Orpha Klinker's natural talent for art even appeared in her kindergarten days. She graduated from Polytechnic High School, L.A. and later studied at U.C.L.A. Art School and at the Cannon Art School. Artists Paul Lauritz and Anna A. Hills of Laguna Beach, were her first art teachers. She continued her study of art at the Julian and Colarosi Academies in Europe.
Some of her earliest work was in designing. Many pages of her fine pen work drawings appeared in Los Angeles newspapers, illustrating the fashions of the day, not only in clothes but in furniture and other things. Then for a time she did her work in New York City and later with the LADIES HOME JOURNAL in Philadelphia.
One of her first projects with which Orpha impressed the public was a notable series of her large color portraits of California pioneers in the L.A.TIMES under the heading of "Speaking Of Pioneers." This led to another series on landmarks and famous tales of early California including oil paintings of historic adobes, buildings and trees of California.
From the Mexican border to Death Valley she roamed, meeting and painting portraits of such characters as Death Valley Scotty, Shoshone Johnny, the ancient Indian who supposedly saw the first white man come to Death Valley, Emanuel A. Speegle, "The Last of the 49'ers" (over 90 years of age) and others.
Orpha was active in keeping alive the memory of one historical event in particular, the signing of the Treaty of Cahuenga ending the Mexican War with California in 1847. At the site of the signing in North Hollywood, there is now a large memorial building, The Campo de Cahuenga, containing Orpha's paintings and oil portraits of the signers, Col. John C. Fremont and Jose Antonio Carrillo. She was vice president of the Campo de Cahuenga Association and was one of the best qualified and most genuinely interested historical painters in California.
She is also noted for her oil paintings and portraits. She painted John H. Francis, founder and first principal of Polytechnic High School, L. A., Miss Mary Foy, first teacher and librarian of Los Angeles High School, and Dr. Joseph Widney, first president of U.S.C. and founder of its Medical School.
She painted many famous and socially prominent people including Mrs. Alfonso E. Bell, founder with her husband of Bel Air, California, Madame Caroline Severance, founder of the first two Women's Clubs in the United States (the Boston Woman's Club and the Friday Morning Club in Los Angeles), the famous humorist Will Rogers, the early movie star, Miss Claire Windsor, comedian Edgar Bergen and his daughter Candice, and many others.
Orpha was commissioned to paint a very large portrait of one of the earlier mayors of Los Angeles while he was in office, Mayor Frank E. Shawl. This portrait still hangs in the Los Angeles City Hall.
She also did outstanding work as an illustrator, illustrating such books as "Artists of the Desert" and the “Enchanted Pueblo" by Ed Ainsworth of the L. A. TIMES, and many other books.
In addition to all this, she designed some 150 china plates depicting historical events and landmarks of principal cities of the United States, Alaska and Hawaii. They are now collectors' items as her beautiful oil paintings and etchings are fast becoming.
Early in 1964 she had an exhibit at the Waldorf Astoria in New York and she was honored in 1963 by the Los Angeles City Council with an especially designed scroll and also again after her untimely death in 1964, at which time she was vice president of the California Art Club, an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Fine Arts and was on the board of The Artists of the Southwest. She had also been president of The Women Painters of the West for three terms.
In addition to her achievements in the United States, Orpha Klinker has been honored in France, Belgium, Mexico and India. Her paintings are in the collections of the late Winston Churchill, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and her scenic and flower oil paintings grace the walls of lovely homes and art galleries all over the Western world.