Tobey was an American painter whose work is characterized by his densely structures compositions, inspired by Asian calligraphy. While loosely resembling the work of Abstract Expressionism, the motives for his compositions differed philosophically. Widely recognized throughout the United States and Europe, Tobey was one of the founders of the Northwest School. Being more senior in age and experience, he had a strong influence on the other members and shared in their interest in philosophy and Eastern religions. Tobey was mostly self-taught after early studies at the Art Institute of Chicago and in 1921, he founded the art department at the Cornish School in Seattle. Throughout his career, Tobey traveled all over the world including Mexico, Europe, Palestine, Turkey, China and Japan and this influence can be seen all over his paintings through his oriental brushwork and calligraphic strokes.