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The Importance of having a Prepared Notan Before Starting to Paint.


Hi Guys,

This week I wanted to discuss the importance of preparing a notan sketch as well as a thumbnail tonal sketch. This is a great addition to your creative process and will give you a strong pattern to start your initial blocking in.

I have been busy practising this myself in my own work this week in conjunction with Mary Bentz Gilkerson, an American painter/Educator whose work in both fields I am thoroughly enjoying . I also shared this with my students this week who really rose to the challenge and had some very positive strong outcomes.

Preparing a notan is a simple and effective tool to use providing the artist a clear starting point for starting your painting. If you are working in grey scale then your initial marks will be black as this is the strongest tone,however if you are working in colour a dominant colour from the subject should be selected.

So,in order to create a notan of your chosen subject there are a few things to consider that we have already added previously to our creative process, these being cropping your image to give strong pathway into the horizon and up through the sky and a clear focal point along the lines of the rule of thirds as demonstrated below.These are imperative for a pleasing composition.

Placing your focal point in any of the four positions will give the artist a strong composition.

Practice this in your sketch book gridding out 8 small squares , proceed with creating tonal thumbnail sketches experimenting with changing the emphasis of the structure lines,do these in grey scale first choosing 3/5 values and making 5/7contained shapes, these are some of my thumbnails from this week, you will notice I have created some in pencil,some in marker pen and others in paint.

The notan is made from these thumbnail tonal sketches and turns these 3/5 values into 2 just the black and the white.This means as the artist you need to make a decision to push the grey scale either to the black or the white. Its really interesting to explore your options here. Try to avoid a 50/50 split of black to white as this can be visually dull opt for 60/40 % 70/30% 80/20%

These are some of the notans I produced from my tonal sketches. Its important to remember that the notan was made from the tonal sketch not the photo or direct landscape.

This skill is just as easily transferred into still life or life drawing. My students were exploring this last Monday and worked really hard to achieve it.

This really breaks the creative process down into small easy steps and is a good habit to get in to.I will be posting how I use the notans I have made in the next post tomorrow, happy painting and have a go at adding this to your creative process,until tomorrow...


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