Charles Payzant

Charles Payzant Watercolor, Double-sided: Cowboy on Winter Ranch/ Market Scene

Regular price $3,500.00

Generally acknowledged as one of America’s most gifted watercolorists, Charles Payzant (1898-1980) made his own choice between the two by signing the Cowboy, whose restrained palette of brown and dun give it a special distinction, but we love the Market Scene too, with its almost Dufy-esque pops of color among the flowers and fruit.

Artwork measures 22 x 28 frame, 13 1/2 x 20 art. Framing permits the owner to switch the side being exhibited.

On February 18, 1898 St. George Charles Payzant, was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He lived in Nova Scotia, Canada until World War I, when he served with the 23rd Nova Scotia Highlanders and the Royal Flying Corps before beginning his study of art. His schooling began in Canada at the Victoria School of Art in Halifax and later took him to England. In the 1920s, he moved to Los Angeles where he studied at the Otis Art Institute, and later at the Chouinard Art Institute among peers who would also become influential painters in the Californian Regionalist tradition.

Working in the 1920s, Charles Payzant’s stylistic roots were based in the painterly style of the American Ashcan School of the early twentieth-century. Payzant concentrated on freelance commercial work. Many of his scenes from this time depicted Los Angeles’ urban landscapes. Like many artists emerging in California at this time, Payzant worked outdoors and preferred the watercolor medium for its ability to depict the quality of light characteristic of the region.

In the early 1930s Payzant began exhibiting with the California Watercolor Society. This time ushered in a change in Payzant’s stylistic approach. He moved away from the traditional qualities of his work in the 1920s and toward a more innovative use of space, color and brushstrokes. These would become the characteristics ascribed to the emerging California School. Payzant’s subjects of the time continued to be primarily focused on Los Angeles. He created many street scenes, such as Wilshire Blvd., (1931) which showcased his new influential technique. For this work, Payzant won an award at the Annual Juried Exhibition of Painting and Sculpture at the Los Angeles Museum of History, Science and Art. He also influenced his fellow California watercolorists through his treatment of the space and innovative light quality in this work.

The turbulent economic times of the 1930s and 1940s forced artists around the country to seek alternative employment. Many of the California Regionalists took up work designing for studios in Hollywood as a means of earning their livelihood when their private commissions failed to suffice financially. Charles Payzant began working for Walt Disney Studios in the 1930s doing watercolor backgrounds. He later worked on the artistic programs, specifically background and landscape scenes, for many of the well-known Disney movies of the time such as Fantasia (1940), Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs(1937), Pinocchio (1940), Make Mine Music (1946), Bambi (1942), The Three Caballeros(1944) and Dumbo (1941). Although the economic environment of the Great Depression stifled the art scene in many areas of the United States, the opportunity in California to continue stylistic development through work in Hollywood resulted in the overall progress of the California Watercolor School.

After the War, Payzant returned to freelance work and continued his illustrative work on children’s books written by his wife, Terry Shannon-Payzant. He also served as art director for an educational series called the Dick and Jane series of grade school readers through the MacMillan Publishing Company. During this time, Payzant also wrote multiple articles and short stories published in the Los Angeles Times. Throughout the rest of his life, Payzant continued to paint in the California Regionalist style, completing multiple murals through private commissions. Charles Payzant died in Corona del Mar, California in 1980 at the age of 82.

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