E. Janya Barlow was born and raised in Indiana. She was brought up in a family where music and art were common place. Her brother Hugh Barlow, a jazz musician and painter, helped her realize that painting was her path in life too. Barlow studied painting at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana where she received her BFA. She moved to New York City soon after and began training extensively under the renowned painter Bruce Dorfman at the Art Students League of New York. Dorfman was and still is a great influence to Barlow. Barlow has since been exhibiting in both galleries and museums in the United States and abroad.