Born in Sedalia, Missouri, Patten was an only child whose parents divorced when she was very young. She grew up close to her grandfather, Marion Hall, who sparked her early love of horses. In 1965 she graduated with a B.A. in German from the University of Kansas. Later, when one of her favorite horses was accidentally electrocuted, she suffered a bout with mental illness. In a television interview nearly twenty years later, Patten recalled with certainty that it was this ?sick and pitiful? period in her life which led to her discovering she really wanted to be an artist. She acted on this realization and received her B.F.A. from the Kansas City Art Institute in 1979. The unique and rather eccentric style of art that Patten brought to her work had no precedent in the Kansas City area. Her tendency to overload canvases with layer upon layer of oil paint with a palette knife gave her works a dramatic and emotional quality. Patten preferred working with canvases of up to nine feet or more in size. Patten?s independent vision resulted in wide recognition in her short sixteen years as an artist. In 1988 she won the John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship with just a few slides and a one-page resume. Her work was featured in Art in America in June of 1995. Patten was 52 when she died in December 1995, a few short months after receiving the news she had liver cancer.