Danni Dawson was born in 1944 in Austin, Texas. She earned a BA from George Washington University in Washington DC in 1966 and a MFA from George Washington University in 1972.
Dawson apprenticed for a year with Nelson Shanks, an eminent portrait painter in New Hope, Pennsylvania. Her first important show of paintings was at the Mickelson Gallery in Washington, DC. In 1971 she began teaching at the Art League of Northern Virginia and has continued teaching there until the present time.