Richard Lofton, of McClellanville, South Carolina, became interested in art when he received a box of oil paints at the age of twelve. He followed family tradition by attending The Citadel, but after graduation in 1928, won a scholarship to the National Academy of Design in New York City. Afterwards, Lofton spent a five year period of self-teaching and experimentation in the isolation of McClellanville, from which he emerged to take the position of director of the municipal art school in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where he married Nancy Schallert.
After service in World War II, which took him to California, Lofton settled with his family in Carmel and became an active participant in the local art community. He had frequent exhibitions in California and won both critical and popular success as a painter of portraits and landscapes, as a draftsman and watercolorist.