Oil Painting Techniques:
What is Notan?
Why do certain paintings win art competitions? The answer lies a lot in the harmonious arrangement of black, white, and gray in the painting. A synthetic arrangement of dark and light creates an impression of beauty, regardless of either the colors used or of the subject matter. This is called 'notan' from the Japanese word that means dark/light harmony.
What is Notan? - Video Example
How To Do It
Step 1 - Do a series of Notan paintings using grey and black pens to get an idea for the dark and light shapes in your composition.
Step 2 - Analyze your black and white notan studies and pick the design you think has the best composition.
Step 3 - Here is the final notan study for one of Barry's paintings that won an award in a plein air competition many years ago. If you look at the final painting and a black and white version of it, you can see that the small notan sketch captured the essence of its dark light harmony.
Here is the final painting below:
You can see the notan structue when the painting is transferred back into black and white:
Note: To learn more about detailed notan design principles, to describe forms and texture, see the notan lessons in Workshops A,B,C and E of the Virtual Art Academy Apprentice Program.
Copyright © 2004-2017 Barry John Raybould, Virtual Art Academy, Inc., Panama City, Rep.de Panama