Surreal Abstract Seashell Collage and Boxes – Black and White

Seashell collage with white pinstripe rectangles. Surreal abstract art in black and white by Joseph Westrupp.

The title of this picture is Seriatim Ashen.

The first person I showed this to noted that it looked like Art Deco (and if you’re not familiar with that style, the Wiki page isn’t a bad start). I saw it, too—at least after it was suggested.

However, Art Deco wasn’t remotely on my mind during creation. I had a seashell (from the jar of them that have provided the basis for quite a bit of art lately, after sitting around the house unnoticed for the better part of a decade) I thought had some nice lines, and I knew I wanted to make something from it. I took some photos, chose the best one, and ended up piecing this shape together from hard crops of it. The Art Deco-ness of it emerged coincidentally, but I actually love Art Deco so I’m kind of pleased it happened.

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Surreal Abstract Seashell Collage and Boxes

Red seashell collage with white pinstripe rectangles on blue background. Surreal abstract art by Joseph Westrupp.

The title of this picture is Seriatim.

This is a product of the whims of aesthetic taste. I made an image I thought looked pretty cool, and put it up here. Then like the sudden intrusion of reality into an illusion, I didn’t like it.

That sometimes happens. The offending creation has to be immediately torn down from where it might be seen, and I wonder why I ever liked it. Such are the vagaries of making art, at least in my experience.

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Surreal Abstract Seashell Crop and Lines – Black and White

Seashell crop, pinstripe circle and lines. Surreal abstract art in black and white by Joseph Westrupp.

The title of this picture is Black Sand. I like the poetic effect of adding ‘black’ or ‘gray’ to the titles of color work for a black and white counterpart, but lately I’ve been avoiding it. That’s because I do a black and white version of most of my images, and it seems to run the risk of becoming hackneyed if I do the same thing to the title every time.

For this one it was irresistible, though. The reason is that ‘black sand’ evokes great childhood memories for me; my family used to holiday at various black-sanded beaches in New Zealand. The sand had some type of gleaming mineral as part of its composition, which sparkled as you walked over it. The sparkles somehow had the 3D effect of appearing higher than the level of the sand, making for a surreal, magical experience.

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Surreal Abstract Seashell Crop and Lines

Gold seashell crop with white pinstripe circle and lines. Surreal abstract art by Joseph Westrupp.

The title of this picture is Sand. It stems from the appearance of the shape in the center, which seems to be formed of sand pouring in from the top of the circle, as if part of an hourglass.

It’s actually the top part of a seashell, perhaps just under a third of the whole thing. Showing any more of it stripped out the minimalistic harmony it has now.

This picture is the serendipitous result of combining the background of a scrapped image with the shell, which was the subject of another piece that ended up in the electronic recycle bin.

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Fractured Surreal Abstract Seashell Collage – Black and White

Fractured seashell collage. Surreal abstract art in black and white by Joseph Westrupp.

The title of this picture is Totem Black.

This composition was built in reverse to usual, and stemmed from the idea of fracturing the background into segments. I didn’t know it was going to be six, but that’s what I settled on when considering my ideal of minimalism with just enough complexity.

From there I experimented with two of a number of seashell photos I’d earmarked as having potential. But that’s the thing with my art, there’s often little relationship between how compelling base photographs look and their potential as part of a final composition. True to that, the draft using the first base photo was scrapped. However, the second led to what you see here.

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Fractured Surreal Abstract Seashell Collage

Fractured orange seashell collage on teal background. Surreal abstract art by Joseph Westrupp.

The title of this picture is Totem.

The orange shapes are made from a photo of a very simple seashell.

Strange how it turned out—originally I used a photo of a more complex shell that had spikes off its side. Paradoxically, the draft of that one turned out to be overly plain. Trying the simpler shell was a last resort to find a direction. And as I’ve also found prior, homing in on certain aspects of a simple shape and repeating them can lead to some interesting and surprisingly detailed forms.

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Surreal Abstract Pelvic Bone Collage – Black and White

Pelvic bone collage with circles. Surreal abstract art photo in black and white, by Joseph Westrupp.

The title of this picture is Char Abscission.

Each artwork has its own idiosyncrasies. In composing this one, there were two particular quirks that were noteworthy, both of which were completely contingent in making the picture gel.

First, the bone’s orientation. Initially it was composed 90º anticlockwise. It seemed to make more sense, the format is portrait, so you might expect more vertical elongation to match. But it was so clear when I tested what you see here that it had to be this way around.

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Surreal Abstract Pelvic Bone Collage

Blue pelvic bone collage with red circles, on green background. Surreal abstract art photo by Joseph Westrupp.

The title of this picture is Abscission.

It’s based on an iPhone photo I took in a museum. It was of a human skeleton display put together with wire and bolts so as to keep it intact and upright.

This all posed several of the usual technical challenges I face: bringing out detail in a highly cropped (and therefore low resolution) photo, and fixing visible wingnuts and wire.

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Surreal Abstract Seashell Collage on Rectangle – Black and White

Seashell collage around pinstripe rectangle. Surreal abstract art in black and white by Joseph Westrupp.

The title of this picture is Gray Organon. Organon means instrument of thought.

I’d like to leave it there and imply how widely-read I am, but truthfully it’s a word I only recently encountered. It was featured as word-of-the-day on a dictionary app on my phone. It instantly appealed for a title actually, and I marked it down on my possible-titles list where it stayed about a week.

The collaged shape surrounding the rectangle is constructed out of two seashell photos (of the same shell but at slightly different angles).

There’s a red, blue, and yellow version of this image named Organon, and a peach and blue version called Peach Organon.

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Surreal Abstract Seashell Collage on Rectangle – Peach and Blue

Peach seashell collage around pinstriped blue rectangle. Surreal abstract art by Joseph Westrupp.

The title of this picture is Peach Organon.

This is another creation from the photographs I took of a jar of seashells I found lying around. I used two photos of the same shell from slightly different angles. Curiously, they barely look like seashells anymore, more like folds of a cloak, or a marble sculpture.

I like co-opting appearances like that, and slightly obscuring the source object. It’s not necessary or even the goal, but there’s something satisfying about that type of repurposing and sculpting.

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