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.

Advertisements