Theme/Style – California Scene, figurative art, landscapes
Media – Oils, watercolors, sculpture
Artistic Focus – A painter of people and community, Elsie Palmer Payne employed her keen observational skills to bring to life the people and places she visited, creating works that captured “the character and ambiance of the people.” Whether painting in downtown Los Angeles, the Southwestern United States, the Sierras, or abroad, Payne’s canvases were “adept at capturing local color through the precise rendition of costume and specialty goods that each region is noted for.” Her paintings were praised for their “great sense of solidity… the overall effect is that of richly decorative line…”
Career Highlights –
- Early in her career, Payne worked most often in watercolor and gouache.
- She also created small-scale sculptures in clay or plasticene, choosing these quicker and easier-to-stop-and-start media in order to tend to her husband Edgar’s career as a painter, as well as caring for their daughter and the family household.
- The couple separated in 1932 and Payne began focusing her efforts on oils, and mounted exhibitions outside of the Laguna Beach art community.
- She also opened an art school in Beverly Hills, and expanded her subject matter to include Southwestern Indians, flowers, and people, painted in both genre and portrait formats.
- Her later work, which included such American Scene compositions as Bus Stop, Thrifty Drug Store, A Colored Gentleman, The Picnic, and Los Angeles Harbor, presented their subjects with an honesty that reminded many of Ashcan artists’ treatment of their subjects.