Experiments in Notan
Submitted by Pear-pear on January 26, 2008 - 13:11
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.