Skull Floating in Angkor Wat

Skull floating in Angkor Wat temple complex, Cambodia. Surreal art by Joseph Westrupp.

Title: Cambodian Blue.

This is take number two on this idea. The first was a different base image, different part of the temple, and different skull. Same color scheme, though.

I spend ages composing and polishing it, then realized it was just wrong. Weird composition, unfortunate lighting with a lot of shadow on one side, and the blue skull looked out of place.

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Skull Hovering Over Ocean in Rarotonga

Skull hovering over ocean in Rarotonga, surreal art by Joseph Westrupp.

Title: Introlevity, a combination of ‘introspection’ and ‘levity’. ‘Levity’ obviously because the skull is hovering, and ‘introspection’ because it seems to have a pensive and thoughtful look about it (insofar as it’s possible for skulls to look thoughtful).

The colors were the easiest thing to get to a point I was happy with. The contrast and tone were far more tricky because although it looks like a simple scene, there are a lot of shapes and busyness in the clouds.

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Eroded Skull in Blue and Orange

Eroded skull with parts of face missing, art photograph in blue and orange by Joseph Westrupp.

Title: Erosion.

The photo was taken in the Catacombs of Paris, and actually includes three other skulls. I isolated this one because its form fascinates me, even if it’s rather sinister. Though I think the pretty colors ameliorate that to some degree.

The blurring towards the top of the skull was the result of some serendipitous experimentation. During editing I couldn’t get it to look quite right, but when I tried that blurring effect everything clicked. Nice when things like that happen—I was getting quite close to abandoning the project.

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Skull With Centipede as Spine

Skull with a centipede spine. Surreal art in red and green Christmas colors, by Joseph Westrupp.

Title: Christmas. Quite a wry appellation here, solely in reference to the image’s colors. They’re loosely Christmasy, but I more just found it amusing to call such a horrifying picture Christmas.

The underlying centipede photo was taken at a museum if I recall. Likely the skull too, though I’m struggling to pinpoint the location.

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Yellow Skull on Red-Striped Pole

Yellow skull on red-striped pole, surreal art by Joseph Westrupp.

Title: Sunshine. This title is a bit surreal now, and relates more directly to an earlier edit of this picture. The image changed a lot over time; I made a new version whenever there was a major shift in my style.

“Sunshine” occurred to me when the skull was yellower previously. But I decided to keep it even if now it seems a bit odd—I like curious juxtapositions like that.

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Skull Floating Over Ho Chi Minh City

Skull floating over Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, surreal artwork by Joseph Westrupp.

Title: Godseye.

There are two versions of this, the second, Godseye 2, being in black and white. This is one of those fairly rare images that work both with and without color.

But as is usually the case, it wasn’t just a matter of color desaturation. The contrast had to be increased to look right in the black and white version, too.

I wrote about the difficulty of the tilt-shift effect in my post about Godseye 2, so I won’t repeat that here. Suffice to say it was rather involved.

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Skull Floating Over Ho Chi Minh City – Black and White

Skull floating over Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, surreal artwork in black and white by Joseph Westrupp.

Title: Godseye 2. The 2 is due to this being the second iteration (to state the obvious). The first is in color.

I seem to like breaking off a lot to chew… The tilt-shift effect—ie, the blurring—is entirely fabricated. For those who’ve never heard of it, real tilt-shift is created by a special camera lens. The problem is in determining which parts of the image would be blurred with a tilt-shift lens.

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Skull on Textured Cream and Purple

Skull on textured cream and purple background. Art photograph by Joseph Westrupp.

Title: Classical Levity. ‘Classical’ because the image brings to mind ancient Rome and old paintings. Not even exactly sure why, perhaps the colors.

All my artwork involves a lot of experimentation, but this one even more so than usual. I slowly built up the textures, which, as well as adding a canvas-like look, had a strong influence on the direction of the color.

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