Skip to content

What is Abstract Art?

Abstract art is often misunderstood. Some people feel that art should be realistic paintings of beautiful landscapesor pensive portraits, like a story on canvas, not a bunch of lines, shapes and colors. But if Realism is like a story, then Abstract art is like poetry — each line, shape, color and texture carefully placed to express raw human emotions and complex concepts.

Whatever your medium of choice, Arteza offers a wide variety of to help you let your creativity run wild.

Abstract Meaning

The word ‘abstract’ means to remove or consider something separately from something else. When applied to art it refers to work where forms and details have been simplified or arranged schematically. Broadly speaking, abstract art encompasses work that uses marks and shapes that don’t come from anything in real life, such as a car or an apple or a person, art that doesn’t necessarily have a particular subject matter. Because abstract art commonly lacks identifiable form, it is often aimed at an emotional or visceral response. Abstract art forms a major part of modern art.

No experience necessary

The great thing about abstract art is that you don’t have to be able to draw or paint photorealistic pictures to create your own, just a some paint and a great deal of inspiration. Abstract art allows for a lot of freedom of expression because it doesn’t look like anything, it’s not really supposed to. In fact, abstract art can be anything you want it to be, from deeply spiritual to blatantly superficial, there is no ‘right’ way.

This free association is what makes it such a great art movement. The art, especially creating it, is an experience. It’s not like looking at a painting of a tree, where you can see that the artist meant to paint, well, a tree. You know what it is, it’s a tree. A work of abstract art, however, affects each of us in a different way. It stimulates your creativity on a number of levels.

Feel the emotion

Look closely at the works of some of the greats like Piet Mondrian, Mark Rothko, Wassily Kadinsky, Joan Miró, Jasper Johns and Paul Klee and you’ll start to feel the emotion in the paintings. Stand in front of a 10ft tall Rothko painting, look at the textures and carefully placed brush strokes and suddenly it becomes more than just a canvas with a big colorful block. This is one of the reasons why art galleries and museums are often very quiet, to give visitors a chance to take in the art and experience it.

The right notes

Abstract art is like music, especially instrumental music like classical music and jazz, where many different, often seemingly unrelated notes come together to form a harmonious whole. Different shapes, lines, textures, color, and composition come together to create a piece which is like visual music to those who view it.

Abstract Art Techniques

Action Painting

Made famous by painters like Jackson Pollock, Franz Kline and Willem de Kooning, action painting involves splattering or dripping paint or making marks with big gestures. This type of painting is supposed to bring a more spontaneous and physical element to painting.


First used in the modern sense by cubists Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, collage involves creating two-dimensional artworks by putting together a paper of various shapes, sizes and types. This includes everything from newspaper clippings, to photographs, to plain drawing paper or any found paper, to create an image or form.


Where collage involves adding elements together, with decollage it means taking elements away. This involves things like cutting or tearing an original image in order to create a new composition. Many artists first add elements together (like a collage) before using various tools to remove selected segments.


This technique involves putting together different elements to create a three-dimensional form. It is often confused with collage, where only two-dimensional objects are created.


The precursor to what is called ‘color field painting’ (made famous by the likes of Mark Rothko and Barnett Newman), staining was invented by Helen Frankenthaler in the 1950s and involves creating large blocks of evenly spread color by pouring thinned paint over the unprimed canvas.


From etching, screen printing to woodcuts, and silkscreen printmaking in the art sense of the term is the process of printing a two-dimensional image onto a prepared surface or medium. This allows for rapid reproduction of a particular image, the inconsistencies created by the process being of particular importance. Andy Warhol is arguably the most famous artist to have employed printmaking in their work.

Art is something to be experienced, whether it’s music, painting (especially abstract art), dance or even poetry, it taps into our emotions and sparks creativity, it scratches that part of your brain that plays in an alternative reality, and allows us to see things from a different perspective. It is because of this that most artists are inspired by other artists — one artist’s expression is another’s inspiration.

Now go grab a canvas, a piece of paper, some paint, pens or whatever you can get your hands on and let your creativity run wild. But is it art? How is it not art?!
Previous article test
Next article test