Kelly Lonergan was born in Charlottesville, VA in 1954, and grew up in the nearby town of Orange. He attended Randolph-Macon College where he earned a BA in English in 1976, then continued his studies at the University of Virginia, earning an MA in English in 1978.
In the early 1980s, he became interested in art history and the visual arts; he began to paint seriously in the mid-1980s, while also working in the studio of jewelry designer Linda van der Linde in Charlottesville, hand painting the sculpted porcelain pieces used in her necklace and earring designs.
From 1989 through 1991, Lonergan attended Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA, where he earned an MFA in Painting and Printmaking. In the early 1990s, he worked out of a studio in the McGuffey Art Center in Charlottesville, VA and exhibited his work throughout the state of Virginia.
He began to teach art history and design classes at Germanna Community College and Piedmont Virginia Community College in 1994. The next year, Lonergan became an instructor at Woodberry Forest School, an all-boys boarding school near Orange, VA. He taught art history and studio art at the school and served as the chair of the art department until his retirement in June of 2019. He continues to schedule and install exhibitions in the Baker Gallery of the Walker Fine Arts Center at the school. He currently lives with his wife Liz in Charlottesville, VA.