Griffith was born in Lawrence, Kansas on August 19, 1866. He studied art at the
Washington University in St. Louis and in 1890 furthered his art studies in
Paris at Academie Julian under Constant and Lefebvre. Returning to his native
state, he taught art for over 20 years at Kansas University. In 1918, while on a
sabbatical leave, he visited his old friend and former classmate, Benjamin
Chambers Brown in Laguna Beach. Two years later Griffith moved to Laguna Beach
where he became an influential member of the art colony and served as president
of the local art association.
Before his move to California, he painted many portraits, but soon turned his attention to the surrounding landscape. Working in oil and pastel, Griffith also painted many beach scenes and marines. He died in Laguna Beach on May 25, 1940.