private Bitmap _picture = new Bitmap(@"<C:\Users\Jack\Documents\Visual Studio 2010\Projects\Animotion1.0\DefaultCharPic.jpg>");

as a datamember to a class?
Can I just not assign Bitmaps as members?

private Bitmap _picture = new Bitmap(@"<C:\Users\Jack\Documents\Visual Studio 2010\Projects\Animotion1.0\DefaultCharPic.jpg>");

as a datamember to a class?
Can I just not assign Bitmaps as members?

Try ...

private Bitmap _picture = new Bitmap(@"C:\Users\Jack\Documents\Visual Studio 2010\Projects\Animotion1.0\DefaultCharPic.jpg", true);

Note the added true argument, and that I dropped the "<" and ">".