Tuesday 21 January 2020

Composition A series of exercises in art structure for the use of students and teachers (1913)

 Arthur Wesley Dow (1857-1922) was a painter, print maker, and teacher. Based on detailed study of the visual arts of the Middle East, Europe, Greece, and Japan, Dow wrote a book on Composition. It begins:

Architecture, Sculpture, Painting, Music and Poetry are the principal fine arts. Of these the first three are called Space arts, and take the various forms of arranging, building, constructing, designing, modelling and picture-painting. In the space arts there are three structural elements with which harmonies may be built up:
1.LINE. The chief element of beauty in architecture, sculpture, metal work, etching, line design and line drawings.
2. NOTAN. The chief element in illustration, charcoal drawing, mezzotint, Oriental ink painting and architectural light and shade.
3. COLOR. The chief element in painting, Japanese prints, textile design, stained glass, embroidery, enamelling and pottery decoration.

The term LINE refers to boundaries of shapes and the interrelations of lines and spaces. Line-beauty means harmony of combined lines or the peculiar quality imparted by special treatment. 

The term NOTAN, a Japanese word meaning “dark, light”, refers to the quantity of light reflected, or the massing of tones of different values. Notan-beauty means the harmony resulting from the combination of dark and light spaces—whether colored or not—whether in buildings, in pictures, or in nature.

The image above is a collection of Notans created by the american artist Stephen Berry  HERE.