Autodidact Janny Tollenaar was born 1923 in Loenen aan de Vecht. She later moved to Haarlem, where she lived and worked for the rest of her life. The painter is often mentioned in the same breath with her life partner, the artist Roelof Klein. Both worked together intensively. Janny Tollenaar was a member of 'Kunst zij ons doel' in Haarlem.