Notan is a Japanese design concept that focuses on the interplay between dark and light and how the resulting contrast enhances the design. It is also a great opportunity to learn about positive and negative shapes. Notan is typically achieved with paint, ink, or cut paper. My students worked with cut paper. We started this project by making small pieces, and then we went BIG! The leaves in the center of the bulletin display are fluid and organic, as are the waves in two of the corners. Then there are the geometric shapes in the opposite two corners. This only added to our discussion about contrast. Not only do we have color contrast with the black and white, now we have contrast between the basic shapes in the overall design. Nice work, everyone!
Gyotaku, or fish rubbings, originated in Japan in the mid-nineteenth century. Fisherman wanted to record the type and the size of their catch, so they would lay the fish on a block of wood, ink it up and make a rubbing or print of the fish. Gyotaku is now a popular art form in many countries, and it can also be found on various items from clothing to surfboards. Here at our school we have a wonderful variety of rubber fish made specifically for gyotaku projects. We can use the fish again and again, and they don't stink!