Notan is a Japanese concept that focuses on the play of light and dark.  This fun cut paper heart uses the classic heart shape and combines it with a bright and beautiful watercolor background.

Supplies for this Notan heart painting…

The bare bones of this project are paper, scissors, and glue.  Any paper in contrasting colors will make the repeating heart shapes “pop.” Grab construction paper or colored copy paper- this Astrobright selection is my favorite!

The examples use watercolor paintings done on student grade watercolor. (It’s totally worth the slight bump in price, I promise!) And if you choose to incorporate painted paper you will, of course, need paints!

pink and purple watercolor paintings

Painting with watercolors…

Traditional Notan art doesn’t include a variety of textures or color. It’s all about bold shapes and the contrast of light and dark.  I love the addition of color and texture to this cut paper art- but you can choose your path here!

Encourage your kiddos to choose a color scheme.  The examples here are painted in analogous colors.  Check out this color theory printable for more information on color schemes and color theory.

The fun textures in the paintings are easy watercolor techniques that involve plastic wrap and salt in wet watercolor paint. These techniques are so simple but result in such striking textures! Get the details on these watercolor techniques and more in this post!

two half heart shapes on watercolor pink and purple background

Cut paper hearts…

Start with the same size paper for the cut paper heart as was used in the background.  Fold the paper in half and cut a heart shape. Cut that paper heart in half on the fold line, or the line of symmetry.

Set one half of the heart aside. You will need only one side of the heart shape for this project!

Notan hearts…

Now that you have half a heart shape- every piece of that shape will be included in the art work.  Follow alongside the outside edge of the heart, cutting a heart outline about 1/2″ to 1″ thick.  These pieces can be thicker or thinner depending on how intricate the final piece will be.

Now here’s the really, really important part. Arrange each piece of the heart on the paper as a mirror image. Cut one piece and then immediately flip it, like a mirror, directly across from the piece from which it was cut.  Then cut another piece from the larger shape and do the same, assembling as you go.

Assembling 5-6 random pieces can be very difficult.  (Especially if your paper looks the same front and back!) Trust me you want to keep track of the pieces as you work!) Don’t worry about gluing anything yet, just keep laying them in place.

cut paper heart shape with watercolor background

Glue the cut paper heart…

When each piece of the heart is cut and arranged on your bright and beautiful background its time to glue!  Start by gluing one side of the heart and then move to the next largest heart shape and arrange it so that the inside points touch.  Line up each piece of the heart shapes on the of symmetry of the heart.  (If your kids aren’t familiar with the concept of symmetry check out this free printable on the concept of symmetry.)

Move back and forth from one side to the next, lining them up.

Want to make your Notan heart right alongside me…

Do you love learning by watching?  As an art teacher I find that video can be worth a thousand words.  Follow along with the video above and I’ll show you the process to create your own Notan heart art, step by step!

cut paper heart art with pink and purple watercolor background

More heart art…

Check out this stained glass inspired heart painting!

These cut paper heart cards are so easy and so boldly striking!

These woven watercolor hearts are so pretty and great practice at basic weaving skills!

These DIY ring dishes are so simple- the only decoration needed is a single heart made from fingerprints!

Notan cut paper heart art with pink watercolor background

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