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From Old to Spooky Chic: Thrifted Ghost Painting TikTok Trend

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I’m jumping on the thrifted ghost painting trend, the viral TikTok challenge taking social media by storm! Keep reading to learn all about it.

One of the top TikTok trends for August 2023 is all about repurposing old paintings by painting ghosts on the thrift store painting.

It’s the perfect art project for the Halloween spooky season and it’s surprisingly easy.

This is my first ghost painting and I have a few tips to share with you. Plus, you can follow me on TikTok where I’ve saved several cute ghost painting ideas.

So let’s get to this simple ghost art project so you can have fun with this Halloween trend too!

halloween ghost painting tiktok challenge

Halloween Ghost Painting Trending on TikTok

For those of you who think TikTok is just about sharing your best dance moves, it is so much more!

To give you a bit of background, my daughter, Amanda, totally introduced me to this ghost trend.

I’ve talked before about her obsession with TikTok. She is responsible for the Pottery Barn inspired bat pillow and snowman pillow I made last year.

Not to mention, she helped me curate the top Amazon gifts trending on TikTok that was so popular during the holidays.

So of course I had to check out the latest painted ghost Halloween trend that she kept talking about.

I’m not complaining at all because I’m loving the cool arts and crafts and other viral video content shared by tons of creative TikTok users.

Don’t even get me started on all the “pink Barbie movie” decorating ideas!

You may just see pink pumpkins popping up on the blog soon.

Supplies Needed for DIY Ghost Painting

decoart acrylic paint for DIY ghost painting

Halloween Ghost Painting Tips

Here are my top tips for making your own ghost painting:

  • Look for a thrift store painting that already has a spooky vibe – or can easily be updated with a spooky look. Landscaping art works well because you can add ghosts to the trees or flying overhead.
  • Don’t buy anything expensive – I went into my local Goodwill with a $10 budget. You definitely don’t want to paint a ghost on an antique piece of art, or something worth a pretty penny. There are tons of beautiful pieces you can find for cheap that will work great for this challenge.
  • Plan your design – determine what you want to paint beforehand. Of course, you know you will be painting a ghost, but it’s fun to add extra details like bats, pumpkins or even corn stalks. Lay a piece of paper over the art and decide where you will add all the Halloween details.
  • Practice – If you are unsure of what to paint, test out a few ideas on a scratch piece of paper first. You can even lay a piece of paper over the painting to get an idea for the size you want the ghost to be. I cut out a few ghosts in different sizes to see what looked best.
  • Have fun – my main tip is to HAVE FUN with it. There is no grade, there are no mistakes and no Pass or Fail at the end of this challenge. Art is all about exploring your creativity.
thrifted ghost painting before

As soon as I spotted this beach scene canvas I knew it would work well.

First of all, it was only a dollar, so even if I completely messed it up, I was only out a dollar.

My mind immediately went to a ghost walking on the beach with bats flying around.

How to Paint a Bat

The first thing I did was paint several small bats flying overhead.

Use a narrow brush and start with a pointed oval shape for the body. Add pointy bat ears and wings.

how to paint a bat with acrylic paint

These are very simple bats as this is my first painting, but I’m pretty happy with them.

Of course, you can get as detailed or realistic as you want. Remember, what I said about having fun?

bats painted on beach scene

Next up, I added black detailing to the plants and beach scene.

We want to spooky this up and adding dark shading helps get that look.

painting dark shading on ghost painting

Excuse the white paint on my manicure. I painted a ghost rug before this! You will see that on the blog next.

How to Paint a Ghost

Use your fine paint brush and paint the ghost with acrylic paint. Start by creating an outline of the ghost.

This helps with placement and size. Then just fill in the ghost with nice, even strokes.

painting ghost on acrylic painting

You will need at least 2-3 coats of white paint to get a solid white ghost.

If you want it to be more transparent, keep it to two coats.

painting second coat of white paint on ghost

Continue painting the ghost until it is as thick as you want it.

Mine was a little too thin, so I went back and gave him a little more fullness.

Let the paint dry and then add ghost eyes.

thrifted ghost painting with bats and pumpkins

I simply used the bottom of the paint brush, dipped it in black paint and added two ovals.

Now you want to add shading to the ghost to create layers.

Mix a bit of the white and gray paint and highlight the side and bottom of the ghost.

Blend it in so it in so it looks more natural. This really makes a difference as you can see in the prior photo.

Add Pumpkins and Shading

Next, I decided to add a couple of pumpkins by the rock area. This pop of orange really stood out against the gray spooky scene.

how to draw pumpkins

Quick tip-paint two letter “c’s” facing each other to create the pumpkin shape, then fill it in.

Finish off the pumpkin with a small stem and add a little shading for texture and dimension.

ghost painting with bats and pumpkins

The last step is to darken the sky and beach scene using the same shading technique used on the ghost.

A bit of gray and white mixed together makes the sky look like a storm is coming-perfect for a spooky night.

I decided to darken around the bats to make them stand out a little bit. The same effect toned down the blue ocean and adds to the creepy look.

spooky Halloween ghost painting

To protect the canvas give it a couple of coats of mod podge. I still have to do that.

Now for the best part-the before and after:


thrifted ghost painting before


thrifted ghost painting with bats and pumpkins

Side by Side Before and After

before and after thrift store ghost painting

Now that I finished my first one, I’m ready to try one with a little more detail. This is the 2nd one I found on the same day.

It was $7 for #NationalThriftStoreDay.

My plan is to add a ghost to each chair and MAYBE a black cat or a ghost cat if I’m brave enough.

When it’s finished, I’ll add a picture of it here so you can see it.


Please share this on Facebook or save it to your favorite craft or DIY board on Pinterest.

halloween ghost painting tiktok challenge

So what do you think? Are you going to give this easy ghost painting a try?

If you do, please let me know in the comments below or tag me on Facebook or Instagram.

It totally makes my day to see that I inspired someone. 🙂

For even more spooky paintings ideas check out TikTok users @heynow222 who shared a cute ghost painting and @thats_so_art who created a gorgeous Halloween ghost porch scene.

Thanks so much for stopping by.

There will be more thrift store paintings in my future so be sure to subscribe to my email so you don’t miss any of the Halloween goodies!

I’m also thinking of a fall and Christmas painting makeover. 🙂

What is the TikTok Ghost Painting Challenge?

You can read a detailed article about the ghost painting trend here.

Basically, it is a fun challenge where you upload TikTok videos, that you take going to the thrift store searching for just the right painting to makeover.

If you are not tech savvy, no worries.

You can do a quick google search for a capcut template that you can use with uploaded pictures from your camera roll.

Add a bit of text overlay, specifically #ghostpaintingchallenge or #thriftedghostpainting so other creators following the trend can check out your artwork.

One of the things I love about this challenge is you do not have to be an experienced painter to have fun with this.

I’ve watched many ghost painting videos and whenever I view the comments, the community (from what I have seen) is very supportive and encouraging.

Here are even more DIY ghost crafts:

Google Web Story: Thrifted Ghost Painting DIY

You can find me on social media below:

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Tuesday 10th of October 2023

The absolute cutest transformation! I would've never thought a beach scene would work for this project, but it looks great. My decor budget is a bit slim since we just had our hardwood floors refinished, so I've been looking for cheap ideas to spice things up. This fits the bill! Can't wait to try it!

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