Daphne Irving was born in New Jersey to Canadian parents, the family moved to Boston, where Daphne studied drawing at the Boston Museum School. She completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts at Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick, graduating in 1954. She was mentored by teacher Alex Colville.
With her husband, whom she met while studying at Mount Allison, they opened a private art school, The Moncton School of Fine Arts. The School was open for about three years.
Irving is best known for her realistic landscape watercolour paintings. She also explored the subconscious expression movement employing washes of colour in her works, to identify and bring out forms. Her work gradually shifted back to a more realistic approach, however she still utilizes expressionistic techniques giving her paintings an edge.
Since the 1980's, Irving's work has been strongly influence by stories from the Christian Bible and figurative in nature.
Irving has exhibited in numerous solo and group shows.
In 1978 she was admitted to the Royal Canadian Academy.