Chen Yanning was born in Guangzhou (Canton), Guangdong Province, in 1945. He graduated in 1965 from the Oil Painting Department of the Guangzhou Art Academy. Over the years, Chen has worked for the Guangdong Provincial Art office. In 1986, he went to the U.S.A. for further study, graduating from the Art Department of Oklahoma Municipal College in 1988.
Chen is specialized in oil painting and has participated in exhibitions in China and in Paris, France (1982). In the 1980s, he 'began creating art with themes of daily life, reflecting his thoughts and emotions'. Chen was commissioned to paint renowned figures (such as Queeen Elizabeth, whom he painted in 1999).