Woodward Payne

Woodward Payne art
art by Woodward Payne

400 Series Watercolor

Woodward Payne art
art by Woodward Payne

400 Series Watercolor Block

About Woodward Payne

photo of Woodward Payne

Woodward Payne was born in Phoenix, Arizona in 1935. He is a painter and photographer by profession. His paintings have been exhibited in galleries and museums throughout the United States, and are included in distinguished private and public collections.

Following completion of undergraduate school at Arizona State University and graduate school at Indiana University he spent four years in Germany, during which period he traveled extensively throughout Europe.  His paintings of this period were primarily landscapes and cityscapes, which were ultimately exhibited in one-man shows in Munich and Berlin.

In 1966, he returned to Arizona where he spent the next fifteen years teaching at Mesa Community College and Arizona State University. His work as an artist began to be influenced and, to a significant degree, shaped by his experiences as an aviator (he learned to fly when he was 13) as well as his love of travel. During the past fifty years he has taken thousands of slides and digital photographs of which many have served as idea sources for his paintings. His subject matter includes aerial landscapes, landscapes, dynamic florals, seascapes and abstracts.

Mr. Payne was highly honored by an award, in April 1986, of First Prize in Smithsonian Institution's  National Air and Space Museum Earth Views  competition in Washington D.C.  The competition was open to artists throughout the United States, and over 2000 paintings were entered.   One of these was selected for the First Prize purchase award, adding Woodward Payne's  aerial painting "Morning Mist" to the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Institution.

Since 1985 the artist has lived, with his wife Beverly, in Northern California. His studio is located in their home on Mt.Tamalpais above Mill Valley, just North of San Francisco.


As my work has developed over the years I find increasingly that I identify with and respond to the sensuality of nature and landscape in all its aspects.

These concerns were first evidenced in my aerial landscape paintings which were a direct result of my lifelong interest in flying and viewing the unique elegance of the earth from above. Although this viewpoint is still of considerable artistic concern my recent efforts have gravitated more towards dealing with natural forms of a smaller scale.  I enjoy working in a variety of media and on varying scales although very large watercolors continue to be my dominant direction.

The abstracts were a natural progression resulting from my quest to deal with formal artistic elements without consciously basing them on tangible imagery. I am equally interested in both approaches to painting and feel neither is more valid than the other.

Interview with the Artist

How did you interpret using the Strathmore Thistle for the pad cover artwork?  Anything else you'd like to share about your piece?
This was the first time I had ever used a thistle as a subject for painting which is surprising since I had photographed them on occasion and visually find them quite compelling.  Although many of my floral paintings are somewhat realistic, I chose in this case to use a slightly more abstract approach wanting to emphasize the inherent  design qualities already evident in the thistle.

How did the Strathmore paper you used for the project affect your drawing (or painting) techniques?
The Strathmore 400 Series watercolor paper was an ideal surface upon which to work in this case.   Over the years I have found that it is ideal for supporting the many techniques I employ in my paintings and holds up particularly well under aggressive approaches to applying paint.

Which artists inspire you?
I have been inspired by  a wide variety of artists because I enjoy pursuing a variety of techniques and "styles" in my own work.  Wayne Thiebaud, Richard Diebenkorn,  John Marin,   Pierre Bonnard and Winslow Homer are among the artists that have influenced me the most.

What advice would you give to beginning artists?
My advice to beginning  artists would be to study with a wide variety of instructors. They all have different ideas and philosophies about art and the greatest exposure you can have to these will definitely benefit you as a developing artist.