Notan (濃淡)

4th Grade Art | Mrs. Martin

geometric contrast gif

What is a notan?

  • 濃淡 Japanese for "light-dark harmony"
  • concept involving the arrangement of light and dark values as they are placed next to the other in the composition
  • illustrates positive and negative space through the use of high contrast shapes
  • "the principle of Notan can be found in art from around the world: the graphic designs of Pueblo pottery in New Mexico, molas (appliqué fabric collages) from Chile and Peru, and paper cutouts from Poland and China (Dalton 2009)"

Image Resource: Teach and Shoot, May 1, 2014

Word Work (Day 1)

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geometric shapes

Mathematically precise shapes: circle: square, triangle, rectangle; primarily man-made

free-form shapes

Two dimensional images made of straight or curved lines or a combination of both; often found in nature

Image Resource: Henri Matisse, La Gerbe (1953)

geometric vs. free-form

Which one in each image is free-form? The left or the right?

symmetry/central axis

Axis of symmetry | Transformations | Geometry | Khan Academy

Work Work (Day 2)

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Positive Space defined - From Goodbye-Art Academy
Negative Space defined - From Goodbye-Art Academy

Note Sheets

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How to make a Notan

How to Make a Notan


(2009). Retrieved 12 September 2016, from

How to Make a Notan. (2013). YouTube. Retrieved 24 September 2016, from

(2011). Retrieved 26 June 2012, from

SchoolArts Magazine - AUG-SEP 2007. (2007). Retrieved 12 September 2016, from

Teach and Shoot. (2014) Retrieved 11 March 2015, from