Monday, December 17, 2018

Forty Years #29: Notan

In the fall of 1985, I took a weekend workshop in Boston with Jenny Hunter Groat on Notan, the Japanese design principle based on the interaction of dark (no) and light (tan). I had first encountered the concept in a design class with Brenda Lowen-Siegel at the DeCordova Museum in Lincoln, MA. I loved Jenny's workshop and I loved Jenny, especially the philosophical depth she brought to the study of calligraphy and design. For her, Notan extended beyond the page and into life. From her experience with Zen Buddhism and Jungian analysis, she saw Notan as more than a design principle. It spoke to her of the importance of acknowledging and balancing light and dark, positive and negative, in all aspects of life.
If you are interested in exploring this Japanese design principle, I recommend Notan by Dorr Bothwell which has been reissued by Dover Art Instruction.

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