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Exploring ‘Notan Painting Strategy’

As a self-taught artist, I try to continually learn and refine my skills.  I wrote in an earlier blog post an analogy between creating a beautiful life as one navigates life’s peaks and valleys to lights and darks help in creating a beautiful painting.

I was reminded of how important contrast and composition are in paintings so I decided to give myself a refresher on focusing on the underlying composition.

I came across this painting tutorial so practiced the Notan painting strategy suggested in this lesson.   Notan is pronounced No- tan and means just that No tan or strictly black and white.  The lesson suggests taking an image and reducing it to black and white so you can focus on the underlying composition.

I’ll share my initial work here:

I took an image and cropped it closely until I liked it.  I painted a rough draft in black and white on a small board– think this is 5 x 7.  The dimensions didn’t translate exactly to my reference so the proportions are slightly off… you can make it easier on yourself and make sure your reference ratio and your ‘thumbnail’ ratios match!  🙂

I did this exercise again on a larger board (with correct ratios) and painted in black and white again.

This was really good practice… I tend to paint fast and light to get right into the color so forcing myself to only see the image in black and white and in values only is very good for me!!  

In this next image, I wanted to show you as I added some color to the smaller practice board….

I found this to be a good experience…and I liked the end results.  I will paint the larger board and show you soon.  I put this 5 x 7 up on my etsy shop if you happen to be interested.  🙂

Take care!

Sue Steiner

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