Born in Fenyang, Shanxi. In 1920, he went to Japan and studied in Tokyo Kawabata Western Painting School. In 1922, he entered the western painting division of Tokyo Art School (now Tokyo National University of Fine Arts) and studied under the famous Japanese oil painter Fujishima Takeji. After graduation, he stayed in the institute to further his study for another two years and returned to China in 1928. Appointed by Mr. Cai Yuanpei, he became the instructor of modeling art academy of Peking University. Later the academy is changed to the Department of Western Painting and Wei Tianlin was promoted to the director of the division. At the same time, he was appointed by Mr. Shen Yinmo and taught in Comte school at Beiheyan Str, the Eastern Flowery Gate. Later the Sino-French Comte Arts University was established outside Fuchengmen and he was appointed as director of the Arts Division. In 1940s, he once taught in the Peking Vocational art School (Mr. Yang Zhongzi was the principal at that time), arts academy of North China and the Peking Private Women's University of Western Painting. After 1949, he was the professor of Beijing Normal University, vice president of Beijing Art Normal University, vice president of the Beijing Academy of Fine Arts, professor of Beijing Central Academy of Fine Arts and member of Chinese Artists Association successively. "Wei Tianlin Oil Painting Exhibition" was held in Chinese Art Gallery in 1980 and "Wei Tianlin 100th Anniversary Exhibition" was held in the Beijing International Art Museum in 1998.