My children’s choice of subject for today was the Kraken. The Kraken is a mythological sea creature of gigantic proportions that wreaked havoc and destruction on seafarers. I am not convinced it is appears in Greek Mythology – in fact I think it originates in a Scandinavian mythology– but it’s relevance to this particular challenge arises from the Kraken’s appearance in the 1981 film ‘Clash of the Titans’ which my kids and I love. In that movie, the Kraken has replaced the monster Cetus. Really, therefore, my drawing challenge for today was to depict Cetus.
Cassiopeia foolishly and boastfully declared that her daughter, Andromeda, was more beautiful than the nereids (sea nymphs) which got Poseidon in an irate bluster. In revenge, the sea god decided to send one of his myriad sea beasties, Cetus, to destroy the town where Cassiopeia lived. To try and make amends and soothe Poseidon’s anger, Cassiopeia did what any reasonable, loving mother would do and chained her daughter to the cliffs as a snack for the sea monster and a sacrifice to Poseidon. Seriously, my kids should never complain about being banned from electronic devices as punishment. However, before Andromeda could become fish food, heroic Perseus swept in, slayed the monster and rescued the girl.
But what should Cetus look like? We have the word cetacean, for whales, from the same root so that would suggest some sort of sea mammal but that didn’t seem a monstrous enough starting point for me. I was thinking sharp, piercing teeth and powerful, grappling tentacles. The Kraken in ‘Clash of the Titans’ was pretty reptilian, possibly influenced by Godzilla, but I definitely wanted to draw something that was more sea-dwelling. Trying to come up with something that was fish-like but threatening was pretty tricky. In the end, it was another movie that gave me my idea: the Creature from the Black Lagoon. So my Cetus is an upright figure with eyes front and centre, piranha style teeth and octopus-like tentacles.
As an aside on water-dwelling beasties, you might be surprised to learn that I am frequently asked by people if I believe in the Loch Ness Monster. Within my first week of living in America, a checkout person in the supermarket asked me, “So do you believe?” which entirely baffled and dumbfounded me until she added, “In Nessie?” It is funny to be here and learn just what aspects of Scotland people in America find interesting. Apparently mythological beasties are right up there, though no one has asked me about kelpies or selkies yet. In case you are interested, this is what I believe: I believe that Nessie is very good for tourism and that spending time on Loch Ness is worthwhile whether or not you catch a glimpse of something lurking in the depths.