Kenneth Potter, A.W.S. Born: Bakersfield, CA; Studied: San Francisco Academy of Art, Academie Frochot (Paris), Istituto Statale d’Arte (Florence); Member: Society of Western Artists; American Watercolor Society. Ken Potter is a third generation Californian. He grew up in Northern California during the depression and began drawing regularly at an early age. While living in Sacramento, he received art instruction through a W.P.A. sponsored program. As a teenager, he visited the 1939 World’s Fair art exhibit in San Francisco where he viewed works by many of the world’s greatest artists. He was particularly excited about modern works, especially the French modernists. (1926 – 2011)
When America entered World War II, Potter was well prepared. He had been in an Explorer Sea Scout program as a youth and in the R.O.T.C. as a teenager. As a United States Marine, he moved right into a position providing security for admirals and chiefs of staff. He later saw action as a combat machine gunner. He manned 20 and 40 mm anti-aircraft weapons on battleships engaged in daily combat off the coast of Japan. He spent his free moments sketching portraits of his fellow shipmates; marines and sailors. Many of these sketches were sent home to their loved ones.
After the war, he visited New York and Chicago before returning to San Francisco. Upon his return, he studied art on the G.I. Bill with Carl Beetz, Hamilton Wolf and Richard Stevens. Both Wolf and Stevens taught geometric abstractionist ideas in art. In addition, his interest in the watercolor medium was heightened after attending presentations by Millard Sheets and Dong Kingman.
Potter was painting expert watercolors by this time but felt he wanted additional instruction. He traveled to France and Italy and studied painting with famed Cubist Jean Metzinger. He attended less formal classes with Fernand Leger and Albert Gleizes. In Italy, he received instruction in fresco painting and printmaking.