Tuesday, June 9, 2009


In the colorfulwatercolor group, we are learning a bit about notan. Notan is a Japanese word and the closest translation seems to be no = light; tan = dark. So it is a design element using light and dark. As watercolor artists, we are always working on our values and trying to get our whites pure and sparkling and also having good, strong darks throughout our paintings. So notan fits right in.
What we are doing is this: taking a photograph and unsaturating the color completely in our photo program (whichever one we have) and then amping up the contrast to bring up the blacks. So we have a photo and then a notan photo showing just the whites and blacks.
Then we are to paint the notan photo - not looking at the colored photo, just the notan one as a strong value study with no mid-tones.
This is what I have.

The photo is one shared at watercolorworkshop by Yvonne Carter a long time ago. I thought it was a great photo and intended to try to paint it some day...and that some day is now!

The photoshopped photo (although I don't have PhotoShop, I used my photo manipulation program that came with my camera).

And the painted version of the notan photo, using my own mix to make black (Perinone Orange + Ultramarine Turquoise). I didn't make a big enough, or juicy enough, or concentrated enough puddle of black to work with so it looks a bit greyed in places. But it will work. And I certainly see where I cut too much into the white here to maybe I should do another before beginning the painting...I think I was rushing and not slowing down and looking closely enough.
We have 9 members in the group and it will be interesting to see how the others do their paintings and what they choose to paint.


shicat said...

Hi Rhonda, Very interesting exercise. The photo is beautiful. I am anxious to see your final painting.

Suzanne McDermott said...

Hi Rhonda! I absolutely love your last few posts. It's wonderful that you've shared these processes! Thanks for showing me (us) new approaches to our favorite medium!

Nava said...

This is a fantastic shape to work with, Rhonda! I'm curious to see where you take it.

RHCarpenter said...

Thanks so much, Cathy, Suzanne and Nava, for your comments on this one. I hope to work on it in class today unless I do something else entirely (based on the recent Carla O'Connor DVD I watched the other day)on gessoed watercolor paper. Stay tuned to see what I'm up to next! ha ha

Joan Sandford-Cook said...

Great method of working and I liked the greeny version of black!! Wonder how it will effect your final full colour piece - if that is the plan ?

RHCarpenter said...

Thanks, Joan. I hope I can make something muted when I get to the final painting with color and keep those darks (yes, they do look green, don't they) and whites and it should be...easy...right? ha ha

laura said...

Fascinating, Rhonda!! Thanks for the en"light"enment! (a poor pun).
I can see I need to take more care in taking photos--I doubt I have any photos that would work with notan!

RHCarpenter said...

No pun is a poor pun, Laura :) I don't care how bad they are, I still enjoy them!