Edgar Alwin Payne was born in Washburn, Missouri on March 1, 1882. Since the age of 14 his goal was to become a painter, he began his career by designing and painting scenery for the stage, and murals for homes and theaters. Primarily a self taught artist, he did though study briefly at the Art Institute in Chicago. Edgar Payne married his wife Elsie Palmer in Chicago in 1912.
Recognized as one of California's leading landscape artists, Payne earned the respect of his peers and art critics for his Impressionistic landscapes painted in the plein-air style. Possessing a reverence for nature, he especially loved the mountains. Frequently he took pack horses in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range to the upper lakes to sketch and paint, there he glorified the areas majestic peaks and cobalt blue lakes. Payne Lake was named in his memory.
Drawn to Europe, Payne trekked to and painted the elevated heights of the Swiss Alps, the colorful fishing boats of Concarneau Harbor and Brittany, France and the picturesque sailing vessels of Chioggia, Venice, Italy. He spent time capturing on canvas Arizona's Canyon De Chelly and Navajo horsemen traversing the region's arid tablelands. He painted California coastal landscapes from the crashing waves of Laguna Beach to the windblown cypress trees of Monterey.
In 1941 Edgar Payne authored the book, "The Composition of Outdoor Painting". In his book he was quoted as saying about the process of painting, "A painter needs to study, meditate and experiment and practice interminably in order to produce a painting that would have nobility in its concept, variety, rhythm, repetition, unity, balance and harmony in its composition" -- all qualities found in Edgar Payne's works.
Edgar Payne won numerous awards, and he exhibited and sold his paintings successfully throughout his career. His works can be found in important private collections and in museums such as the Laguna Art Museum (Laguna Beach, California), the Chicago Art Museum, Southwest Museum of Los Angeles and the National Academy of Design Collection. Living in Laguna Beach, California, he was involved in the formation of the Laguna Beach Art Association and became its first president in 1920. He died in Hollywood, California on April 8, 1947.