Constance Payne’s exquisite oil paintings and pastels are conceptualized and crafted in the tradition of 19th century Animaliers. From the onset of the support systems for her paintings and drawings to the completed work, Constance’s lifelong study and studio practices pay homage to the working methods of the most famous 19th century animal portrait painter, Rosa Bonheur, as well as the French Academy Atelier system.  She spent years researching the exact pigments and mediums in Rosa Bonheur’s work in order to carry on the 19th century aesthetic that the expression of art evolves from the most exacting visual portrayal of the subject, rather than from the self expression of the artist.

During her academic studies, which culminated in a Master of Fine Art Degree from the University of Wisconsin, she gained much of her insight into the forms of the animals she loves by spending much of her time in anthropology labs studying articulated skeletons of dogs and horses.  She also received grants to participate in summer studies at the Veterinary College of Medicine at Cornell University.  Following her education, she attained public recognition and awards for her work.    She attributes the success of her portrait work and knowledge to her work in Ateliers devoted to 19th century work in the U.S. and Canada.

As unique to her devotion to 19th century art is the fact that Constance has been intimately involved with dog training and competing in AKC events since her youth.  Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, her first memory is of her mother presenting her with a book on the work of Rosa Bonheur, and at the age of eleven enrolling for the artistic instruction in children’s art classes at the Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts and the Cranbook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.  At the age of twelve she began drawing and painting many of the breeds she met at the AKC breed rings and obedience events that she entered with her first Cocker Spaniel.  She later worked with her uncle’s Champion Field Trial German Short-Haired Pointers, and bred, trained and titled Dobermans, Rottweilers and German Shepherd Police Dogs. This experience of training and growing up in the fields with working dogs, and her deep attachment to these wonderful creatures, were formative influences on her life’s chosen vocation as an animal painter.

Ms. Payne is also an accomplished equestrian.  Through direct observation and countless hours in stables and barnyards, she has created many portraits for clients of their beloved mounts, including Thoroughbreds and Warmbloods.  Through visiting many logging farms and state fairs to sketch and model in clay, she has developed a particular respect and fondness for the draft breeds.

Since 1985 Constance Payne has enjoyed 8 national solo exhibitions which were sold out, and has been included in more than 20 group shows throughout the United States.  Her commission work and animal paintings hang in hundreds of public and private collections all over the world, including four public museums.  An expert on the methods and life of Rosa Bonheur, she has been invited to lecture worldwide, and has been featured in numerous publications.     

After 28 years as an associate professor of Fine Art in Painting and Drawing at a university in NY, Constance has retired from academic life and currently works out of her Wisconsin studios. She continues working on limited private commissions as well as paintings and sculpture for a future exhibition at Meibohm Fine Art, 2018.