Composition In Art – What Is Notan?

by Neadeen Masters on June 8, 2012

Notan Is a Design Element used for creating composition in art

The Japanese use the term ‘Notan’ to describe an important element of design. This concept involves the play of light versus dark. Notan means dark versus light harmony. The Japanese concept of two value Notan uses the simple concept of contrasting light and dark shapes. In other words,  black versus white.  Notan  is also used to establish balance in a painting’s composition. There are many artistic concepts that we can use to build a good composition in art. However this one easily develops a path of light. We must always remember that creating good composition in art is about using several different artistic concepts. Some concepts help with color balance and harmony, and some with movement and line.

Two Value Notan - Art Apprentice Online Two Value Notan – Art Apprentice Online – Composition In Art


Good Composition In Art depends on the correct use of movement. 

The Japanese also believed that contrast between strong light and  dark edges pulled the viewer’s eye along a path. The result created eye movement. Depending on how the light and dark space was divided up, it could be used to create balance or tension. Today many modern day artists use this Japanese compositional concept of ‘Notan’.  In the example above, by reducing the photograph to the basic light dark shapes, the artist is able to see if the arrangement of light and dark will lead to balance and  harmony. What do you think?

Learn all you can about Composition in Art

To learn more about this valuable design concept, join us for an amazing online art class where artist teacher Linda Wise will teach you how to use Notan and Value to create the basic structure for a painting. This online art class as well as many others are packed with great information that you will use for composition in art.

What Is Notan? - Mexican Sunset - Linda Wise - Art Apprentice Online What Is Notan? – Mexican Sunset – Linda Wise – Composition In Art

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