Paul Jenkins was born in Kansas City, Missouri in 1923. He worked in a ceramics factory as a teenager, learning about color variations and the creation of form. From 1937 to 1942, he attended the Kansas City Art Institute. Jenkins’ interest and talent in theater earned him a fellowship to the Cleveland Playhouse. He also attended the Drama School at the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh. Deciding to be an artist, Jenkins went to New York City and studied at the Art Students League, where his influential instructors included Yasuo Kuniyoshi and Morris Kantor.
His lithographs and some of his earlier paintings reflect his interest in mysticism, including the writings of Carl Jung and Zen Buddhism. Jenkins works have been widely exhibited and he now spends his time, alternately, between New York and Paris.