The movement's early participants, and its defining artists, were the "big four": Guy Anderson, Kenneth Callahan, Morris Graves and Mark Tobey. They combined the natural elements of the Puget Sound area with traditional Asian aesthetics to create a novel and distinct regional style, particularly in painting and sculpture with some drawing, printmaking and photography. All of these artists were from a similar age group, and all were greatly influenced by the Pacific Northwest environment. The influence of the natural setting of Western Washington, especially the Skagit Valley, was the unifying aspect of their art.
The media most commonly used by the painters in this main group of artists were tempera, oil and gouache on canvas. The sculptors among this group mainly used natural stone and ceramic. The use of these media for their sculpture helped them express the feeling of the Northwest through their art.
The style of the Northwest School is characterized by the use of symbols of the nature of Western Washington, as well as the diffuse lighting characteristic of the Skagit Valley area. The lighting and choice of tonal ranges in the color is one of the most important aspects of Northwest art. Even Tobey, whose artwork did not include as much natural Northwest subject matter, is easily identified as Northwest style because of the soft pastel-like colors that he used, and the dark mist-like chroma of the lighting with a lack of stark shadows. The Northwest artists have been labeled as mystics, although most denied this forcefully and none of them were in any actual group that worked together. They actually denied being a "school" of art, but they have been grouped this way because all of their styles were influenced by similar things and therefore their artwork has major unifying themes.
In addition to the local natural setting and the Asian influence, the Northwest School also shows some influence from surrealism, cubism and abstract expressionism. The cubist influence is shown to some extent in Kenneth Callahan’s Prism and the Dark Globe (1946) and Tobey’s Western Town (1944).
The style of the original group of artists that made up the Northwest School has continued on today. Artists like Tony Angell are current members of the Northwest School. Their work is very similar to the original northwest artists in overall style of their work. Tony Angell’s sculpture often incorporates birds, much like Washington’s, Gilkey’s and McCracken’s work. The flowing and silhouette style of Angell’s work also very closely ties to McCracken’s sculpture.
Leadership as more of an art than a science.(The Bookshelf)(The Dance of Leadership: The Art of Leading Business, Government, and Society)(Book review)
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