• Notan: The Dark-Light Principle of Design

Notan: The Dark-Light Principle of Design

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By Dorr Bothwell and Marlys Mayfield

Nōtan (a Japanese word meaning dark-light) focuses on the interaction between positive and negative space, a relationship embodied in the ancient symbolism of the Yang and the Yin. In composition, it recognizes the separate but equally important identity of both a shape and its background.

The intriguing exercises associated with nōtan have produced striking results in art and design. This book, by two American artists and teachers who made an intensive study of nōtan, was the first basic book on the subject for English-speakers, and it remains one of the definitive texts.

Clearly and concisely, the authors demonstrate nōtan's practical applications in six problems of progressive difficulty.

Along with these exercises, the book illustrates the principle of nōtan, with a host of varied images: a sculpture by David Smith, a Samoan tapa cloth, a Museum of Modern Art shopping bag, New England gravestone rubbings, Japanese wrapping paper, a painting by Robert Motherwell, a psychedelic poster, and a carved and dyed Nigerian calabash. 

Traditionally applied to paint, ink or cut paper, nōtan has practical applications for a number of contemporary image-making techniques, including lithography, rotoscoping, animation, and digital graphics.

Published by Dover Publications
Reprint of 1968 edition, published by Reinhold Book Company

Softcover, 80 pages, b&w, 8.4 × 8.5 inches

ISBN: 978-0-48-626856-9

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