Doug Kirton was born in London, Ontario, in 1955. He studied at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, he was attracted by their reputation and admiration of conceptual arts.He graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1978.
Following his studies he spent a year as an apprentice Exhibitions Officer at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax. He then moved to Toronto where he worked in the Technical Services at the Art Gallery of Ontario.
From 1987-1992 Kirton was a sessional lecturer at the University of Guelph and the University of Ottawa. He then decided to further his studies and began the Master of Fine Arts program at the University of Guelph, he received his Master of Fine Arts degree in 1994.
Since 2001 Kirton has taught painting, drawing and digital imaging at the University of Waterloo where he still teaches today.
Kirton will often take pictures of his subject matter and use the photos as reference for creating his paintings.
Kirtons work is part of the permanent collections of the Vancouver Art Gallery, the Art Gallery of Ontario, the National Gallery of Canada and the Shanghai Art Museum in China.
He was elected to the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in 2002.