Eleanor Arnold Clark was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
She began her career as a painter of the American Scene, focusing upon rural landscapes and portraits of friends and family. However, Clark did not stick tenaciously to the realist idiom after 1940. After studying for a year (1935-36) at the Art Students’ League in New York under the celebrated abstractionist Hans Hofmann, Clark began to move quite sharply towards geometric abstraction and eventually adopted an Abstract Expressionist idiom. Unlike Hofmann, Clark never became purely non-representational in her painting, as she continued to use the human figure (albeit highly stylized) to express a range of human emotions and interpersonal motivations.