Kathryn Woodman was born in Plainfield, New Hampshire in 1876. Woodman attended Kimball Union Academy in Plainfield and later studied art at the Boston Normal Art School in Boston, Massachusetts. Kathryn Woodman married attorney Edward Everett Leighton in 1900. In 1910 the couple moved to Los Angeles where Kathryn Woodman Leighton had a studio at the couple's home on West 46th Street. In the early 1920s Leighton traveled to the Canadian Rockies and Glacier National Park to paint landscapes. In 1926, she returned to Glacier National Park, this time as the guest of the Great Northern Railway, commissioned to paint scenes of life among the Blackfeet. The railroad used Leighton's paintings to promote Western tourism, and Leighton's work turned from landscapes to Native American portraits. She often used Native American actors as models in her Los Angeles studio. Her paintings were not innovative in form, but they were hailed as "distinctive" and "historical" for their content; "Kathryn Leighton has painted the Indian aristocracy as Van Dyke painted the British aristocracy," declared a Los Angeles Times critic. However, another Los Angeles Times critic commented that the portraits "command my respect and admiration--and yet I do not personally like them." Leighton served a term as president of the California Art Club, and was a member of the Los Angeles Art Association and the Laguna Art Association. In 1930, works by Leighton were exhibited at Knoedler Galleries in Paris. She had a solo exhibition of her works at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1940. Leighton died in 1952. Leighton's paintings continue to be collected and exhibited, often in shows about women artists in the American West. In 2007 she was included in a show at the University of Wyoming Art Museum. The Smithsonian American Art Museum has one painting by Leighton in its collection, a portrait of Iron Eyes Cody.