Mar 24, 2013


Each year 5/6 student began with a black square, triangle, rectangle or circle. Most of the class chose to cut more abstract rather than representational shapes, and then derived great pleasure from recognising incidental objects within their work. We were limited to using black paper (all the available coloured paper was single-sided), but black and white turned out to be very effective.

This was the first time I'd taught about—much less made—Notans (a Japanese design concept focussing on the relative placement of light and dark within a composition), and both myself and the students enjoyed the process. I hope I can make them with another class soon. I'd seen a number of Notan posts floating around the blogosphere, but the most recent one I recalled and studied up with was by Rina from the K-6 Art blog.

While you're here, have you entered the "Win a Joe Hall and The Treehouse Band CD" competition yet? It's as easy as pie, just recall a favourite childhood memory or pastime here. One week left to enter...


  1. Oh! I love theses so much! This lesson is a keeper! :)

  2. Wow! Black and white, positive and negative space... wonderful abstract pieces of art!

  3. Love this! I think I'll keep this idea in my pocket for June I-don't-know-what-to-do-for-the-end-of-year classes! Good icebreaker project too.

    1. Yep, I find it's always handy to have a few of these type of lessons up my sleeve! Thanks Laurie : )

  4. These are terrific. I did them with my classes today and posted the success on my blog as well. Check them out: Art on my hands

  5. Hi Joe

    Great work!

    I love the idea of starting with a circle. Can you imagine a notan sun?

  6. And thanks for the shout out!



  7. Love these! Thank you. Fits in nicely with a discussion of the Es and Ps of design (shape and contrast).