Born in Sausalito, California, Euphemia Charlton was born with a cleft palate that was a permanent deformity.
E. Charlton Fortune began her art career when she was sent to study in Scotland when her father died and her brother moved to live in Los Angeles. She was there for 6 years during which time she was exposed to art at the National Gallery in Edinburgh. Her parents had never been able to understand her attraction to art and they discouraged her but this did not stop her.
She returned to America to live with her mother and brother and enrolled at Hopkins Institute to study art under Arthur Mathews. She met many people during her time there who themselves would go on to become famous artists.
The California earthquake of 1906 destroyed their home, and all the paintings E. Charlton Fortune had done until that time perished. Her family then moved to New York where she joined the Arts Students League. She studied under Frank Vincent Dumond and Louis Mora who were both famous artists.
Her art combined the use of light, movement, and continuous lines to achieve her own impressionist style. Louis Mora, who had made sure that she was a good illustrator, got her a job at Sunset Magazine in San Francisco. She was able to have her own exhibitions between 1916 and 1920 in Monterey but she never did become a teacher she had trouble explaining her style to students in a concise manner.
E. Charlton Fortune works were later criticized for being too beautiful and moving too far away from reality. This did not stop her she went on to do religious paintings, some of which were exhibited at the St. Angelas Catholic Church in Pacific Grove.