Skull and Wing Bone Hybrid – Tan and Blue-Green

Skull and bird wing bone hybrid against light blue background. Surreal art by Joseph Westrupp.

Title: Halo Five.

It started with a single circle for a halo, then I added another within because it looked a bit more interesting. Then, shit, why not keep extending them out the side? And four more were added.

I’ve always loved shapes, lines, and geometry, but I didn’t foresee the total pivot that would stem from that seemingly minor compositional experiment.

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Skull and Wing Bone Hybrid – Tan and Blue

Skull and bird wing bone hybrid against dark blue background. Surreal art by Joseph Westrupp.

Title: Halo Four.

Why did I think to put a halo around this guy’s head? Same reason as most of what I do in my art—experimentation.

And that’s hugely expedited by the digital medium and its key trick: the undo button. It has other benefits like no requirement for storing canvases etc, but it’s the undo button that makes the prospect of going back to painting entirely unappealing.

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Skull and Wing Bone Hybrid – Brown Monochrome

Skull and bird wing bone hybrid in brown monochrome. Surreal art by Joseph Westrupp.

Title: Halo Three.

I used this skull first in Man Vs Shark, a very different type of image.

(Or is it? Maybe they’re indistinguishable from the outside. From my perspective there’s a lot of ground between them, with Man Vs Shark more aiming toward presenting the illusion of a real photo, albeit surreal, and this one more abstract.)

The skull is from a public domain photo.

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Skull and Wing Bone Hybrid – Blue and Red

Skull and bird wing bone hybrid against pink/apricot background. Surreal art by Joseph Westrupp.

Title: Halo Two.

Where do you go when you’ve done traditional Gothic skull imagery, then more light-hearted skull-based surrealism?

My answer was to keep the skulls and surrealism, and add more bones. The last works of my skull phase mostly fell into this pattern, before the geometric abstract angle subsumed even the skulls.

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Skull and Wing Bone Hybrid – Tan and Green

Skull and bird wing bone hybrid against green background. Surreal art by Joseph Westrupp.

Title: Halo One.

After initial hesitancy with color variations, for this series I went for it. I’m not sure where the inspiration came from—getting colors to work isn’t the easiest—but they flowed readily.

I’ve never done so many, and don’t plan to as a matter of course, but it seemed to be the right thing to do in this case. And I’m not one to second guess my muse, especially when it has a skull face fused to a bird wing, and a none-too-friendly stare.

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Skull and Wing Bone Hybrid – Black and White

Skull and bird wing bone hybrid in black and white. Surreal art by Joseph Westrupp.

Title: Halo Six. Part descriptive, and part Nine Inch Nails tribute (a quirk of which being that each record is assigned a consecutive ‘halo’ number. I don’t know the back story, but it sounds cool anyway).

I mentioned in my post about Circa A that it was one of the earliest uses of geometric elements in the composition, but I think this series of six is the earliest, with Halo One being the actual first.

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Blue Abstract Skull and Lines on Pink

Blue skull with geometric lines extending from teeth, over bare pink background. Surreal art by Joseph Westrupp.

Title: Circa A. This is more poetic than prosaic, I just like the way it sounds. But the ‘circa’ stems from the word circuit, because of the circuit board-like lines. ‘A’ does more than ring nicely in my ears though, it also differentiates it from Circa B, which is a variation with a blue background.

This is one of the earliest examples of my burgeoning love of geometry juxtaposed on photography (which I expound on in the post on Circa B linked above).

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Blue Abstract Skull and Lines

Blue skull with geometric lines extending from teeth, over bare blue background. Surreal art by Joseph Westrupp.

Title: Circa B.

As I mentioned in my post about the pink version, Circa A, this is one of the earliest examples of my juxtaposing geometry on photography.

It was a minor dalliance initially, but began to seem like a non-negotiable part of making art. I just love the way it looks. Plus its latitude is vast, something that couldn’t be said of some other directions I’ve gone. Well, at least if you go even more abstract than here, such as in all this work.

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Tan Skull Floating Over Blue Space

Tan skull floating in bare blue space. Surreal art by Joseph Westrupp.

Title: Blue Altitude, simultaneously literal and poetic.

Insofar as a skull can look pensive, this one is. It’s probably thinking about its prior situation being mounted on a museum wall, till I came along and liberated it via photography and editing software.

Much better to be hovering around in nondescript blue-green space with no mounting brackets screwed onto your head.

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Skull With Mouth Merged Into Spiked Bone – Sepia on Blue

Skull with mouth merged into a bone with spikes at the end, on a textured blue background. Surreal art by Joseph Westrupp.

Title: Blue Syzygy.

This series marks the end of a creative era. Or error, depending on how you feel about skulls. But based on this stint and the reactions it elicited, there’s a high chance you’re not quite as enamored of them as I am.

Mind you, there’s a segment of the population who’re there with me—so maybe you’re one of them if you’re reading this. Certainly I found huge groups of skull art enthusiasts on Facebook at the time.

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