light/dark balance

Expanding the square: stencil design warm-up

I'm beginning new stencil designs this week. To loosen up, I'm playing with paper, scissors and a glue stick, following some intriguing exercises in the book Notan: The Dark-Light principle of design.  This goal of the exercise below is to create symmetrical and asymmetrical balance by cutting shapes out of a basic 6x6" black square and expanding them outside the boundary of the square (with some guidelines).  These exercises help develop what the authors call the "dichotomy of attention" to positive and negative space that is necessary to create Notan (think right-brain).


Not surprisingly, creating asymmetrical balance is more challenging. Here is one of several iterations I tried combining a rabbit form with a kale/leaf-like form (remembering the rabbits that frequented my garden this winter). It's easier to start with abstract rather than representational forms and see what emerges.

expanding the square asymmetrically

expanding the square asymmetrically