Tuesday, August 11, 2015

the power of a notan/ light your painting on fire

Want to light your painting on fire?
 I am going to give you a tip- notan. Yes, I have been taught to do notans for a long time. (And you probably have too.) I have done them in a perfunctory manner, never really getting their full worth. The lightbulb finally turned on last week.
Let me step back a moment....   Once again I traveled to Washington State to paint. I am fortunate to spend a week painting with Richard McKinley each year. He is truly the best teacher/mentor I know. I feel as if it is my check-up with the doctor. I work as his coordinator/assistant. I get to paint each day, hang out with my friends and absorb his wisdom.
This year I (finally) understood the real reason for doing the notan.

Notan is the Japanese word that translates to mean- light and dark harmony. It refers to the arrangement of light and dark that serves as the foundation for composition. With a notan you find the essence of your painting in the design.

To explain, when I began I did a small pencil sketch (top sketch). That complete, I found the major design lines and then made two more sketches with just the lines. Next, on the middle sketch you see I translated the sketch into 4 values -white, medium gray, and small places of darkest dark. (I did an extra one on the side of that) On the bottom sketch I combined the two darkest values and made the design against the white. When I moved to the bottom sketch I saw the need to change some of the placement. Notan makes you look carefully at "what is important? "How do I make my rhythm within the colors and shapes?"

Doing this small addition to your painting set up can change your world!

In the painting above notice how the notan allowed me to alter color so easily. Once you know your value design you can make the painting work, even when you create major changes. This scene was all green.
Let the notan be your guide.
I will post a few of the paintings and their notans for the next few days and you will see what I mean.


Sheri Trepina said...

Thank you for this article and I enjoy the freedom in your work.

stella brookes said...

Very glad I've found you! I've been working with acrylic ink underpainting and pastel this summer, and i think your inspiration will really move me on. Its like you have forged a path in the direction I'd like to go. Thank-you. Stella

loriann signori said...

Hi Sheri and Stella!
Thanks so much for your comments. I am delighted to hear that you like this post. I found that finally understanding this premise is changing the way i think. I hope it does the same for you.