Avis Fleming grew up in the bayou country of Louisiana and loved being outdoors and drawing landscapes, horses, and dogs. As a teenager, she began drawing and painting under the influence of English printmaker and painter Anthony Gross who visited her family.
Avis studied philosophy and art history at Bryn Mawr College, graduating cum laude. After a summer of basics at Rhode Island School of Design, she studied printmaking at Pratt Institute from 1959 to 1961.
Moving to Washington, D.C., with her husband and two children, Avis began painting under the influence of the Washington Color School and exhibited paintings at the Studio Gallery until 1985.
After a fellowship at V.C.C.A., she taught at the Art League School in the 1980s until the present day, particularly leading classes on gesture drawing of the figure and sketchbook drawing. Avis led Art League drawing and painting trips to Louisiana, Ireland and the Czech Republic.