Janice C. Proctor, longtime art teacher, dies

Janice C. Proctor was an artist who taught art in Baltimore for more than seven decades.

Janice C. Proctor, an artist who taught in Baltimore for more than seven decades, died of Alzheimer's disease Tuesday at Roland Park Place.

The former St. Georges Road resident was 101.


Born in Baltimore and raised in Stoneleigh, she was the daughter of Thomas Edward Carson, an executive director of the Maryland Oil Heat Association, and Evelyn Neely.

She attended Lida Lee Tall School at what is now Towson University and earned a degree at the Maryland Institute College of Art in 1932.


In 1937, she married Dr. Donald F. Proctor, a Johns Hopkins University professor of anesthesiology, otolaryngology and environmental health sciences.

In 1939, Baltimore Sun art critic A. D. Emmart wrote about her works then on display at the Baltimore Museum of Art and compared her style to the French painter Raoul Dufy. He said her paintings "Spring at Last" and "Timonium Race Track" "have the quality of clever illustration with a confident, charming lightness of treatment to match their spirit."

As a young MICA graduate, Mrs. Proctor taught art to young members of the Sisters of Mercy at the Mount Saint Agnes College in Mount Washington. She later joined the faculty of the old Maryland College for Women in Lutherville.

She also taught art to children at the Baltimore Museum of Art from 1942 to 1953, where she worked with artist Belle Boas, whom she often quoted: "If you have an imagination, nothing else matters."

"Her being was 100 percent creativity," said her daughter, Nan Knighton Breglio of New York City. "Many of her students came from conservative families whose paintings would have been hunting shots of mallard ducks. My mother opened their worlds and their imaginations."

Mrs. Proctor exhibited her works widely. In 1947, she exhibited paintings at the Fifth Regiment Armory for a charity event to raise funds for a hospital wing in Saint-Lo, France, in memory of Maryland's members of the 29th Division. Her paintings appeared alongside of the works of artists Aaron Sopher, Florence Austrian and Edward Rosenfeld.

Mrs. Proctor became head of the Bryn Mawr School's art department and served on its faculty from 1953 to 1977.

"While at Bryn Mawr, she arranged the exchanging of exhibits with other private schools," said her daughter. "She added an extensive collection of art books to the library and initiated art as a credit course."


She then taught adults in Goucher College's continuing education department and joined the Renaissance Institute at what is now Notre Dame of Maryland University. Her daughter said she taught collage, acrylic painting, and black-and-white composition.

In 1983, a Sun reporter visited her home in North Roland Park and wrote: "Janet Proctor likes color and she likes it strong. As an artist, she knows how to control the bold hues so they don't get out of hand."

After residing on St. Georges Road, Mrs. Proctor moved to the Roland Park Place retirement community.

"Although my mother had macular degeneration and was legally blind, she began teaching art courses there at the age of 90 and continued for years," her daughter said.

Mrs. Proctor urged her students to produce original and imaginative work. "A typical assignment was for the older students to create paintings based on Amy Lowell's poem 'Patterns,'" her daughter said.

Mrs. Proctor displayed her works in seven exhibits at the Baltimore Museum of Art. She also showed her paintings at the old Morris A. Mechanic Theatre, the C. Grimaldis Gallery on Charles Street and at the 16 East Hamilton Street Club, where she was a member.


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"Her paintings were in the American primitive style with a great deal of whimsy and an enormous amount of color," said her daughter. "Part of their charm was my mother's childlike innocence."

She said her mother was influenced by children's books, such as L. Frank Baum's "Oz" series and the works of Robert Louis Stevenson.

"Those books and their spirit were embedded in her soul," her daughter said.

In her many years of teaching, Mrs. Proctor asked parents if she could keep pieces of their children's art. In the 1980s, she staged an exhibition of those works at the Baltimore City Hall Gallery.

A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. Saturday at Roland Park Place, 830 W. 40th St., where she also organized art shows.

In addition to her daughter, survivors include a son, Douglas Proctor of Baltimore; three granddaughters; and two great-grandchildren. Her husband of 69 years died in 2006.