Elliot Budd Hopkins was born in 1931 and raised in Wheeling, West Virginia.[4
] He lived with his parents, Elliot T. Hopkins and Eleanor A. Hopkins, brother,
Stewart, and sister, Eleanor. At age two, Hopkins contracted polio. During
the long recovery process, Hopkins developed an interest in drawing  and
watercolors, which eventually lead him to Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio, whe
re he graduated with a bachelor's degree in art history in 1953. It was here,
Hopkins was exposed to art with "a capital A," and attended a lecture by Rob
ert Motherwell that first introduced him to the "automatic, gestural approach th
at Motherwell espoused."
From Oberlin, Hopkins moved to New York City, where he met Franz Kline, Mark Rot
hko, Robert Motherwell, Willem de Kooning and other abstract expressionists.[
3] For a time, Hopkins studied art history at Columbia University and worked
a low-level job selling tickets at the Museum of Modern Art. His experimen
tation with collage techniques and style as an abstract expressionist, won hi
m national acclaim. Hopkins' first solo show was held in New York City in 195
6, the same year he met and married his first wife of thirteen years, Joan Rich.
In 1976, Hopkins was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for painting[citation neede
d]. He also received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts[citation n
eeded]. His articles on art appeared in magazines and journals, and he lectured
at many art schools, including Truro Center for the Arts at Castle Hill.[citatio
n needed] In 1993 he was elected into the National Academy of Design as an Assoc
iate member and became a full Academician in 1994.
After the publication of Missing Time in 1981, his UFO research began to take
precedence over his art. As a self-described humanist, Hopkins saw hi
s work with alleged alien abduction victims as a way to bring attention to an ot
herwise marginalized part of society. His follow up book Intruders: The Incr
edible Visitations at Copley Woods, published in 1987, helped establish Hopk
ins as a prominent leader in the UFO movement.