Born in Gloucester, Massachusetts, Burt Procter became a painter of western landscape and 'cowboys and Indians", often riding horses. Much of his painting was done in his leisure time from his early career as mining engineer and later as a commercial illustrator. Of his early talent, it was said he painted horses before he could walk, and he became a skillful rider.
Procter grew up as the son of a newspaper reporter. In 1908, at age seven, he moved with his family to Oak Park, Illinois. He took art classes at the Chicago Art Institute and later at the Chouinard and Otis Art Institutes in Los Angeles.
At age 17, he first went West, going to the Little Big Horn Basin in Wyoming and then to Stanford University to study mining engineering, a career that took him in the 1920s to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon as a federal employee.
During that time, he lived in Pasadena, working as a commercial artist, and in the late 1920s, went to New York City where he held the job of Art Director with the advertising firm of Lord, Thomas & Logan. He came to admire the work of distinguished illustrators Harvey Dunn and Pruett Carter, with whom he studied at night.
Unsure about the direction of his art career, he returned to Los Angeles and worked as a mining engineer but torn between that occupation and his love of painting, enrolled at the Chouinard and Otis Art Institutes. Shortly after he committed to being a full-time painter.
Trying to find his own style, he literally became a hermit and worked in isolation in his studio for five years. He strove for a sense of design, simplicity, and proportion, and feeling secure in his methods, established a studio at Corona del Mar. Ultimately, he and his wife and daughter settled in Araby near Palm Springs.
His subjects range from marine to desert landscapes and include his early experiences in Grand Canyon and Navajo country as well as in New Mexico and California. He also painted scenes from his travels to Asia and South America. In 1973, the First Annual National Academy of Western Art exhibition included one of his paintings.
Edan Hughes, Artists in California, 1786-1940
Peggy and Harold Samuels, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Artists of the American West
Born in Gloucester, MA on June 24, 1901, Burt Procter was infatuated with the Wild West, and began drawing horses, cowboys and Indians as a small child. His family moved to Oak Park, IL in 1908 and he began his art studies at the Art Institute of Chicago.
At age 17 he went west to the Little Big Horn basin in Wyoming. He studied mining engineering at Stanford University and then worked for the Federal Government at the Grand Canyon. After his move to Pasadena in 1920, he worked as a commercial artist and further studied at Chouinard and Otis Art Institutes under Chamberlin and Lawrence Murphy.
He studied art with Harvey Dunn and Pruett Carter after moving to New York in the late 1920s. Procter was an art director there for an advertising agency for five years. In the 1930s he worked as a mining engineer throughout the West while in his leisure painting desert and western scenes.
In 1938 Procter married and settled in southern California. Summers were spent in Corona del Mar and winters in Palm Springs until his death on July 2, 1980.
Palm Springs Art Association; Laguna Beach Art Association
Pasadena Society of Artists, 1937; Nicholson Gallery (LA), 1937; Pasadena Arts & Crafts, 1941; Bernay Gallery (LA), 1941, 1945; Tuesday Afternoon Club (Glendale), 1942; Stevor Gallery (Pasadena), 1947; Glendale Public Library, 1948; South Laguna Gallery, 1948; Allied AA (Palm Springs), 1949; Studio Gallery (Corona del Mar), 1949; White's Art Store (Montrose), 1950; Festival of Arts (Laguna Beach), 1951-61; Nat'l Academy of Western Art, 1973; Southwest Museum (LA), 1974 (solo).
Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
Interview with the artist or his/her family; Southern California Artists
(Nancy Moure); Artists of the American West
(Samuels); Who's Who in American Art
1976; Los Angeles Times, 7-3-1980 (obituary).Nearly 20,000 biographies can be found in Artists in California 1786-1940 by Edan Hughes and is available for sale ($150). For a full book description and order information please click here