27 Apr 2013

A note on Notan


This week’s obsession has been notan. A word that I’ve come across only recently, but a style that is prominent in a lot of my work. My diary sketches are just one example. Notan is black & white, or a composition with a harmonious balance of dark and light values. Successful notan is more about design – designing the spaces on your canvas. As a landscape architect I'm trained to design space in the landscape, and subconsciously I probably transfer the same principles onto 2D compositions. In the days before CAD (computer aided design) the layout and drawing of plans using only a black Rotaring pen was good grounding for notan, especially if you only had a black and white printer and were hopeless at Pantone pens like me. I have realised that if I start and finish a painting in colour, I ignore “design” in terms of value, whereas perhaps my monotone work is more successful. I’ve collected a few notan images on a Pinterest board and have been looking through eyes with notan filters all week! I’m also been helping my parents have a declutter, and have unearthered more examples of my very early notan tendencies, including wine labels I made for my late grandfather’s homemade wine, and here are some more from this century...



4 comments:

PatsyColchester said...

Oh yes.. decluttering is usually rewarding ;)

Londubhlad said...

Jane and I are well up on Notan - because that's what you get when you live in Caithness - NO Tan!!

angela j simpson said...

Oh very good Ian! You'll be just as familiar with windtan then?

Nic McLean said...

You learn something new every day - never heard the word notan before! Your black and white work reminds me of the very old style pen and ink line drawings that ye olde books would have been illustrated with - very detailed and beautiful.