Sailing Notan Style — And the Evolution of a Design

Spoonflower’s weekly design contest theme is “Sailing” and I immediately knew I wanted to use the Notan design I wrote about in this post.

That design used 4 different sail boat-inspired patterns (on the left below), combined Nolan-style into the 16 blocks on the right.

And here it is as a repeat:


The Spoonflower contest called for a limited palette using only these colors (plus white).  I played around with the colors and generated a lot of different options.  I show a number of them below.

Here’s the first one I came up with.  Each different sail design was done in a combination of white and one of the colors.


Here’s a similar one, but alternating the colored and white squares so there weren’t large white blocks in the design.


This one uses only white sails, and the different color backgrounds repeat on a diagonal.


Here the background squares alternate between the light and dark blues.


Here’s another version, still in blues and white.


A darker version of the blues and white.


Here’s another version using all the colors, but with no white squares.  It keeps the Notan style, and I like the movement it creates, with the illusion of overlapping circles and figure-8 patterns.


The movement is more apparent in this version with more repeating units.


Next I tried the same color arrangement, but using only one of the sail designs.  I thought this might emphasize the circular movement.  Here’s the block.


And here’s the repeat.  I like the illusion of circles within the pattern.


And one last change — here I put the block into a mirror image arrangement.


Here it is in repeat.  Lots of circles, and it reminds me of a traditional quilt pattern.  This is the one I used for the contest entry.


You can see all the contest designs here.


If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable.
–Lucius Annaeus Seneca

To reach a port, we must sail – sail, not tie at anchor – sail, not drift.
Franklin D. Roosevelt