Patrick Cowley-Brown was born in Singapore in 1918, and moved with his family to Vancouver, British Columbia in 1926. By 1935 they had settled in Victoria and he attended the H. Faulkner-Smith School of Fine and Applied Art in Vancouver. During the Second World War, he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF). He was sent overseas in February 1942, serving as a wireless air gunner. In 1944 the RCAF held an art competition, which Cowley-Brown entered and won. He was made an Official War Artist the same year.
As an Official War Artist, Cowley-Brown spent the rest of the war in Canada. His job was to record everyday life on the Canada-US Alaska Highway, newly built in 1942 by the USA for a supply route to military forces in Alaska, as well as the RCAF bases on the west coast of Canada. He would make field sketches of the activities he saw, and then send them to the Official Air Historian. Certain sketches were then selected to be made into larger paintings.
After the war ended, Cowley-Brown spent two years on a fishing boat. He painted scenes of the Canadian West Coast, as well as Gabriola Island, British Columbia. He also spent some time in Mexico studying art. In 1951, he began his career as a graphic designer for the Canadian Government and retired after twenty-seven years to work full time as an artist.