Surreal Abstract Seashell Collage on Rectangle

Blue seashell collage around yellow pinstriped black rectangle. Surreal abstract art by Joseph Westrupp.

The title of this picture is Organon.

Over the course of roughly a week after I thought I’d finalized this image, I kept needing to rework it. Balancing the brightness and colors of the elements proved really tricky, and each time I thought I’d cracked it, I’d wake up the next day with that niggling realization it still wasn’t quite right.

It evolved such that the background became lighter and lighter so as not to be overwhelmed by the blue shells, I introduced the yellow, dialled back the saturation of the colors to fix a cartoony look that had begun to emerge, and added solid black to the rectangle.

But why? Objectively there’s no right way for art to be, especially with abstract work. However, from behind these eyes there absolutely is a right way for it to be, though it’s mysterious and one of those I-know-it-when-I-see-it situations (which makes editing an imprecise and iterative process).

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Surreal Abstract Skull Collage on Rectangle – Black and White

Skull collage on rectangle. Surreal abstract art photo in black and white by Joseph Westrupp.

The title of this picture is Gray Terrain, being the black and white version of Terrain.

At first I thought the collage part of this black and white would have to be a uniform shade instead of the kind of mottled scheme you see here. That proved to look flat though. It ended up being almost a straight desaturation, with those shades of gray corresponding to the colors of the original.

I’m still unable to predict how much work will be required for a black and white conversion. The differentiation color provides has a big effect, and often straight desaturation of the original just yields a muddy mess. That’s because very different colors can look the same when desaturated, because they’re a similar tone (or brightness).

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Surreal Abstract Skull Collage on Rectangle

Blue, red, and yellow skull collage on rectangle. Surreal abstract art photo by Joseph Westrupp.

The title of this picture is Terrain, derived from a knee-jerk response to just looking at the finished product. Parts of the collage remind me of mountains viewed from water. More than that, I like the concept of terrain applied to bone.

Quite unusual use of color for me here, although becoming less so lately. I’m being more drawn toward bold colors, as opposed to the more muted shades I used to favor. I still appreciate a subtly colored photograph, but perhaps there’s something about abstract work that bright, strong tones work especially well for.

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Surreal Abstract Seashell Collage – Black and White

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

The title of this picture is Gray Limen. It’s the black and white counterpart to Limen.

The base photograph is a seashell, heavily cropped and reassembled. Kind of a two dimensional sculpture if you will. Technically it’s probably more accurate to call it a collage, but at least for me that word evokes something different to what I’ve created here. However, I’m no art taxonomist. Short of art classification expertise, let’s just say surreal abstract photography collage sculpture.

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Surreal Abstract Seashell Collage

White seashell collage with lines, on dark blue background. Surreal abstract art by Joseph Westrupp.

The title of this picture is Limen (the li- pronounced as in lie), which means the threshold of perception.

This is another seashell creation. I made extra work by accidentally taking the base photo in the wrong format (JPEG instead of raw). At the time I saw what I’d done and took more photos, but of course the wrong version turned out to be a nicer composition.

JPEG isn’t too bad if everything goes well, but the exposure was off slightly. That meant I had to divert some creative energy to artificially rescuing blown highlights. But I got there in the end, and I’m happy with the result.

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Surreal Abstract Elephant Bone Collage – Orange and Blue-Green

Black and white elephant bone collage on orange rectangles, against blue-green background. Surreal abstract art by Joseph Westrupp.

The title of this picture is Orange Endobrume, a low-key take on Endobrume, which is much lighter with quite a different atmosphere to it.

I’d like to chalk any successful art I do up to sheer talent and skill (though ‘successful’ is a tricky term, being that art is so taste-dependent with no objective good. But let’s say it means a piece meets my sense of aesthetic). And further, the ideal trajectory should be: conceive idea > execute > stand back and admire.

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Surreal Abstract Elephant Bone Collage on Rectangles

Elephant bone collage on rectangles. Surreal abstract art in black and white by Joseph Westrupp.

The title of this picture is White Endobrume.

The bones are cut from a photo of an elephant skull. Despite the crop, it’s still clearly bone. However, the skull part is pretty well obscured at this point, let alone the type of animal it was. That’s because I tend to home in on small parts of photos, isolating shapes I find interesting, sometimes completely changing outlines and manufacturing my own shapes.

Whereas once I’d try to make a complete picture with my camera, now base photos are merely my clay, the first step in a line of editing, composing, and manipulation.

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Surreal Abstract Elephant Bone Collage – Verdigris and Pink

Pink elephant bone collage on rectangles, against verdigris background. Surreal abstract art by Joseph Westrupp.

The title of this picture is Endobrume, which is a term I constructed ad hoc after completing the image. It parses like this: endo is a prefix meaning inside or within, and brume is a French-derived word meaning winter (at least directly; further back it’s Latin). So my idea is that the white area within the bones is winter itself.

Incidentally, I learned another word in doing this image, ‘verdigris’ in the title. It’s tricky coming up with titles for my abstract imagery because so many of them are described by ‘surreal abstract bone collage’, but of course each title has to be different (because each URL has to be different, and the title makes the URL). So I often add colors to differentiate. And that’s what verdigris is—the color that best matches the background here.

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Surreal Abstract Seashell With Rectangles

Red seashell collage with rectangular shapes on blue background. Surreal abstract art by Joseph Westrupp.

The title of this picture is Fugue Mechanics. I’m alluding to the psychiatric sense of fugue here—a state in which someone is apparently conscious of what they’re doing, but has no recollection afterward.

Consciousness, thinking, and brain function are mysterious, and when they go wrong, eery. And mystery and eeriness are two key aspects of surreal art.

Thus if I was to choose a single concept for all my surreal abstracts, it’d be the visual representation of mental workings and brain-states. It’s what consistently comes to mind when I look at them. However, to avoid being parochial in the poetry of my titling I seldom reflect that in my image names. There’s way too much fun to be had in other directions to constantly invoke the same concept.

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Surreal Abstract Seashell With Rectangles – Black and White

Seashell collage with rectangular shapes. Surreal abstract art in black and white by Joseph Westrupp.

The title of this picture is Fugue Mechanics in Black. It’s the companion to Fugue Mechanics, which is vivid red and blue.

This is a simple, minimal composition, thus you’d think quickly conceived and completed. Interestingly, I find getting even a small number of elements to work harmoniously is incredibly time consuming. The fewer compositional elements there are, the more focus each has, making it important to get them right. In and of themselves, but also as a cohesive whole.

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