Though Tolkien's artwork tended toward the figural, there was a period during his undergraduate years in which he created abstracts under the name of "Ishnesses." This essay examines the nature of abstraction, how it relates to medieval concepts of art, and how it relates to Tolkien's "visionary" painting of subjects not in the primary world but in the Middle-earth of his vast imagination.
Fore and Aft: Abstraction, Vanishing Point and Symmetry in Tolkien’s “Ishness” Designs
Holmes, John R.
"Fore and Aft: Abstraction in Tolkien’s “Ishness” Designs,"
Journal of Tolkien Research: Vol. 7
, Article 8.
Available at: https://scholar.valpo.edu/journaloftolkienresearch/vol7/iss1/8