On Edgar Alwin Payne

Payne was an American Western landscape painter. He grew up in the Southwest, & left home at the age of 14. He traveled all over the States, painting portraits, signs, murals, & local theatre stage sets, to pay his way. Payne was self-taught after attending (& disliking) only two weeks of the Art Institute of Chicago. He made it to California in 1909 & met commercial artist Elsie Palmer (1884-1971) - they were wed three years later. Their daughter Evelyn was born in 1914. Later, Payne (with his wife & daughter) painted his way through Canada, & then the trio spent two years (1922-1924) touring & painting Europe. He had a studio setup in Paris. Sometimes their trips would be on horseback or hiking through the backcountry, looking for undisturbed places of raw, & rare beauty, to paint, sometimes for weeks. After traveling the world, Payne settled for the wild western parts of America. He spent 4 months painting landscapes of Canyon de Chelly in Arizona. Pretty intense. Payne was a member of 10 art associations. A total of 17 galleries can boast of having his work to display.

Edgar Alwin Payne 1883- 1947 (Paris)
Payne was a man who loved the outdoors, & spent most of his life painting, or thinking about painting, landscapes. His drawings were records of his thoughts, his notes to himself. His paintings reflect an amazing perspective, selection talent, & premeditation.

In 1941 he wrote "Composition of Outdoor Painting" 
-A great book on painting techniques, color, repetition, rhythm, composition, scale & value. (If ya ever see it- buy it!)  I got my copy of the book from Amazon, for about $50. It is worth every penny. 
Here are some of his works— 
Sunset, Canyon De Chelly, 1916

Sentinels of the Coast, Monterey. c.  Oil on Canvas
Eternal Surge, c. 1920 Oil on Canvas
Canyon Mission Viejo, c. 19?? Oil on Canvas
Sardine Boats, c. 1923. Oil on Canvas.  
Sierra Trail, c. 19 Oil on Canvas 
Rendezvous Santa Cruz Island, c. 1915 Oil on Canvas
Canyon de Chelly Oil on board
Shadow Slope Oil on Canvas 36” x 46”
Sierra Divide, 1921. Oil on Canvas
Trees on a California Hillside, c.  Oil on Canvas 
California Mountain, High Sierras
Oil on panel 17"x21

Whenever I go out landscape painting, I try to paint in the style of this quicker work, imaged directly above. Using thick paint, & a large brush…  Really laying each stroke on, & letting it do the work for you. Using the brush to 'draw', & then you can see the reflected light off of each angular stroke. I really like this picture. The mass shapes of the trees. It's so directional. You can really feel the depth & the height of those hills too. 
Payne is one of my favorite artists—  
Examples of compositions, taken from his book.
 (Click & view in new window for larger size.)
No matter what we do, or where we go, isn't it always awesome to look back &  say- I was out there, I was alive, I did that. God made all of us exactly like we are, with talents, & weaknesses. Embrace your gifts, create a memory, do something special. Enjoy life. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a painting is worth a lot more. Generations will reap what we sew; we can pass on a curse or a blessing to those we will never know. (Deut. 11:26-28Let's leave a history that generations to come will be proud of!


  1. Amen! Thank you for those eloquent and inspirational words!

    1. Joan, thank you so much for reading (and taking the time to comment!) Means a lot! :)

    2. Painting is a wonderful skill to develope. Thanks for the Payne list of compositions. It is good to design with a structure in mind, and this complete list will be good to refer to. I love the way he has captured the light in his paintings. Thank you for sharing.