Born in Missouri in 1883, Payne left home at age 14 and found work painting houses, stage sets and signs. Except for a brief period at the Art Institute of Chicago, he remained a self-taught artist. His first visit to California in 1909 was spent painting in Laguna before traveling to San Francisco where he met and married Elsie Palmer in 1912. In 1918, Payne established a studio-home in Laguna where he became the 1st president of the Laguna Beach Art Association and the 9th president of the California Art Club (1926). After extensive travel through Europe, he and Elsie established residency in New York before returning to Hollywood in 1932. A year later they separated. When Edgar developed cancer, Elsie returned to nurture him until his death a year later in Hollywood. Possessing a reverence for nature, Payne frequently he took pack horses in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range to the upper lakes. His paintings glorified the area’s majestic peaks and cobalt blue lakes. Payne Lake was named in his memory.