Surreal Abstract Frog Skull Rose – Black and White

Frog skull with geometric shapes forming a rose. Surreal abstract art in black and white by Joseph Westrupp.

The title of this picture is Gray Rose.

It’s a black and white version of Rose, created about half a year after the original, when I noticed it was a good candidate for black and white.

It was interesting examining this composition again. Half a year isn’t an especially long time, but enough to see a change in my artistic choices. It’s subtle though, maybe not obvious from outside.

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Surreal Abstract Elephant Bone Collage – Green

Yellow elephant bone collage on red rectangle, against pastel green background. Surreal abstract art by Joseph Westrupp.

The title of this picture is Powder Bone Flare, ‘powder’ signifying the tonal difference from the first iteration which is much darker.

There were multiple major changes to the composition for this image. As happens sometimes, I finished it, a day or so passed, and dissatisfaction slowly blossomed.

At first it seems like normal fleeting doubt. In those situations waiting till the next day’s bestowal of fresh eyes is the ultimate arbiter. And in this case the new day let me know I had to keep working it. That type of revelation is disappointing, but leads to more satisfaction in the end. Nothing gnaws at you like having subpar work out in the world.

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Surreal Abstract Bone Ring With Lines – Black and White

Black elephant bone collage divided by vertical white lines, on light background. Surreal abstract art in black and white by Joseph Westrupp.

The title of this picture is Zero Black.

In considering where I stand on artwork variations, I had to consider the role of black and white in my lineup.

It briefly occurred to me that maybe black and white was merely an insipid reflection of a color image. However, if you look at any good black and white work, that notion is proven decidedly false (though it can be true if produced clumsily). Paradoxically the subtraction of color can add a compelling and exciting dimension.

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Surreal Abstract Bone Ring With Lines

Orange-brown elephant bone collage divided by vertical white lines, on dark crimson background. Surreal abstract art by Joseph Westrupp.

The title of this picture is Zero. The reason is threefold—first and most obviously the ring shape of the bones. But also the word zero and the concept of it hold a lot of aesthetic appeal for me.

Why would zero be aesthetically appealing? For that matter, why would a bone collage with superimposed lines be aesthetically appealing (at least to me, and hopefully you too)?

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Surreal Abstract Elephant Bones With Lines – Red

Red elephant bone collage divided by vertical white lines, on blue-green background. Surreal abstract art by Joseph Westrupp.

The title of this picture is Red Memorism.

I notice the further I get into this the simpler I’m keeping my colors (and probably the same for my compositions). I’m less interested in fancy color transitions and cinematic effects like adding lots of blue to the shadows.

I still do it (even in this image actually), just more judiciously. That said, there is some complexity in the colors here, it’s not plain green and red. For instance, if you look closely at the tonal transition of the background, you’ll see some subtle undulations of red and yellow in the green.

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Surreal Abstract Elephant Bones With Lines – Apricot

Apricot elephant bone collage divided by vertical white lines, on blue-green background. Surreal abstract art by Joseph Westrupp.

The title of this picture is Apricot Memorism.

This variation came the most readily of the series. Actually, not just that, but it required unusually little work. Almost all it required was lightening up the background of the original (which itself took the usual eternity to get right).

It might seem intuitive that once the original is set up, the variations should only require minor tweaking of colors and tones. That’s rarely the case however. The reason is the brightness of a color has a huge effect on how it looks.

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Surreal Abstract Elephant Bones With Lines – Gray

Elephant bone collage divided by vertical white lines. Surreal abstract art in black and white by Joseph Westrupp.

The title of this picture is Gray Memorism.

Initially for this variation I tried a dark background contrasted with much lighter bones. It was immediately clear it wasn’t going to work.

That’s curious, though—there’s an intangible property of a composition that dictates whether light on dark or vice versa will be aesthetically pleasing. Sometimes both are great, but it’s more common for one tonal scheme to be superior (then throw in color, and everything changes again).

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Surreal Abstract Crab Shell Collage – Black and White

Crab shell collage with geometric shape. Surreal abstract art in black and white by Joseph Westrupp.

The title of this picture is Gray Comma.

The underlying crab shell photo has appeared more times in my work than any other base image (it’s in the Ampersand series, Anfractuosity, Uhtceare, Vagility, as well as its orange and blue sibling, Comma). Funny considering it’s quite a low-resolution, technically rough photo.

And it wasn’t by premeditated design. When I work on a piece, along the way I save any drafts I think might have merit. Then when I have fresh eyes (generally the next day) decide which is best and further develop it. The difference with this crab shell photo is that I chose to go ahead with Anfractuosity, but with hindsight I liked a lot of the drafts I saved, so ended up developing those too.

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Surreal Abstract Tiger Skull Collage – White

Tiger skull collage on black square, over light background. Surreal abstract art in black and white by Joseph Westrupp.

The title of this picture is Protean White, a high key version of Protean Black, which is also black and white.

Altogether there are four variations, the other two, Protean and Protean Eclipse, being color and made some months before the black and whites.

I think this is the first image I’ve made two black and whites of. Why? Considering it now, I have no reason in particular for the number of variations I ever do. I guess it’s a matter of serendipity during editing, with the constant experimenting thereof normally providing hints of other possibilities along the way.

Though that said, sometimes even a single version is extremely difficult to get happening, with colors, tones, and composition refusing to cooperate. Therefore, if other possibilities flow, I just gratefully go with it.

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Surreal Abstract Tiger Skull Collage – Black

Tiger skull collage on white square, over dark background. Surreal abstract art in black and white by Joseph Westrupp.

The title of this picture is Protean Black.

The original color version of this, Protean, was created a while ago. But lately I’ve been on a black and white variation kick, and though not all images work in black and white, I think this one is quite effective.

Most of my black and whites require extra tonal adjustment from the color versions because you don’t have color providing contrast between elements (it’s funny just how bad a straight desaturation can look). Bur for this one I couldn’t decide between a dark background or a completely different white one. Normally one just doesn’t work, or is obviously the better option. In this case both looked good, so I did both.

Protean White is the name of the version with the white background.

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