Eleanora Kissel was born in Morristown, New Jersey, and she studied painting in her hometown as well as in Provincetown, Massachussets. At the age of 19, Kissel entered the Art Students League and continued her art education abroad for seven months, in Italy, France, and Spain.
In 1926, Kissel found her way to Taos. She became a painter of southwestern landscapes and portraits, and she was an etcher as well. She built a studio in Taos in 1929, and exhibited her New Mexico paintings at the National Association of Women Painters and Sculptors and the National Art Club in New York City.