James Proctor was born in Philadelphia in 1919. An important early Modernist, Mr. Proctor worked almost exclusively in progressive, broad stroked, spontaneous figurative and landscape watercolor. A precocious youth, he was tutored by the artist, Martha Berry. Mr. Proctor continued his studies for six years at the Yale School of Fine Art, the Art Students League of New York, and the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles. While at the Art Student’s League, Mr. Proctor studied under Reginald Marsh, who became a lifelong friend and whose artwork he collected.
From 1942 to 1945 Proctor served in the U.S. Army in the Pacific where he worked as a draftsman and designer while continuing to paint watercolors of landscapes and figurative subjects in Guam and Hawaii.
After the war, in 1946 and 1947, Mr. Proctor traveled to Switzerland where he studied psychoanalysis at the Carl Jung Institute. During this period, Mr. Proctor began to record many of his dreams in watercolor. These autobiographical symbolic works took on a Modernist style that was to influence his later work in watercolor.
Leaving Switzerland, Mr. Proctor established his studio in Berkeley, California where he painted figures and landscape in a spontaneous Modernist style. In the 1950s, 1960s while continuing to maintain his studio in Berkeley, California, Mr. Proctor traveled and painted throughout Europe and Asia. In later years, Mr. Proctor retired to his studio home in Carmel, California.