It's Day 5 of our Winter Quilts series! We're here to talk about the concept of dark/light harmony ("Notan") in art and quilting. Notan refers to a well organized arrangement of dark and light shapes which creates an impression of beauty, regardless of either the colors used or of the subject matter (see this article). In addition to experiments with negative space, Notan can be the starting point for quilt blocks, embroideries, or images to be printed. This lovely snowflake was created by fiber artist Nancy Schlegel as part of a 2011 Notan Challenge.
Notan Snowflake, 15 x 15", by Nancy Schlegel, NRS Quilter as seen at the Fast Friday Fabric Challenge
To create the snowflake, Nancy Schlegel started with a circle and cut out a design from the inside of the circle to look like a 6-pointed snowflake. The white cut-outs were then flipped to the outside; this concept is known as The Expansion of the Square (or circle, as in this case). We also admire this asymmetric Notan Leaf which was created by Veronica Von Zwehl at Fast Friday Quilts:
The 2011 Notan quilt challenge actually began with Cathy Miller, aka The Singing Quilter. Here is a Cathy Miller design (below). The block was placed on point as described at this post. You can see a whole gallery of Notan challenge blocks at The Singing Quilter's Facebook page.
Jean Cheszek has a great description and examples of Notan at Color On Cloth. And if you want to try your own Notan design, check out the step-by-step directions by Cynthia Ann Morgan at Fast Friday Quilts, the Expanded Square Tutorial by Jane Dunnewold, and/or this book about Notan - The Dark-Light Principle of Design: