From office paper to brushes and charcoal
Kenneth Procter, Dean Arts and Sciences at GC, gained regional attention for his powdered charcoal drawing “Flash,” 2010. The piece was on view this year at an exhibition for contemporary Southern art located in Alabama. He is represented by Alan Avery Art Company in Atlanta and shares with The Colonnade his inspirations and his art-making process.
Q: How did you become interested in art?
A: My grandmother was an artist. My dad had a lot of artistic ability as well. It kind of ran in the family.
Q: Where do you get your inspiration?
A: I get it from being out walking. My art is based on landscape, trees and atmospheric effects.
Q: Do you only use powdered charcoal?
A: No, I’m also a painter, but these days I don’t have a lot of time to paint. Drawing is easier to pick up and put down. If I’m painting I can’t make the changes I want while keeping it fresh looking. Drawing is also by choice; it’s my first love. It works out nicely with the time that I have. Powdered charcoal is pretty unusual and also not that common. I don’t know that many people who do what I do exactly.
Q: How does powdered charcoal work?
A: People always wonder about powdered charcoal and how it works. You need a jar of powdered charcoal and various brushes and other tools to put the charcoal on paper. All of the drawings are brushed along the paper like watercolor, but it’s dry, so that means I can change it or erase it and still have it looking fresh. However, you need to be careful because you could bump the drawing and blur it or blow on it, and it will blow away. You definitely can’t whistle while you work. Once you’re done, you brush fixative – a transparent varnish – onto the underside of the paper. This soaks through the paper and varnishes the drawing onto the paper which glues it all together.
Q: What is your process when creating your pieces?
A:I’ll start with ideas, little sketches called thumbnails and work through those. I’ll pick one that has need to be big, some need to be small. Then I go through the making and revising. Sometimes it takes a long time, other times it doesn’t. It’s done when it feels right.
Q: Did you want to be an artist when you were younger or is it something you began to love over time?
A: Really all of that. I thought about it on and off. It wasn’t until my senior year in high school when I seriously thought about it.
Q: What are you hoping to convey with your art?
A: A special world. That world is of my invention because I base my art on my memory and imagination. Mostly the time is twilight and night — the darkening sky transforms the landscape in surprising ways. I try to make worlds that are beautiful and mysterious, maybe even sublime.
Q: Do you have any advice for aspiring artists?
A: As a student, you want to look at three kinds of teachers: your professors, art history and how other artists got their inspiration for their art, and nature because the world around you is something to look at and learn from.
Q: Your piece “Flash” gained regional attention. What inspired you for that piece?
A: That’s one of those mystery pieces. I wanted to get a sense of the wonders and mystery of nature. There’s a quietness there. There’s also a sense that you’re the only one there, so the mystery is there just for you.