Schofield was born in Philadelphia in 1867. He studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts from 1889 to 1892, with John Sloan, William Glackens, Charles Grafly, Edward Redfield and Robert Henri. Following his departure from the Academy, Schofield traveled to France, Belgium, Holland and England, to continue his studies. Upon his return from Europe, he settled in New Hope, and painted the Bucks County and Pennsylvania countryside for two years. In Philadelphia in 1897 Schofield met a young English woman whom he later married and lived with in Germantown. In 1901 they moved to England as a result of his wife’s homesickness, settling after a few moves in Saint Ives, Cornwall.
By 1921, Elmer Schofield was making regular trips from England to the United States, painting there from October to April. He would not only visit his native Pennsylvania but also New England, Arizona, New Mexico and California. His palette, shortly after he moved to England, shifted away from the subdued tonal colors he had been using to a more bolder and brighter technique, all the while continuing to paint directly from nature.
Schofield is represented in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Buffalo Museum of Art, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the Corcoran Art Gallery in Washington D.C., the Cincinnati Art Museum, the National Academy of Design, the Smithsonian National Museum of American Art, and many private collections. He was also elected a member of the National Academy of Design in 1907.
W. Elmer Schofield died in Cornwall, England in 1944.