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Experiments in Notan

Notan on the breakfast table

So, somebody went and bought Dover Thrift's reprint of Arthur Wesley Dow's Composition: Understanding Line, Notan and Color. And that somebody was me. After reading about notan (the japanese word for light/dark balance), I had to play with it. So I sketched the above thumbnails. Intrigued by the possibilities, but not satisfied with the results, I kept experimenting.

In comics 50, 51, and 52, I think Dow has helped me make more conscious choices where before I was intuiting and my composition was hit or miss. Luckily for me I had just introduced the perculator, who lends himself to notan, what with being about a third solid black. And finally, in these last few I'm trying to have the graphics within the speech bubbles respond more directly to the overall composition of the panel, while also cohering as self-contained compositions.

But Dow has me intrigued on a deeper level. If I were still in grad school I would probably already be researching to explore whether or not Dow was influenced directly or indirectly by Saussure's notions of how meaning is constructed, because the way Dow explains the construction of beauty in the visual arts may as well be in the same terms. Reading Dow has made me wonder whether within a postmodern framework, beauty can be truth, and truth beauty.

Re: Experiments in Notan

Derik Badman's picture

Hey pear-pear (don't know your real name)

 Thanks for pointing out this book, I'll have to check it out.

#52 is quite successful in balancing the black in the balloon with that black object (book?) going off the edge on thr right. It works nicely for the way one would read the panel (left to right) with Pear's gaze leading us off to the right from the balloon.

Derik A Badman

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