The Pacific North West region of the United States is known for its natural beauty, with lush forests, rugged coastline, and towering mountain ranges. This unique landscape inspired great artists with some of the most significant painters capturing its essence through their work.
Emily Carr: seeing the Pacific North West through a complex lens.
Emily Carr, born in Victoria, British Columbia, spent much of her life in the Pacific North West. She is considered one of the most important painters of the region, known for her bold and vibrant depictions of the forest and coastal landscapes of western Canada. Her work reflects her deep connection to the land and her commitment to preserving the natural beauty of the Pacific North West.
Emily Carr’s work is vibrant with a modernist style developed in the studios of London and Paris. She earned renown for her early depictions of Indigenous cultures, work that would later be criticized as appropriative.
Mark Tobey: Portraying the spirit of man
“To me an artist is one who….portrays the spirit of man in whatever condition that spirit may be. He can’t expect too much of him when the rest is negligent of spiritual values such as today….The development of my work has been I feel more subconscious than conscious. I do not work by intellectual deductions. My work is a kind of self-contained contemplation.”– Mark Tobey
Mark Tobey was an American painter who was born in Centerville, Wisconsin, and spent much of his life in the Pacific North West. He is best known for his abstract style, which was influenced by his interest in Asian culture and spirituality. Tobey’s work is characterized by a sense of spiritual mystery and a unique use of white space, which creates a sense of calm and tranquility.
Mark Tobey’s artistic interests were spiritual as well as formal. Inspired by the Bahai faith and Zen Buddhism, he created a unique visual vocabulary for expressing his conceptual framework. From his travels in Asia and the Middle East, Tobey became fascinated with calligraphy and Arabic script and created a style of painting he called “white writing”. These paintings, which included elements from the real world, are densely packed compositions in which details, rendered in white, swirl in and through ambiguous spaces.
Morris Graves: capturing the spirit of PNW through spiritual tenderness.
Morris Graves was an American painter who was born in Fox Valley, Oregon, and spent much of his life in the Pacific North West. He is considered one of the leading figures of the Northwest School, a group of artists who sought to capture the spirit of the Pacific North West in their work. Graves’ paintings are known for their spiritual depth and their use of delicate and detailed brushwork, which gives his landscapes a sense of mystery and reverence.
He created coded, colorful paintings exploring the spiritual bond he shared with the land and culture of the Pacific Northwest, his birthplace and home. Lauded by critics as a type of modern-day mysticism or “visionary art,” Graves’ canvases and works on paper often featured bold depictions of local flora and fauna, contrasted by natural, recognizable forms inspired by the artist’s personal relationship to spirituality.
Guy Anderson: Intuitive visions of the natural world.
Guy Anderson was a central figure in the Northwest School, a loosely defined modernist movement of painting inspired by nature, executed in a muted palette, and conveying personal, intuitive visions.
Born in Seattle, Washington, he spent much of his life in the Pacific North West. He became close friends with Morris Graves and Mark Tobey, whose interest in Eastern cultures and philosophies influenced Anderson.
His work reflects his deep connection to the land and his commitment to preserving the natural beauty of the Pacific North West. Anderson’s paintings are known for their bold and vibrant use of color, which captures the energy and power of the region’s landscape.
These four artists are just a few of the many great painters who have captured the beauty and spirit of the Pacific North West in their work. Their paintings are a testament to the region’s unique beauty and a reminder of the importance of preserving its natural wonders for generations to come.