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How to Paint a Corn Field

Updated April 17, 2017

English artist John Constable exhibited "The Cornfield" in 1826 at the Royal Academy, an oil-on-canvas painting that gave a charming, detailed peek into the English countryside. Pastoral landscapes such as "The Cornfield" strike chords with artists who appreciate the open availability of natural land and quaint picture of the farm. As a symbol of the harvest season, cornfields with rosy reds, golden yellows, and Kelly greens are welcoming rural scenes. Painting cornfields requires a bit of perspective.

Find a photograph of a cornfield or set up an easel outside using real cornfields as inspiration.

Set up your paint materials using watercolours, acrylics, or oils. Choose red, yellow and green colours as bases for your cornfield. You can change the lightness and darkness of these colours as the painting develops and according to your light source. Choose medium to large brushes as well as a small half-inch to one-inch-wide bristle brush.

Paint a high horizon line with a light yellow, so the top half of your picture is the sky, with more emphasis on the bottom, which becomes the cornfield. Start with horizontal strokes across the middle of your canvas or art paper, separating midway with a line, so you have two sections.

Paint a slightly curved line halfway between your horizon line and bottom of canvas across your entire canvas. Use a medium flat brush to outline and fill each section with varied shades of yellow from darker to lighter as you near your light source. For instance, if sunlight streams from the right of your painting, create lighter strokes blending into darker colours on the other side of the painting.

Stroke curved vertical lines up and down your sections with a slightly darker shade of yellow. Start at the top left corner of your bottom section, painting each at an angle so that that the shortest line is at the edge and the longest line is at the middle. Each line separates rows of corn. Separate each line by a half inch to an inch.

Choose a small bristle brush and use short, quick strokes to fill in between the vertical lines with a deep yellow to orange colour. Study your photo and mimic the colour and growth of the corn. For the front of each section, use green strokes to represent the stalks and leaves of the corn.

Use a flat brush to paint short vertical strokes in the back two sections. Highlight the corn with thin strokes, using light yellow at the top, deep oranges and reds at the base and edges. Vary your shading according to light source. Rows of corn should be less defined as you move to the back of your painting.

Things You'll Need

  • Acrylic, watercolour or oil paints
  • Stretched canvas or art paper
  • Easel
  • Palette
  • Medium flat brush
  • Short bristle brush
  • Photo of cornfields
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About the Author

Karen Adams has been writing professionally since 2003. At the University of Florida, she worked on the school's newspaper while earning her Bachelor of Arts in English. She contributes to many different publications regularly. Currently she lives and works in Florida and is a member of Florida University's Fiction Collective and "Tea Magazine."