Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Principle One: Interplay of Space

The most basic art-toon design principle is that of NOTAN. A Japanese word, Notan means the interplay of space: of the light (positive) and of the dark (negative). Notan is not just about the relationship between figure and ground; it concerns the weaving together of movement and statis, of asymmetry and balance, where light and dark dance with each other as complements, not in conflict. As the authors warn the Western reader:

"[Our] culture thinks in terms of opposed dualities and attaches the moral values of good to the positive, of bad to the negative. Or we seize upon the positive as the only reality and dismiss the negative as invisible and nonexistent.

"To understand Notan, therefore, requires a special effort on our part; it demands a totally new orientation to seeing. Nevertheless, the effort is well worth the while if it enables us to see Notan--the basis of all good design--as it exists all around us."

Since a picture is worth 1000 words, I will be posting my experiments with Notan here. These drawings, which I term "Noodling & Doodling" (thanks to Bert Dodson, author of "Keys to Drawing with Imagination) are not meant to be copied but can be used to spur your own creative juices. 

I've been playing with the process of Zendalas, morphing of Zentangles, stencil designs, and am finding early doodles that I'm going to post here.


Book Title: "Notan: The Dark-Light Principle of Design"
Authors: Dorr Bothwell and Marlys Mayfield
Date/Publisher: 1991; Dover Pulications, Inc.; New York
Copyright: 1968 by Litton Educational Publishing, Inc.

Book Title: "Keys to Drawing with Imagination: Strategies and Exercises for Gaining Confidence and Enhancing your Creativity"
Author: Bert Dodson
Publisher: North Light Books; Ohio
Copyright: 2007