Chris was born into a legacy of the old west. His father’s family homesteaded ranches in south central New Mexico. He was raised on tales of Billy the Kid and Black Jack Ketchum. Chris had ties to Texas as well through both his father and mother. He spent some of his childhood in Lake Dallas where his father, Ken Payne worked as an airline pilot. Ken eventually moved his young family back to his roots in Lincoln County, New Mexico and devoted his time to painting and sculpting scenes of cowboy life. Chris learned the many skills of ranch life and at the same time was exposed to the vibrant art scene in Santa Fe, traveling there with his father numerous times.
Chris began working for Ken in the small foundry he had added to the back of their home in Nogal, NM in 1979. Chris learned the inner workings of a bronze casting foundry and put his skills to work also selling his fathers sculptures in Eastern New Mexico and West Texas. In 1980 Ken hired Laurie Stone the daughter of an old family friend and she became the mold maker and wax worker in the small foundry. Chris and Laurie became good friends and eventually were married in 1982.
Chris and Laurie moved to Odessa, Tx for a time where Chris worked for an art gallery in Midland. They returned to Lincoln County, New Mexico where they started a foundry and a family of their own. The family relocated to Santa Fe in 1995 where Chris began working at Mountain Trails Gallery. Chris became a gallery owner soon thereafter. Chris was in his element as a gallery owner. He was able to combine his love of people with his love of art. He began his own collection of favorite artists and began many enduring friendships.
During a downturn in the art market Chris picked up his sculpting tools and began new chapter. Chris drew from his exposure to wildlife, ranch life, and tales of the old west to bring his experiences and memories to life in clay. His work is currently shown at Maya Gallery in Santa Fe.