Edgar Payne Biography

Primarily a self-taught artist, Edgar Alwin Payne (1883-1947) would eventually become so proficient at his craft that he would author a book titled Composition of Outdoor Painting, that is still used today by collectors, artists and teachers around the world. Edgar Payne was born to a Missouri farming family in 1883. Hard work on the farm made Edgar Payne decide to leave at the age of fourteen to seek employment less physically demanding. He took jobs painting stage sets, signs and even houses as he made his way through the Ozarks and into Mexico. Payne also found work painting murals in some public buildings and theaters during this time as well.

At some point in his travels Edgar Payne did receive training at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Payne-Morris Studio in Dallas, Texas. When the artist married another painter in 1912 (Elsie Payne) the pair decided to head to the warm climate of California. By 1915 they had settled in Santa Barbara, and Edgar Payne began to spend more and more time at his easel. By 1918 Edgar & Elsie Payne had settled permanently in Laguna Beach, California (Edgar & Elsie Payne pictured above).

To earn a living Edgar Payne would accept large mural commissions throughout the country, and the couple would travel frequently. He would also spend time on painting excursions to the Sierra Nevadas, the desert southwest and along the west coast. It is such scenery that first drew attention to Edgar Alwin Payne's paintings.

Once Edgar Payne settled in Laguna Beach, he would become a founder and first President of the Laguna Beach Artists Association. He continued painting professionally throughout this time, and by 1922 he and Elsie Payne were able to take a painting tour of Europe. They would not return to the United States for nearly two years, and once they did they spent their time between New York and California.

Edgar Payne was an Impressionist painter and loved the High Sierra scenery that provided him with some of his most famous settings. He is also known for his landscapes containing the Native Indians of the region. Edgar Payne became so well known for his work that Payne Lake in the High Sierra was named for the artist.

While many of Edgar Alwin Payne's paintings were left undated, art historians are able to distinguish the major periods through changes in his palette and brush work. Later in his career his colors lightened and his brush strokes became significantly bolder and looser. Edgar Payne art is housed in many private and public collections and many of his commissioned murals remain intact in theaters and public buildings around the country.

In 1946, Edgar Payne was diagnosed with cancer. He passed away on April 8, 1947.

Edgar Alwin Payne Awards

1917 Medal, California State Fairs
1918 Medal, California State Fair
1918 Gold Medal, Sacramento State Fair
1919 Medal, Sacramento State Fair
1919 Award, Los Angeles County Museum of Art
1920 Award, Art Institute of Chicago
1921 Award, Southwest Museum of Art
1921 Award, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art
1922 Award, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts
1923 Award, Paris Salon
1925 Award, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts
1926 Gold Medal, Los Angeles County Museum of Art
1929 Award, National Academy of Design
1939 Award, Golden Gate International Exposition
1947 Award, California Art Club

Edgar Alwin Payne Memberships

Allied Art Association
American Artists Professional League
California Art Club (President, 1926)
Carmel Art Association
Chicago Society of Artists
International Society Art League
Laguna Beach Art Association (President, 1920)
Palette and Chisel Club
Salmagundi Club (NYC)
Ten Painters of Los Angeles

Edgar Payne biography portrait photo.