An exceptional sculptor of animals, Phimister Proctor was born in Ontario. He spent his childhood travelling around the United States with his family until the age of eleven, when they established a home in Denver, Colorado, then on the western boundary of settled American territory. Proctor developed a love of nature, a taste for hunting, and a passion for sketching wildlife: “I found I could get an action picture by closing my eyes, opening them for a split second, and then shutting them again. I practised this exercise until I arrived at the point where I could retain the picture long enough to do a rough sketch. It was in this manner that I made the sketches for my panthers.”
Trained at the National Academy of Design in New York, Proctor studied drawing and anatomy at the city’s Art Students League before further honing his artistic skills at the Académie Julian in Paris, where he learned the techniques of sculpture.