On Morris Graves - an archived post of mine:
Google Image pages linked showing selection of their artwork:
Iridescent Light:The Emergence of Northwest Art by Delores Tarzan Ament & Mary Randlett.
For "the Big Four" art was a token of their intellectual journeys - a visual dialogue based on their understanding of the self and its relation to the cosmos. Eastern concepts of consciousness and creation intrigued them (they were all smitten with Zen, Hinduism, or even Baha'i).
As mid 20th century American mystics, the senior members of The Northwest School can be considered a visual arm of the Beat Generation: the Beats introduced Eastern disciplines and sacred texts to American literature, the Northwest artists invented a visual vocabulary to accompany this collective search for meaning in our society. They helped initiate a new and healthier understanding of nature. Morris Graves was as important in introducing the aesthetics of Zen Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta to America as Alan Watts, Gary Snyder, Gerald Heard and Christopher Isherwood.
Ultimately, Tobey and Graves became mannerists, employees of their old ideas. Only Guy Anderson in his later years showed any vitality. He continued to develop his forceful, gestural paintings - big circles and undulating bands of scaled-up brush strokes. Compared to the size of Tobey's small paintings. Anderson's oeuvre is Leviathan.
Finally, there's Ken Callahan. His paintings were Christian Apocalyptic revelations. One will find armies of humans and animals crowded into the tempera. Callahan used a kind of figurative "white writing," too It's like a bottle of White-Out, filled with Existential yearnings.
The key to this technique, one they all shared, involved a dusky background - the grays and browns and greens of the Pacific Northwest. The flora and fauna appear in white atop the darker colors. This iridescence is the exact opposite of Seurat: everything starts with the dark and goes to the light. Also, everything was painted with an economy of means, a technique borrowed from the famous Chinese and Japanese scroll paintings found at the Seattle Art Museum.
Rather than post individually on the other three members I'm going to simply take a look at the four natal charts to discover whether there's any obvious astrological linkage. Charts set for 12 noon, so ascendants remain unknown, as do exact positions of natal Moons.
Mark Tobey: December 11, 1890, Centerville, WI.
Morris Graves: August 28, 1910, Fox Valley, OR.
Kenneth Callahan: October 30, 1905, Spokane, WA.
Guy Anderson: November 20, 1906, Edmonds, WA
The link I'm seeking will most likely be through Neptune. Neptune, in astrology, has mysticism as one of its keywords. Mark Tobey, eldest of this quartet, has linkage to Neptune via his natal Venus (planet of the arts). Venus and a Neptune/Pluto opposition draws Neptune into his artistry, but also interesting is a Yod (Finger of Fate) linking Mercury and Uranus by helpful sextile, with both planets in quincunx aspect (150 degrees) to Neptune/Pluto, forming the Yod with Neptune/Pluto at apex. Astrologers usually see the Yod formation as unhelpful, but I like to interpret it as the apex planet "outlet" being "fed" by the joint sextiled planets - in this case the mental capacity of Mercury in helpful aspect to the futurism of Uranus developing into the mysticism of Neptune (and in Tobey's case with some Pluto intensity included).
The other three artists all had Neptune involved in an oppostion aspect:
Graves - Neptune opposite Uranus
Callahan - Neptune opposite Mars
Anderson - Neptune conjunct Jupiter opposite Uranus. This Jupiter conjunction is interesting in view of that remark in the quote above: "He [Anderson] continued to develop his forceful, gestural paintings - big circles and undulating bands of scaled-up brush strokes. Compared to the size of Tobey's small paintings. Anderson's oeuvre is Leviathan."
Jupiter = excess, largess, big stuff!