About the Artist
Born in Brenham, Texas and raised in Navasota, Texas, J. Payne Lara showed an early interest in drawing, with an exceptional talent at molding and shaping clay figures at a very young age. Living on a ranch and growing up in a family of cowboys, he had his Western heritage instilled in his heart, and it has certainly played an important role in inspiring his art. A contestant in rodeos across the country, he has competed in bullriding and calf roping, and continues to compete in the team roping event.
The seriousness of his artistic talent became clear in high school, when he won many area and regional art awards, including a “Best of Show” award at the 1990 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. That honor earned him a scholarship to study at the Cowboy Artists of America Museum in Kerrville, Texas. He studied intensely in two media: oil painting and sculpture, and solidified his determination to become a fine Western artist.
After high school, Payne went on to further his education by attending Sam Houston State University, but found “academic art” a slow, unchallenging and frustrating process. Packing his pick-up truck with his belongings and his sculpting supplies, he left the university in his first year and set out to become a full-time professional artist. Determined to learn the trade first-hand, Payne visited and studied with various well-known professional artists who generously shared their expertise.
His subjects vary from cowboy life to wildlife, but the true passion of his art is the Native American Plains Indian. He spends much of his time learning about the traditional customs and culture of the Sioux. Through his art, Payne hopes to portray the proud people who once lived in total harmony with the earth. Payne’s art continues to earn him awards and recognition, and he’s been featured in a variety of publications and television programs. His honesty and artistry are evident in works and he is dedicated to fulfilling his goal of becoming a fine Western artist.