Saturday, March 1, 2014

Frontier Kids: Appleseeds Magazine

Had a lot of fun with this illustration so I decided to share it here. In the March issue of Appleseeds magazine the assignment called for a vertical full spread illustration to accompany some informational copy about what life was like for kids on the western frontier and what kind of chores it would have involved. We decided the image should of course depict many of the chores for boys and girls mentioned in the text (chopping wood, tending to animals/gardens, chasing vermin, etc.) as well as be something that would work in a long vertical format.

Anyone who knows me knows that I have a serious affinity for the era of American westward expansion. Really, I have an affinity for any era, but the old West stands out to me because of the visuals - it was untamed rolling landscapes of plains, mountains, grasslands, lakes, forests, and deserts engulfing the tiny people and families who endured the hardships in hopes of new beginnings. For this illustration, I wanted to go the opposite, meaning make the kids seem bigger than life against the landscape as if they're overcoming it rather than being defeated by it. Of course once you think about larger than life figures on the western frontier, you immediately think of Thomas Hart Benton, right??

I used Benton as inspiration for this assignment, especially in the way that he composed his murals around the hard right angles of architecture (see image below.) I knew I had to deal with a rectangular box of some sort in the middle of my composition, so it just made sense. From there it was just about adding a modern children's illustration touch to it to help bring to life the text.

Kids on the Frontier Illustration, Chris Hsu
Kids on the Frontier

Design and layout by Appleseeds Magazine

Thomas Hart Benton

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