For this project, we were assigned 3 Nursery Rhymes: Hey Diddle Diddle, Humpty Dumpty, and There was an Old Woman who Lived in a Shoe.
The three Rhymes are included below:
Hey Diddle Diddle
Hey diddle diddle,
The cat and the fiddle,
The cow jumped over the moon.
The little dog laughed,
To see such sport,
And the Dish ran away with the spoon.
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again
There was an Old Woman who Lived in a Shoe
There was an old woman who lived in a shoe.
She had so many children, she didn’t know what to do;
She gave them some broth without any bread;
Then whipped them all soundly and put them to bed.
We were supposed to use online images to create compositions, each based around a line from a Rhyme, e.g. All the King’s Horses and All the King’s Men.
Below, I will showcase all the images I created, along with the thought process and research behind each composition.
Lastly, I will show the 4 shortlisted images for submission/presentation and why I chose them.
Hey Diddle Diddle, The cat and the fiddle.
My original compositions took the lines very literally, and as such I assumed a cat had to be a cat / fiddle a fiddle.
For this line, I tried centering the compositions around the concept of “diddle”:
My first interpretation of this line was that the Fiddle was a sacred object, coveted by all, hence the circle of cats reaching for it. The Main cat represents a guardian of the fiddle, while the grumpy cat in the background plots to steal the fiddle.
The second interpretation took the idea of a thug Tiger (well, it’s still considered a cat isn’t it?), coming to collect debts with an army of fiddles as weapons/men. As such, I used a White Tiger with SGD$1 Coins (Merlion is half-cat.) for eyes. The implied spiral using the negative space focuses viewers’ eyes on the Tiger, which is meant to be the most threatening and imposing aspect of the image.
The Cow Jumped Over the Moon.
This image was made very early during the creation process, so once again it has the very “literal” hallmark. I tried making a nonliteral version with steak jumping over a cheese wheel, but the sense of action was completely lost by the time I was complete so I trashed it. For this composition, while the idea is straightforward, I tried using principles of design, using a Rhythmic motion of the Moon, and movement of both cows as though in orbit of the moon. Lastly, the way the moons and cows are set up creates an implied line/arrow to the bottom left of the image.
And the Dish ran away with the Spoon.
When I explored this concept, I was past the literal phase of using a dish and spoon with legs running away together. Instead, I decided to pursue the idea of a man running away from a void / black hole. The twist here is that the man is made of a variety of dishes and spoons! Even the black hole is made of wooden spoons. In the end, after consulting with classmates, I decided to make two variants of this image, as opinions were divided over which one was more aesthetically pleasing.
If you feel like it, try to find the following Dishes and Spoons in the images!
Dishes: Satellite Dish, Buffet Dish, Dinner plate.
Spoons: Ladle, Chinese Soup spoon, Tablespoon, Wooden spoon, Salad spoon.
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
I didn’t want to do the cliche notion of an egg falling off a wall. That’s boring mate! So I decided to look deeper into the origin and meaning of the Rhyme of Humpty Dumpty. Humpty Dumpty is speculated to refer to two possible things: the first would be a drunk, intoxicated person whose bumbling about could lead to a nasty fall, or the second was a historical reference.
Apparently, Humpty Dumpty was a 17th century reference to either a failed Siege Engine or massive Cannon on a high wall that came toppling down when the wall it sat on was damaged by artillery fire. Using the idea that “Humpty Dumpty” didn’t necessarily have to be an anthropomorphic egg who took a tumble to his sunny-side-upped demise, I decided to borrow the idea of food/cracked eggs, while in a vastly different context.
The result was “Humpty Dumpty” an Egg Meteor, heading straight for Planet Frying Pan. It’s a breakfast of cosmic proportions. To create the supporting elements of the meteor and give it direction, I decided to use other foodstuffs usually seen with eggs to create the comet trail / meteor shower effect.
Leeks / Spring Onions, often used as garnishing in Chinese Omelettes, were used to create the “burning” effect of atmospheric entry.
Black Peppercorns, a household spice, were used to create rock trails of debris at burn off during entry.
And finally, Bacon.
I decided to use the “Streaky” Nature of bacon to maximum effect, and ended with 3 images as shown below.
All the King’s Horses and all the King’s Men.
This line was one of the first ideas I explored, hence it also has the literal effect. The first set of images were based on the idea of using Medieval art styles, hence I decided to give it a Norman-esque feel not unlike the Bayeux Tapestry style.
