Skull With Bones as Teeth – Red and Gold

Skull with bones as teeth. Surreal art in red and gold by Joseph Westrupp.

Title: Homo Spidercus Red.

The base skull photograph was taken in the Paris Catacombs (part of the remains of more than 6,000,000 people there), and was used for Blue Bottle also.

There’s a black and white version of this named Homo Spidercus, which was actually the first. It’s normally the other way around, but I made the black and white intending it to be the only one, then for some reason redid it in color a couple of months down the track.

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Giant Skull Floating Over NZ Road – Black and White

Giant skull floating over a country road in New Zealand, surreal art in black and white by Joseph Westrupp.

Title: Cranium Volito in Black. As well as adding a gothic patina, the word black serves to reflect the lack of color, and differentiate from the color version, Cranium Volito.

This has the same base image as Cranium Impedimentum (Paekakariki Hill Road in New Zealand), and if you’re curious about about the technical aspects of creating the shadow from scratch, I went into that in my post on the color version.

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Skull With Geometric Art Deco Lines

Skull with geometric art deco lines. Surreal art in light pastel colors, by Joseph Westrupp.

Title: Three Roads Diverged, a play on the first line of Robert Frost’s poem The Road Not Taken, “two roads diverged in a yellow wood…”

This was the end of a phase in which I got more and more enamored of super-light pastel colors, and pushing how little contrast I could get away with in my art. I’ve since swung back more to the center, particularly with respect to contrast, but have yet to shake the love of pastel tones.

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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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