Jenkins was an American Abstract Expressionist painter. He was born in Kansas City, Missouri, where he met Frank Lloyd Wright and Thomas Hart Benton. In 1948, he moved to New York City where, on the G.I. Bill, he studied at the Art Students League of New York with Yasuo Kuniyoshi for four years and with Morris Kantor. During that time, he met Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner, and Barnett Newman. In 1953, he traveled to Europe, working for three months in Taormina, Sicily, before settling in Paris.