, and jack o’ lantern head.
Then, I painted the jack o’ lantern head like my other pumpkins, this time making sure to use a bright yellow in the facial features to make it look lit up.
After the pumpkin head, I painted the hat and body with a dark gray color.
I used the yellow, orange, and light gray to make highlights on the hat and body.
Then, I finished the scarecrow with some branch arms/hands and voilà!
Optional Step: Top Coat
I like to finish all my paintings with a clear paint sealer on top (these are easy to find). This clear top coat helps make sure the whole painting has an even sheen, and adds extra protection to the painting to help the colors last. It is optional but I highly recommend it.
Make sure to check the sealer to make sure it’s compatible with your paint and your canvas type. You must also be sure to let the painting completely dry, I recommend drying for 24-48 hours, before sealing. Read and follow the instructions on the can!
If you’d like your own print of the original “Scarecrow Jack” you can find it here along with a few more Halloween prints. Be sure to browse through our website and follow us on social media for even more spooky fun! Thanks for reading!