Notan is a Japanese word for the interaction between light and dark. This project uses paper and pen to create some simple but stunning Notan paper art.
What is Notan paper art?
Notan is a Japanese design concept that relates to the play of light and dark and how they are placed next to each other. The positive shapes (main objects) in a work of art should balance or complement the negative shapes (the empty space around the main objects.)
Notan art traditionally uses paint, ink or cut paper. In this case we will be using cut paper with a few non traditional doodles thrown in for fun!
What you need….
I adore the simplicity of this project’s supply list. It is perfect for those days when you have a short time to fill or just cannot stand one more mess.
The big idea….
The big idea here is the narrow piece of black paper will be centered on the larger white piece of paper. Pieces of the black paper will be cut out and placed mirror image style from the spot where they were cut.
I find it simplest to cut one black piece at a time and lay in the approximate spot they will go. Take turns cutting shapes from one side to the other to achieve a “mostly” balanced look.
When all shapes are cut glue the long black column in it’s spot down the middle of the white paper. Lay each cut shape exactly in it’s spot, as if you were filling it in like a puzzle. The side that is facing up can have glue applied with a glue stick. Then flip it to it’s mirror image and glue down.
Laying them all in the spot they were cut out of means the right side is automatically to receive glue is automatically up and there is no accidentally applying glue to the wrong side. It’s a bit of an extra step bit it’s worth it!
An nontraditional addition to Notan paper art….
At this point your Notan art is already striking and no doubt has many interesting shapes. Play with the balance of light and dark even further by adding some “zentangle-ish” doodles to the white spaces in the center column.
A true zentangle is only black and white. It is a small square and is completely non representative. This project doesn’t truly qualify as a “zentangle.” We are just borrowing from the spirit of the doodle here.
Fill each white space with a doodle all it’s own that also portrays a balanced mix of black and white. Encourage your students to consider all different types of line qualities; fat, thin, curvy, spiky. Play with the lines. Add a little at a time till balance is achieved.
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