When I was a kid in school, we always did some type of coloring sheet or craft featuring flint corn around Thanksgiving time. Back then we called it Indian corn. The crunchy stalks and rich, colorful kernels were so much fun to color and draw. My elementary school experiences as a student and a teacher inspired me to create a Flint Corn Painting to decorate my home for fall.
Materials for Flint Corn Painting
- 8 x 10 wooden birch board
- flint corn (optional)
- flint corn pattern- print the sketch above
- colored chalk- Make sure it is dark enough to show up on the orange background. I used blue.
- clear tape
- paints- Apple Barrel 20470E Harvest Orange, 21390E Khaki, 20404E Black, 21467E Tuscan red, 21062E Purple Iris, 20403E White, 20432E Nutmeg, 20711E Canary Yellow; Folk Art 2480E Metallic Royal Gold
- brushes-1″ sponge, 1/4″ angle, round brush, liner brush
- blow dryer (optional, but very handy)
- Mod Podge Matte Clear Acrylic Sealer
- silver frame (optional)
Getting Ready to Paint
I set the corn on my table to take a picture to refer to during the painting process. Sometimes I look at the real thing and a photograph when I’m painting. The flint corn looked nice against the orange table cloth, so I decided to use the photo as my pattern and model.
I uploaded my picture to Be Funky, the photo editor I use, then used the sketcher option under artsy to convert it to a pattern I could trace. Why should a painter use a pattern? I use patterns because I sell many of my items repeatedly on ETSY and Amazon Handmade. If you paint traditional paintings on canvas, you can sell prints of your originals. My hand painted watering cans, signs, and customized shoes cannot be duplicated by a printing machine but still need to be consistent in quality. I use the same pattern each time and refer to my tutorials when repainting or teaching classes; just in case you were wondering.
Preparing the Surface
If your birch board has rough edges, you will need to sand it to prevent splinters.
When using Pumpkin Orange or any other red/orange tone as a base, you can make the painting process quicker by painting a coat of White or Canary Yellow first. Otherwise it will take more than a few layers of Pumpkin Orange to achieve opaque coverage. Paint one coat of Canary Yellow with a 1″ sponge brush, then one coat of Pumpkin Orange.
Transferring the Pattern
Place the birch board vertically, like a portrait. Measure the top of the board to find the center. Mark with a pencil. Print the flint corn pattern and fold it in half vertically to find its center. Rub blue chalk (or any other color that will show up against the orange background) on the back. Align the center of the pattern with your pencil mark at the top of the birch board. Tape in place, then trace over the design with a pencil. When you remove the paper you should see a wonderful chalk pattern of the flint corn.
Flint Corn Painting Instructions
Paint the lines on the background with Khaki. Use a round brush for the thick lines and a liner brush for the thin ones. Paint a thin line of Metallic Royal Gold along the top and bottom of the thick Khaki lines with the liner brush. The tablecloth in the picture has metallic threads woven into the pattern, so we are allowing art to imitate life. Use the blow dryer to hurry things along.
Paint the corn on the left Black and the two corn ears on the right with Tuscan Red and the 1/2″ angle brush. You will need a few coats of paint for adequate coverage.
Mix a little bit of Khaki into a quarter-sized blob of White to achieve the cornstalk color. Use the 1/4″ angle brush to base the stalks. Add Black for the shading inside the stalks with the round brush. Add streaks of color with Tuscan Red and White and the edge of the 1/4″ angle brush. Make the detail lines with the liner brush, Nutmeg and Black. Swish thicker White streaks of highlight in between the detail lines with the edge of the angle brush.
Dip the back half of the brush in Pumpkin Orange and the front half (the tip) into Tuscan Red. Shade around the edge of the corn and stalks with the brush right up to the edge. Dry brush (no water on the brush) White highlights with a scruffy/flat brush. You could use an extender/blending medium for shading, although I did not. The extender keeps the paint from drying too quickly during the blending and shading process. The video in the beginning of this post is helpful to visualize this portion.
Now it’s time for the fun part- painting the kernels. If you look at the flint corn picture in the beginning of the post, the cob to the left is mostly black, burgundy, and purple. The one in the middle is mostly yellow, and the one on the right has a variety of kernel colors. I painted Tuscan Red kernels on all three ears of corn, then went on to the next color, until all the ears were filled with kernels of each color variety.
*left ear-I used Tuscan Red, Purple Iris, Black, and White for the kernels. Mix these colors together to make kernels in different shades. If the Tuscan Red color doesn’t show up against the Black ear, mix it with some White.
*middle ear- Tuscan Red, Purple Iris, Canary Yellow, Black, and White
*right ear- Tuscan Red, Pumpkin Orange, Canary Yellow, Purple Iris, Black, and White
Painting the Details
For the left ear, I swished a thinned-with a-little-water mixture of Purple Iris, Tuscan Red and White over the midsection of the ear, then repainted the affected kernels. Ideally, this step should be completed before painting the kernels. I was just too excited to start the fun part and forgot this step. Basically, you are mixing a lighter, slightly thinned version of the background color of each ear, and swishing it in the center to create a three dimensional effect. If you look at my painting, you can see the lightening effect in the middle of each ear of corn. Do this step for each ear of flint corn before adding any more details. Next, I added White highlights on each kernal with the liner brush. Notice how I placed highlights in different areas of each corn kernel, rather than painting highlights in the exact same place every time. Paint a few detail lines between the rows of kernels with Purple Iris, Black and the liner brush.
For the middle ear, paint Tuscan Red details on the yellow kernels with the liner brush. Weave some Canary Yellow lines between the rows of kernels. Don’t be like me and forget to add the highlight swish beforehand!
For the right ear, add Black lines between the kernel rows with the liner brush. Highlight each kernel with White and the liner brush. See how good the highlight streak in the middle of the cob looks on those two ears of corn above?
Mix Purple Iris and White, then highlight the Black shaded areas in the corn stalks. Paint your initials and the last two digits of the year with White and the liner brush.
Remove any remaining chalk, then take your painting outside and spray it with several coats of Mod Podge Matte Clear Acrylic Spray.
You’re all done! Frame it and hang it. The 8 x 10 birch board will fit perfectly in a store-bought 8 x 10 frame. I hope you enjoyed my Flint Corn Painting tutorial. If you would like to take one of my art classes, sign up at Skilpe.com.
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