What IS Abstract?

Abstract can often be seen as the enigma in the art world, especially to those unfamiliar with the practice. For those who enjoy realism, abstract can be an exceptionally hard task and enjoying it even more of a challenge. When a piece becomes unidentifiable with its objects, abstract can often seen as a splash of color and shapes on a canvas, leaving some to wonder if the artist sneezed during the process. Other pieces such as in music can sound like nails on a chalkboard. In writing and dance, the practice can either be amazing or a horrid mess. Despite its obscurity, abstract has a large territory of helpful concepts, often looked over whether it be contemporary or modern abstract art.

Abstract: The dictionary standard

“Art that does not attempt to represent external reality, but seeks to achieve its effect using shapes, forms, colors, and textures” ( provided by Google).

Often, dictionary explanations can be as much of an enigma as the word ‘abstract’. This is the same problem many people face, especially when learning as an artist.

Then, What is Abstract?

A professor clearly described to me in detail what abstract is, especially when I asked him ‘What goes through your mind as you’re creating an abstract piece?‘. After focusing on realistic textures and forms, abstract really was a unanswered art question on my mind. For many years abstract had been described as a ‘form of abstract representation using color and unidentifiable forms’, a definition similar to most mainstream descriptions. But, abstract is more. My professor described abstract in detail as “an expression”, impacted by how a piece is crafted. Breaking down our conversation, abstract can be understood through its three main elements: Shape, Color and Texture.
The three are often a balance in abstract, and a successful piece will often express all three to portray its desired message. Just ask the three-legged stool. It will not stand on one or two legs.

How does abstract work?

Our senses are a wonderful door to understanding abstract things, whether it be music, writing a form of visual art. When we hear or see something, our brain automatically interprets the stimuli whether they consciously acknowledge it or not.

Shape can take a few forms depending on what type of art it is. For music, shape typically applies the sequence of musical changes that apply to the melody, harmony and theme. In dancing it can be the movements, a factor parallel to artwork as certain colors or patterns lead an audience’s eye around a painting. Writing has its own unique shape in its story structure, and can be enriched based on the intricacy of the story line. Mixing all three together, shape is how a art piece is observed and can frame a audience’s perspective.


Color is another element which highly impacts someone’s perspective. For music, the tone color can make a piece seem happy or sad. In writing, the use or lack of detail can create the visual details a audience sees such as the use of words to describe a ‘dull muddy desert’. Between dancing and artwork, the use of color meaning can create different perceptions to different cultures.

The intensity of color also takes a significant role in conscious and unconscious perception. A vibrant red can be angry and aggressive while its light counter part like pink can seem delicate and feminine. A deep sea blue can seem bottomless while a light blue can be calming. My favorite website for reference on color theory is here:


Try some colors out and see how it makes you feel! No two eyes are alike.


Texture seems like the most obvious to define but it can be impacted by the level of detail, stroke speed and pattern. A fast movement like a brush stroke, sentence, dance move or musical sequence can make a piece seem hasty and urgent, even slightly aggressive. A slow can seem peaceful and possibly comforting and honest.

How can I do an abstract piece?

Abstract is all about evoking emotion or conveying a feeling. The best way to know of  is to test it out.

Copyright Ven Tuskain 2016

Jumping In

It’s a funny feeling, stepping back into the blogging world. The foreign air grows with the length of time spent away, like the feeling of your feet sprawling over the putrid and oozing ABC gum. On the other hand, it can be a wonderful opportunity for growth. After all, you learn through your experiences and reflections.

I learned quite a bit, but the idea of posting is a bit like a four headed toad. I know it exists and yet I’ve let it slide a bit to the wayside. My experiments with 3d in material and digital forms were good enough to be freeform for future alien movies. Lets just say I had a lot of scrap pile pieces for the ‘to be adopted on future reference’ slush.

The important thing though, despite the mellow lows is doing something and accomplish anything. Time can move fast and it seems to move faster the older we get.

So here it begins. The first step to my (much) more frequent updates.

Revamp, Renew, Redo

It’s a new eventful year even though its already April.

Recently in March I participated in a juried art show, with a couple of my pieces making it into the show. Here is one of them.

Road to Eden© Ven Tuskain, 2014

It was a themed based piece, as the requirements were based on a section of Milton’s Paradise Lost.  It is a linocut print at the plate size of 8X10″.

Aside from that, both Kira Stann and I are working together on a few books.

More artwork is to come.