Stan Herd Uses Crop Fields as Canvases for His Art

For more than 30 years, Kansas-based artist Stan Herd has created large scale artworks he calls Earthworks, using crop fields as canvases.

Stan Herd was born into a family of farmers and grew up in a very small town in southwest Kansas. Although he was the artist in the family and in school, Stan also had an intimate relationship with the earth, and his earliest artworks depicted fields of wheat and alfalfa crossed by seemingly endless country roads, and agricultural activities in rural America. He realized he enjoyed doing large scale artworks when he started doing murals, and got the brilliant idea of using the earth as his canvas one time when he was flying over a crop field, in an airplane.

Having grown up on a farm, Stan was familiar with tractors and all the farm gear he needed to actually manipulate the terrain and turn into a giant work of art. It took him around three or four years to develop his techniques, but now, 35 years later, he is a world-renown crop artist with dozens of impressive projects under his belt. His rich portfolio includes works ranging from a white rose in honor of a Cuban poet to a giant bottle of Absolut Vodka.

But while a painter steps back from his canvas to gain so perspective on his artwork, how does one do the same thing with a field? Stan says it has a lot to do with the experience he’s gained over years of practicing his crop art, but sometimes he makes use of hot-air balloons and scissor lifts to get a bird’s eye look of his works. He starts by creating an outline of the design using bricks, then usese agricultural techniques like digging, plowing or disking to prepare his “canvas, and finally adds different-colored soil to achieve the desired effect.



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