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One of the most famous and distinguished painters of the Early California art genre, Impressionist artist Edgar Payne is best known for his plein-air landscapes of the Sierra Nevada mountains, boat and fishing scenes from Italy and France, and coastal seascapes.
Edgar Payne settled in Laguna Beach in 1918, where he established and served as the first President of the Laguna Beach Art Association.
Many of Payne's boat and fishing themed works were painted in France and Italy c.1923 when Payne and his wife, artist Elsie Payne, traveled extensively throughout Europe for several years. This was a prime period in the artist's career, the early 1920's, and his canvases from this era often feature vivid coloration, superb light, and remarkable atmospheric effects.
Payne's iconic Sierra Nevada works often feature deep, rich colors and bold, vigorous brushwork. In his book “Edgar Payne: The Scenic Journey”, Scott Shields, Associate Director and Chief Curator of the Crocker Art Museum describes Payne’s works as “imbued with an internal force and active dynamism achieved through majestic, vital landscape subjects. In each locale, he sought vitality, bigness, nobility, and grandeur, which he turned into unified, carefully calculated compositions with brushwork that seemed to pulsate with life.”
Payne's seascape themed works were often created in “plein-air”, outside, and were painted in the area that he frequently returned to for inspiration, the Laguna coast. His popular seascapes brilliantly capture the power, movement, and vitality of the Southern California coast.
In 1941 Edgar Payne wrote "Composition of Outdoor Painting", a comprehensive book that discussed landscape painting techniques, composition, color, repetition, rhythm, and value. The book has been wildly popular with artists. and the seventh edition printing of the work was completed in 2005.
Edgar Payne’s works can be found in numerous museums and public collections, including the Laguna Art Museum, the National Museum of American Art in Washington D.C., the Oakland Museum, and the Art Institute of Chicago.