Light and Dark: Notan

Notan is a Japanese paper art that plays with light and dark.  “Notan” means “light-dark harmony” in Japanese. There are guidelines, of course, and as I usually do, I stuck with them for the first go-around. After this, I may bend the strict rules a bit.

I used a square about 5 inches (13 c.) on a side. I used black art paper because construction paper is too soft and tears too easily. Canson makes a good black paper. So does Arches.

Notan 1. © Quinn McDonald, 2016. All rights reserved.

Notan 1. © Quinn McDonald, 2016. All rights reserved.

The idea of playing with balance, with light and dark, is intriguing. We all have a dark side, which means we all have a light side, as well. Art imitates life, again.

Here is a video for complex shapes.

Here’s another one with more explanation of symmetry and positive and negative space.

I started simple, because I have some spatial relationship problems. And I like understanding where I’m going.

Some tips:

  • Keep the cut-out portions limited to the side of the paper you are working on. Don’t go beyond the middle of the square.
  • Don’t cut off the corners of the square. Because this art requires dark and light to mirror each other, your eye needs to “see” the line completed.
  • You can use scissors, but a craft knife will be easier once you get better.

–Quinn McDonald is a writer, a poetic medicine practitioner, and a creativity coach.

Book Giveaway: Creative Strength Training

I’m giving away (and reviewing) Jane Dunnewold’s book on  my other site.  There are a lot of readers on this site who will want to read the book, too.

Here’s the beginning of the review. At the end, there is a link to the other blog site, so you can leave a comment there for the giveaway. Please do not leave a comment here–the winner will be chosen from the other site.

“There are a lot of books on creativity that combine art-making exercises with encouragement.  All the more reason to love a new book that is wonderful, tempting, helpful and encouraging. When it turns out to do what it promises–help you become creatively stronger, more sure or your creativity, and more curious about the world around you–it’s a keeper. One you will want to read quickly, just to enjoy, then read more slowly to work through and use regularly.

Creative Strength Training: Prompts, Exercises and Personal Stories for Encouraging Artistic Genius by Jane Dunnewold is just that book. You will find yourself nodding your head in recognition. ”  Continue reading the review here.

Notes on Survival (Poem)

Milkweed pod, Montana.

Milkweed pod, Montana. © Quinn McDonald, 2016. All rights reserved.

When my parents arrived in this country, they had been allowed to bring three crates of items. Those crates contained their entire life–for two adults and two children. Bedding, clothing, pots and pans, dishes, important papers, books, photos, toys. Three crates. Although I was born later, the impossibility of the decisions of what to pack stuck with me.

As a child, I played a game– what I would pack if I had to leave quickly and go to a new place? This poem is rooted in that memory.

 

 

Seed Pod: Notes for Survival
I left dawn behind, but took the last star in the sky
I left the sun behind, but took the ragged fringe of shade
I left the fragrant, blooming tree,
but stole the hanging seed and packed it.

The smooth seedpod holds the wisdom
of casting shade and woven nests,
Going back ten thousand years
Folded in its traveler’s shell.

Still willing, when it hits the ground
(at last)
To send out an exploratory root,
To test the ground for possible survival.
It has one chance to birth a branch
Fed by a dream of stars held in its crown
A filigree of shade laid on the ground
And then, to birth another seed to pack.
© Quinn McDonald, 2016. All rights reserved. No use without express written permission.