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Members, Art Appraisal Evening 12 March 2024

Appraisals carried out by Amanda Jackson


When talking about paintings we can consider the following:








Amanda’s main theme was the concept of Notan: in Japanese ‘dark light’ and how this relates to the work. Amanda considers how each painting handles this and the balance created. Pencil drawings are all about notan, the light and the shade. 


Pattern notan was illustrated by tree branches against a bright sky. 


An abstract piece served to demonstrate a warm/cool colour notan. 


Amanda advised us to think about balance of notan in a portrait, clothing for example, balancing hair or facial shadows. 


Looking at a landscape, Amanda mentioned the importance of a focal point, a way of leading your eyes into something important. In notan it is the area where there is the most contrast. 


We should look to increase contrast in the focal point of a picture. This might involve knocking back the less important features.


Putting darkness next to light, for example a sunset, helps it work better as a focal point. 


Considering a landscape as a vertical image helps you to feel in amongst it. In a lighter picture, darker areas: shadows can be introduced in a way that helps to lead the viewer through the picture. 


We were told to consider putting a living thing in a landscape to add dynamism. 


Some artists do a sketch in plein air and then use that as inspiration for a studio piece, rather than the place itself. 


Colour harmony, using a reduced colour palette - try to use the same blues throughout the picture for example. 

Complimentary colours can work well together. 


Amanda also spoke a lot about lock and flow - how shapes overlap and create harmony. Where shapes are repeated it also works well. 


Several times Amanda mentioned ‘rules’ and how they can be broken but done well and the reason why it can work. For example, she warned us to avoid ‘kissing’ in a figure touching a horizon line or a foot ending a the edge of the page or mount, but in a particular life drawing a foot placed right at the bottom added to the fidgety nature of the sitter giving the effect that they were stamping their foot. 


Collage has its own dynamism - it’s hard to imagine at the beginning what it will be like at the end. 


Amanda used torn paper against a work in progress to assess its effect. 


Amanda concluded by saying how wonderful it was to see so much variety in the work presented. Those present also got a lot out of the evening and many commented on how well it worked having a theme. 


Meg Grant

To view some of the wonderful selection of pictures that were reviewed Click Here

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