Edgar Payne was a native of America, born in Barry County on 1st March 1883. His early childhood was quite an adventure as he enjoyed traveling a lot. He lived with his family in Prairie Grove, Washington County. His father was a carpenter and Edgar worked as an apprentice for some time. In his many escapades, he would paint houses, murals, portraits and many other kinds of stuff. He traveled a lot before he got enrolled at the Art Institute of Chicago but only stayed there for two weeks seeing that is was so structured. He resorted to learning portrait on his own to suit his own taste. He had his first pieces being exhibited at the Chinese and Palette club. The knowledge he was obtained was not enough so he decided to move to California to expand his horizon. He took much of his time at the Laguna Beach and later went to San Francisco where he was able to interact with other artists such as Elsie Palmer. He had a growing interest towards Elsie and the duo decided to get married. In the morning of their wedding, in 1912, Edgar postponed the time for their marriage to a later time in the afternoon claiming that the morning light was “perfect”. As a couple, Elsie helped Edgar a lot in his career especially in mural work that he had his first exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago, that was before the arrival of the couple’s first child, Evelyn in 1914.
After 1917, he was asked to paint the South West in order to make it more appealing and thus a tourist attraction. He did a tremendously marvelous job which has earned him a great reputation in Western America. He spent four more months in the South West with Elsie, painting and exploring its landscape. It became the place of his inspiration for decades.
The couple spent their lives at the Laguna Beach where they made their home in 1918. He made a studio there and organized the Laguna Beach Art Association and soon became its president. They later traveled to different places in Alberta, Canada, and British Columbia painting, hiking and exploring the interesting landscape.
He had quite a successful life having several galleries and Museums having his work. Utah Museum of fine art, Chicago Art Museum, National Collection Fine Art, National Collection of Fine Art and Edgar Payne Gallery in California were just some of the galleries and collections where you can find Payne’s work. Also, California State Fair, Channel and Chaffin galleries, California Art Club and the Stendhal galleries are some of the places where he exhibited his works during his life.
The Payne’s couple returned to California after a financial crisis in 1929, during the era of the great depression. In 1932, Evelyn, the only child of the couple got married and in the very same year, Elsie and Edgar separated. From then on he spent much of his time in Sierra Nevada Mountains. His love for Sierra grew that he produced a film about the same, he also wrote a book about landscape painting techniques. Fourteen years later Elsie moved to help Edgar who was sick cancer, she lived with him until he died on 8 April 1947. After his death, Elsie continued to do his work and made a sculptor of Edgar found at the Laguna Beach Art Museum.
Some of his art work was as follows; “Italian Fishing Boats” a piece with sailing boats a characteristic he got at the Italian coasts during his escapades. The “Big Pine Lake”, was done in the Sierra Nevada, one of the most favorite places for Edgar, he did several other pieces, over 200 in his life time.
View our Edgar Payne Gallery.