Tuesday, October 12, 2010


What is Notan?

Notan: Design in Light and Dark 

by Sharon Himes

What is dark is not light and what is light is not dark. This is the basis of all design and an important guiding principle of art. It seems so simple but an artist can spend a lifetime exploring the possibilities of light and dark.
“Notan” is the term used by the Japanese to express “light-dark” as an element of design. In the west we use separate terms such as positive space and negative space, dividing the idea of light-dark into separate components. On paper it is easy to see that dark shapes cannot exist without a surrounding area of white. White shapes cannot exist without dark to define it. The two elements are really one. This is an eastern concept of yin-yang that each is what the other is not.


Jaynah Holst-- Zane Middle School--Eureka, CA

Other examples showing an abstract look: (from Joel Sampson's website Collage College)

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