Kathleen Knowling was born in St. John's in 1927. She graduated from Barnard College, Columbia University, in New York City, in 1950 with a B.A. in History. Afterwards, she went on to Paris, France where she studied in the museum for two years. Knowling went on with her artistic studies, spending a term at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design ( NSCAD ), as well as studying at the Newfoundland Academy of Art, Mount Allison University and Memorial University's Extension Service. Although she started by working in watercolours, it was when she began to work with oilsticks and coloured pencils that she truly found her medium.
In addition to her activities as a visual artist, she has taught art history, written art reviews, curated exhibitions and published poetry. Kathleen Knowling continues to live and work in St. John's.