Every composition is fundamentally an arrangement of abstract shapes. To truly “compose” we need to be able to access those shapes. “Notan” is a Japanese word that means “light-dark harmony. ” It is a type of study that gets at the foundational shapes of a composition through the arrangement of dark and light patterns. It uses an extremely limited set of tones — in its most strict form, black and white; and in its more liberal form, black white, and gray. This flat and abstract design notation allows us to explore our composition in its irreducible shape terms. Working first from masterworks, then photographs, in both painting, drawing, collage, and abstract exercises, you’ll learn to “think in notan” — to see the underlying structure of your compositions. You’ll learn to make better choices in the formative stages of your work and bring greater order and power to your compositions.