My first concept was rather literal, using Romanesque Medieval Architecture and religious iconography as a reference point. The first concept was an inverted Tympanum. Tympanums are a feature of Romanesque Church architecture, where figures of God, Angels and Men would adorn the arch above the portal or doorway into a Basilica or Church.
Upon completion and consultation, one of the issues with this image was that besides being a little too literal, its symmetry, while intended, made it aesthetically very plain and unexciting. Hence, I set out to make an asymmetrical variant of King’s Horses and Men.
I still wanted to capture the Romanesque feel, so instead of using a Tympanum concept, I took reference from another example of Early Medieval Art: The Illuminated Manuscripts.
…and now for something completely different
I also experimented with a non-literal interpretation of the line further down the project: This time using video game concepts of one of the most significant characters in World of Warcraft’s lore: Garrosh Hellscream.
Without going too much into Warcraft’s Lore, Garrosh at a time commanded one of the largest armies of the world, before his corruption and downfall in the Mists of Pandaria/Warlords of Draenor expansions. I wanted to display Garrosh as a “King” surrounded by symbols of his power and men.
The end result was a portrait of Garrosh surrounded by Wolves’ heads, as Wolves are the “horses” of his army; and his waraxe, Gorehowl, to symbolize the armies and brute power he wielded.
There was an Old Woman who lived in a Shoe
For this concept, I wanted to create both an effect of absurdity while at the same time using religious iconography. The result was this:
The absurd and slightly hilarious aspect of the image is the fact that the Old Woman’s head is popping out of the boot: How does she fit inside? The halo of shoes in this context references how characters gasp for air and light after emerging from darkness, an effect often seen in comics.
On the other hand, the religious iconography side takes reference from both the ideas of Mother Teresa and the Virgin Mary: That the old woman is sort of a Saint who miraculously lives in a shoe, and the halo of light often seen in images of the Virgin Mary.
She had so many children, she didn’t know what to do.
This was the first composition I made. There’s really not much explanation to do here.
This was as literal as it got. The only things worth mentioning in this image was the use of repetition to create an overwhelming background of kids, and utilizing the rule of thirds / gazing space to place the old lady.
Then whipped them all soundly and put them to bed.
For this concept, I wanted to jar viewers into a sense of discomfort with what they were seeing. I wanted to show them an image of a peacefully sleeping kid, yet having a huge sun loom over him; as we all know nobody can sleep well if there’s a bright light source near their face. I expanded on this by making the sun out of whips, to represent the whipping of all the children. The first result was this:
While Variant #1 got the idea, it didn’t exactly create a great aesthetic effect. I had unwittingly created a human version of Catdog.
Hence, I set out to create a version of the image with only one, anatomically accurate child in mind, with a asymmetrical format. Along the way, I also found a way to make the sun menacing, and potentially take on the appearance of a monster with tentacles:
The menacing whip entity seems to be creeping up on the child, not unlike how a murderer would sneak up on a sleeping victim. This was also because “putting them to sleep” has a very grim potential meaning to it as well.
The Final 4.
Below are the 4 images I chose for the final submission, along with explanation.
I was actually torn between this and its other variant for submission, as I felt they both conveyed the concept of a Dish/Spoon person running away from something, while creating motion and rhythm and multiple principles of design. In the end, a coin toss decided for me.
This composition was my most innovative out of the collection, and I felt it stood out from a creative standpoint. The use of food to create an apocalyptic space collision is not something you see every day. It also has Bacon, and it’s heresy not to include bacon in your honored list.
I felt this image created both a comical and religious feeling at the same time. As an image, it is aesthetically pleasing, but when the viewer confronts its meanings, they find themselves conflicted. The religious reading interferes with the comical reading and vice versa. I found this duality very appealing and added a very challenging dimension to the artpiece, and hence chose it for submission.
I felt that the image not only conveyed the literal meaning of the line, but also alluded to the darker probability of the rhyme; that the old woman killed some of the kids because she could not afford to feed them all; “putting them to bed.” The dark and menacing hint in the image juxtaposes itself with the idea of a sun and light in the room. From an aesthetic standpoint, the image is also pleasing, as the “whip sun” seems to project light onto the boy’s face, which creates the illusion of a realistic light source in the image.
In conclusion, this exercise taught me much about how to composite images; symmetry is not always best, and that not everything in art has to be literal. It was also a lot of fun inserting hidden meaning into the artwork, and leaving it for viewers to decipher. Overall, I feel that if I ever have to make something absurd with Photoshop in the future, this would be a great reference point.