Pablita Velarde was born Tse Tsan at the Santa Clara Pueblo in New Mexico, and painted throughout her childhood. At age fifteen, Pablita created a large mural for the Century of Progress World's Fair in Chicago in 1933. With her mentor, Tonita Pena, Pablita became a professional painter, though in her culture becoming a professional painter was considered a masculine pursuit. She taught drawing in a day school and built her studio in Santa Clara Pueblo. In recent years, Pablita began grinding her own paints from earth colors, striving for more natural authenticity in her paintings.
Pablita's work depicts Indian ceremony and daily life, and displays meticulous attention to detail, that makes her work valuable historical records. Some of her murals can be viewed at Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico. In 1960, she wrote and illustrated "Old Father, Story Teller," a book of tribal legends. In 1977, she earned the New Mexico Governor's Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Arts. In 1998, she had participated in the Indian Market in Santa Fe, New Mexico for 56 continuous years.